Anton Belov

Anton Belov

Boston Singers' Resource News Bulletin, May 24 , 2006

Recently heard with the Cantata Singers and with Opera Boston, Anton Belov has a full singing schedule on the national stage as well as teaching commitments at the
University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Author of ‘Anthology of Russian Arias for Baritone’ and ‘Libretti of Russian Operas, Volume I’ published by Leyerle Publications, his fourth book ‘Anthology of Russian Arias for Soprano’ is due out later this year.

Since 2000, Russian-born American baritone Anton Belov has been developing a note-worthy career in New England and throughout the United States. In addition to his work in opera and as a recitalist, he is a lecturer, voice teacher and instructor of diction and opera history at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and he has authored several books of transcriptions of Russian operas and arias. This isn’t a career he, or anyone else, would have predicted even a decade ago.

The South Dartmouth, MA, resident is the First Place winner of several renowned competitions including the Licia Albanese - Puccini Foundation International Competition in 2001, and the New Jersey State Opera International Competition and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Eastern Region), both in 2002. Also in 2002, he received First Place honors at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. The YCA added Anton Belov to their roster of artists and presented him at premiers in Boston (at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), New York (at the 92nd Street YMCA), and Washington (at the Kennedy Center).

His operatic credits include Marcello in ‘La Boheme’, Escamillo in ‘Carmen’, Dandini in ‘La Cenerentola’, and the title roles in ‘Don Giovanni’, which he performed with Opera North in 2003, and ‘Eugene Onegin’. In 2005 he sang the role of John Sorel in Opera Boston’s production of ‘The Consul’ and reprised the role this year with the Chamber Opera of Chicago. His non-operatic performances include Bach’s Cantata #82, ‘Ich habe genug’, with Orchestra New England, Haydn’s ‘Teresa Mass’, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’. This past January, he was heard with the Cantata Singers, under the direction of David Hoose, in Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’.

The road to success for Anton Belov, notwithstanding a lot of hard work, has the elements of a Dickens novel; marked by sadness, upheaval, chance encounters, and the generosity of strangers. He was born and raised in Moscow in the last quarter of the 20th century, the only child of older parents. At the age of 16 he came to the United States with his ailing father, expecting to stay for two or three weeks and speaking virtually no English.

His mother, an English teacher and puppeteer, was, at that time, in Portland, Maine, on a cultural exchange and had located a doctor who was willing to treat her husband. During the nine month wait for visas to allow Anton and his father to leave the Soviet Union, Anton, now the sole care giver, saw his father’s health decline rapidly. Finally, at the height of the overthrow of the old Soviet regime, on August 19, 1991, their visas were issued. They left three days later.

With the help of their American hosts, the Belovs began a new life in New England. Anton got married and found work as a custom furniture maker with Charles Shackleton Furniture in Vermont. Almost by accident, he says, Anton and his wife found and became part of a Orthodox Church in Claremont, NH. There he met Simeon Tregubov, a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and a former professor of voice at the Moscow State School of Theater – and the father of the minister at the church. Tregubov, who had performed the role of Eugene Onegin nearly 100 times, offered the young Anton free voice lessons three times per week.

Yet, even after four years of study with Tregubov, Belov didn’t initially intend on a career in music and he briefly attended Keene State College with other plans. Soon, however, he became serious about singing and transferred to the New England Conservatory where he was a student of John Moriarty and the late Richard Hughes. He was graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance. He went on to earn his MM in Vocal performance in 2002 from The Juilliard School and an Artists Diploma from The Juilliard Opera Center in 2004, studying with David Clatworthy.

An important career decision for Belov was his entry in the Young Concert Artists Audition. The YCA annually selects several young artists from a pool of some 300 musicians to receive an opportunity to give recitals and lectures, while providing management services and publicity for up to four years. Beginning in 2002, Belov has given nearly forty recitals under the auspices of the YCA and, with their help, is now being professionally managed by Thea Dispeker Inc., Artists Management. Among the many performers since 1961 who have had their careers jump-started by the YCA are Dawn Upshaw, Murray Perahia, Emanuel Ax and Pinchas Zukerman.

Belov views his time with the Young Concert Artists as beneficial in several ways. It has allowed him the time to learn how to pace himself, to develop the stamina it takes to regularly do a ninety minute recital. And he was able to develop quickly a repertoire that he enjoyed performing and that was well-suited for him. Now that he is with Dispeker, which is known for its management of recitalists as well as opera singers, he looks forward to more opportunities to perform opera.

