Sister act features top-flight soprano, world-class harpist


By Michelle Forshner

Following three generations of accomplished musicians, it is no wonder that Mlada and Olessa Khudoley have become world-renowned artists in their own right. These musical mavens have come a long way from the conservatories of Moscow, each bringing with them over three decades of talent and passion for music and life.

Celebrated soprano Mlada Khudoley of the Los Angeles Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Mariinsky Theatre, and her equally gifted sister, harpist Olessa Khudoley, will grace the eaves of La

Jolla’s Neurosciences Institute in their American debut performance on

Saturday, Sept. 10.

Mlada Khudoley has graced the finest stages in the world with her remarkable talent for both singing and acting. Having studied at the Moscow Conservatory and later graduated from the Russian Theatrical Academy in 1996, she was well prepared to turn heads in the professional opera scene.

One person whose attention she caught was Placido Domingo of the Three Tenors. Mlada Khudoley starred as Sieglinde in “Die Walkuere” at the Mariinsky Theatre in 2001, alongside the famous Domingo. Working alongside each other for a number of shows, the singers developed an excellent working relationship and friendship.

“After one or two hours working together,” said Mlada Khudoley, “I felt like I knew him 100 years already.”

Domingo helped Mlada develop her skills as a professional opera singer.

“He never refused to give advice to others,” Mlada Khudoley said.

“He told me that I have a great potential as a singer and that he has plans for me in the future. … He believed that I could work for him.”

Mlada Khudoley did not begin her career at the Mariinsky, but in her own home. Born in Moscow, they were raised in a musical household. Alongside her sister Olessa, Mlada started learning music at the tender age of 3.

“I started with piano, children’s songs and some musical theory,” Mlada Khudoley said. “My grandmother taught me. At the time, it was an interesting game.”

Their father, Igor Khudoley, was also an accomplished pianist and instructor at the Moscow Musical College who later performed with her in prestigious Moscow Hall recitals.

“It was a great pleasure to perform with my father, especially because he was a great teacher,” Khudoley said. “My father worked with me on our ensemble and I received a very high level of musical education through him.”

Mlada Khudoley has won the prestigious All-Russian Vocal Competition in Moscow. In 1998, she became a scholarship student of the Richard Wagner International Society. She has developed an international reputation as a vocalist able to realize all lyrical and dramatic components of her roles with absolute persuasion and precision.

Mlada Khudoley has performed in Russia, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States in productions ranging from Verdi’s “Aida” to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Legend of the City of Kitej.” She has also performed alongside conductors such as Gergiev, Noseda, Rinkyavichus and Boemi.

What drives the young singer is her true passion for music.

“I can not imagine myself as a banker or a clerk,” Olessa Khudoley said. “God gave me some kind of talent which was sent to me through my father and mother. It was so natural and automatic that I must continue their life, their job and their traditions.”

Alongside her love of singing, Mlada also developed her acting abilities.

“I dreamed of being an actress and combining both acting and singing,” said Mlada Khudoley. “The opera world is the ideal mix of all that I love in this world. When I started to do the right things for myself I realized all my fears left me. Now I just think about how to perform the composers’ ideas.”

Olessa Khudoley was also blessed with immense musical talent. She was in the last generation of classes at the Russian Performing School led by Vera Dulova, one of the best harp soloists and teachers at the time. It was an honor for the young girl to study with such a master as Dulova, who graced the stages of Europe beginning in the 1930s. Olessa and Mlada Khudoley performed together frequently with their father in the Moscow Conservatory and across Eastern Europe.

The sisters’ relationship is one of love and friendship.

“My relationship with my sister

was always like friends,” Mlada

Khudoley said.

The sisters lived together in their

father’s Moscow apartment until the age of 27, when Mlada began her

independent life. It was this closeness that aided in producing what they will perform in La Jolla.

“I wanted to bring the family together in music after my father died,” Mlada Khudoley said. “I felt a desire to do something together with my sister.”

The performance will be held at the Neurosciences Institute. A special focus of the institute’s research is the intimate relationship between music and the human brain.

The performance is at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $20 for students. Call (858) 509-9219.