Legends: Fëdor Ivanovič Šaljapin

The operatic bass singer Fëdor Ivanovič Šaljapin was a towering figure in the pantheon of Russian culture. His voice was said to be as deep and resonant as a thunderclap, and his presence on stage was as captivating as a lightning strike. He was born in 1873, and his career spanned from the 1890s until his death in 1938. From his humble beginnings as a choirboy in a small village, Šaljapin rose to become one of the most celebrated and influential singers of the age. With a powerful voice that could captivate an audience in a minute, Šaljapin was renowned for bringing a character to life and creating a powerful atmosphere. His performance of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov is remembered as one of the greatest of its time. His interpretations of works by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, and many others have been revered for their depth and beauty. He was one of the few singers to earn the title of “People’s Artist of the USSR”, and his legacy remains to this day as a testament to the power of music and theatre.His mastery of the stage was legendary, and his performances of Russian folk tales and operas were renowned for their emotional intensity and artistry. Šaljapin was also an excellent actor and captured the audience with his ability to portray a wide range of characters on stage, from the tragic Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust to the boisterous and funny character of Don Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. His wild and passionate presence on the stage earned him the nickname “The Tsar of Song,” He was lauded by many of his contemporaries as the greatest living opera singer.

Read the entire interview here, in the 9th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.


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