Extract from a book by Yekaterina Yoffel “Music is my soul …”, Krasnoyarsk, 2009, pages 64-67.
Original idea by A.P. Bykov, Member of Krasnoyarsk Region Legislative Assembly.
Published by A.P. Bykov.
An interview with Dm. Khvorostovsky, Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, 03.12.2009:
- What was a major forming factor of you as a singer?
- My talent initiated and got a primary impulse in the family. I was influenced by my parents. They insisted on me studying music and thanks to that I became a musician and stepped on a road along which I’m still walking. The next pivotal moment of my life was the conservatory where I studied in the class of Ekaterina Konstantinovna Yoffel.
Ms. Yoffel has been always saying that it is impossible to teach – it’s only possible to learn. And the major thing I learned from her was to sing with my soul and heart. I have never been trained by anybody since I graduated from the class of Ms. Yoffel. During these five years of studying I have received such an intense and compressed piece of energy information which I have been absorbing, I absorbed and I will continue to absorb for all the remaining time of my life and career. I believe I never afforded myself a slight deviation from what she had taught me. It is not so important how to learn to sing high or low notes – there are many different points of view on that. Another thing matters. When a phrase is supported by an emotion the phrase obtains meaning. Than everything in respect of singing techniques clicks into its place. We were trying to reach such level during our classes with great difficulty; it was torturing. But she made everything very easy, like in a kindergarten, in a form of a game. She used to give some definite tasks, symbols helping you to feel what needs to be done. Sometimes with her help and support I managed to understand some too serious ideas which I was unable to comprehend myself at that time because of my young age. Later when some time had passed after completion of the competition named after M.I. Glinka, I was singing together with I. Arkhipova at the concert of the prize-winners, she came to me and asked: “I wonder how you can understand that? It is clear that I understand that but how come you know that?” I think, first of all, it was a compliment to my teacher. Ms. Yoffel helped me to reveal my talent. Basically talent is talent and apparently all my achievements on stage belonged to me. But she was the one who helped me to develop my talent, helped me to learn singing. Whatever I do – sing classical Italian opera, bel canto opera (I almost don’t sing Wagner), modern music, chamber music, pop music… - everything is easy. I feel good; I feel comfortable because Ms. Yoffel taught me to master major principles. As you know Chernyshevsky wrote: “Do not give a kiss if you are not in love!”. The same is true for singing – I have never pronounced a sound with formal approach! Never! May be sometimes during rehearsals… In particular it happened when I was working with music of Sviridov, I spent endless countless rehearsals mastering lyrics and singing “Do not give a kiss if you are not in love”. It was impossible to sing – im-pos-sib-le! Neither vocally, nor physically – this was absolutely beyond my depth. But when I came upon the stage and diving into this karma – I felt good, I felt free. It was emotionally hard, because I took it hard; I was walking along the human’s path, through hell; but in terms of singing I felt fine, I had almost no difficulty.
Ms. Yoffel is a wonderful person! She has an amazing sense of humor; when she wants to she may hold in hand all the musical community. Her virtue, and emotional level are so high that all the community must be orientated at them. Thanks to such people our culture is still at high level against general tendency of “fall”. So we must swear by her!
My teacher Yekaterina Yoffel is great at the art of master class in the best sense. She has a combination of marvelous pedagogical gift and ability to sign with dramatic glare and eccentricity plus, of course, something hypnotic!
Page 53. Ye.К. Yoffel:
- When Dima Khvorostovsky was my student he always thoroughly prepared for the lessons. In his student days I was impressed by his obsession with singing. Today I teach him one thing (he graduated from a pedagogical training school, not a musical one, the lessons were once a week and it was at the age when he was still undergoing changes). At the next lesson it is already trained and at the following lesson I can go further. Dima felt he was developing more and more, mastering the material and everything, and for a reason he had been singing with Spiller orchestra since he was at the third grade, he was invited to an opera house (later on it appeared that he is not needed there).