More than just an intelligent student of singing, Anton Belov has combined his love of music with his knowledge of Russian. He has written and had published, to date, three books which amply demonstrate his great fascination with the art of transcription. His interest in phonetics began during his sophomore year at NEC and he has studied with some of the best diction instructors in the country including Moriarty at NEC, and Richard Cross, Thomas Grubb, Kathryn LaBouff, and Corradina Caporello at Juilliard. He was encouraged to write his first book, ‘Libretti of Russian Operas, Volume I’ (Leyerle Publications, 2004), by no less an expert than Nico Castel, another of his teachers at Juilliard, a staff diction coach with the Metropolitan Opera Company for 26 years, and the author of the definitive reference for diction, pronunciation and translation for all of the major operas.

The ‘Libretti’, which contains transcriptions of Glinka’s ‘Russlan and Ludmila’, Mussorgsky’s ‘Boris Godunov’, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ and ‘The Queen of Spades’, Rachmaninoff’s ‘Aleko’, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘The Golden Cockerel’, uses standard International Phonetic Alphabet transcription symbols plus a few new symbols developed by Belov. Unlike other transcriptions of Russian texts which didn’t adhere to the IPA standard, this text, Belov explains, will be accessible to any singer who is familiar with IPA. In the forward to the book, Castel has written: ‘We all can be glad to see the fruits of his labor in this book. ... We look forward to a second book in the near future.’

In 2005, Leyerle Publications released Belov’s ‘Anthology of Russian Arias for Baritone’. Also in 2005, his Piano-Vocal Score of ‘Eugene Onegin’ was published by Classical Vocal Reprints. Both volumes use the standard IPA transcription symbols. A fourth book, ‘Anthology of Russian Arias for Soprano’, is due out later this year.
As if his singing and publishing careers weren’t enough, Belov also holds adjunct teaching position at UMass Dartmouth where, in addition to 16 voice students, he teaches courses in singer’s diction and opera history and runs an opera workshop. He is developing a course on singer’s repertoire which he hopes to offer next year. He’s realistic enough to call this schedule ‘very crazy’.

First in the list of opera roles that Belov enjoys singing are Don Giovanni (“I love doing that part.”) and the Count from ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’. “Being young,” he says, “those are the roles that are suited for me right now; according to the stories they are about 24-25. Mozart is suited for young singers; it is a good place for me at 31.” But his thoughts are also on future roles. “I hope to be singing Verdi as I get older. By my mid-thirties I hope to sing roles like Germond or Ford. I’d also love to do Russian opera although it’s rare in America to do that. There are really only three Russian operas done in this country; Eugene Onegin (which he performed and received strong reviews for while he was a student at Juilliard), Boris Godunov, and The Queen of Spades.”

Asked about his goals and dreams at this time, Belov doesn’t reveal many specifics. “My goal is to do what I love the most; to be on stage.” Does he think about returning to Russia as a performer? “I think I will be able to go back to Russia as a performer, and be successful, only after I’ve made a name for myself in this country. It’s sort of the reverse of what is done here; you go to Europe and study and make a name for yourself, and then you can come back to America and find the work.”

Clearly Anton Belov is finding the work. This semester, for instance, he has had two opera engagements, three oratorio engagements, and given three recitals. Later this year, in October, he will be appearing in Boston Baroque’s production of ‘Don Giovanni’. And Opera Providence is considering him for their next season.

About Anton Belov, the Philadelphia Inquirer has said ‘his great gift is charisma. Almost no one can be impervious to the charm.’ The Boston Globe speaks of Belov keeping ‘the goosebump factor high’. And the New York Times writes of the ‘deluxe casting of Anton Belov.’ Praise like that is rewarded to performers who have made a connection with their audiences. You would expect that connection from someone who speaks of his profession like this: “Singing, for me, I feel like I’m really putting my soul into it. I think that’s what intrigues people and that’s why I get hired to do things. For me, singing is never just about vocal production; it’s about something you take out from your soul and show it to people. That’s what singing is about. It’s not about the perfect high notes.”

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

Mozart: Don Giovanni
Boston Baroque
Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:30 PM
Sat Oct 14, 2006 7:30 PM
Nathan Berg (Don Giovanni)
Mark Schnaible (Leporello)
Nicolle Foland (Donna Anna)
Amy Burton (Donna Elvira)
Heidi Stober (Zerlina)
Anton Belov* (Mazetto)
Gustav Andreassen (Il Commendatore)
Semi-staged. Sung in Italian. English titles
Martin Pearlman, conductor
Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston
Tel: 617/484-9200
Fax: 617/489-9713
e-mail: boxoffice@bostonbaroque.org

For information about Volume I of Belov’s ‘Libretti of Russian Operas’ go to www.leyerlepublications.com. Click on Publication Listings, then click on Opera Libretti, then do a search on ‘Belov’.

Young Concert Artists’: http://www.yca.org/
Yound Concert Artist Belov sound clip: www.yca.org/belov.html
Thea Dispeker Inc., Artists Management: http://www.dispeker.com/