Biographies: Fedor Chaliapin (Russia, 1873-1938)


Figure 1.--This snapshot of famed singer-actor Fedor Chaliapin shows him with an unidentified child, probably about 1910 before World War I and the Russian Revolution. It may have been taken abroad on one of his concert tours. Given his peasant origins, he was at first favorable toward the Revolution (1917). He left Russia after only a few years under Bolshevism (1922). It wa part of an extended concert tour. He would never return. He came to despisee the limits on freddom imposed by the Bolsheviks. In the first years of the Revolution, it was still posible to leave the country. Once Stalin seized power it became very difficult to leave. Culturl figures who showed any inclination toward free expression were likely to end up in the Gulag.

' Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin also spelled Fyodor Shalyapin was born into a peasant family (1873). He was aRussian operatic basso profundo whose declamation, great resonance, and innovative dynamic acting made him the best-known singer-actor of his time. He worked in a series of low income jobs before becoming involved in aocal peraa compny (1890). He was thus able to study music in Tiflis (Tbilisi, Georgia), His prodigious talent soon became apparent. He was hired by the Mamontov opera company, where he mastered the various Russian, French, and Italian roles that made him so famous. He debuted at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre as Mephistopheles in Charles Gounodís Faust (1895). He sang at La Scala under Arturo Toscanini, alongside Enrico Caruso (1901). Given his peasant origins, he was at first favorable toward the Revolution (1917). He left Russia after only a few years under Bolshevism (1922). It wa part of an extended concert tour. He would never return. He contunued to be a tax-paying Soviet citizen. His first public break with the Communists came even before Stalin was in complete control (1927). The Soviet government had launched a campaign to pressure Chaliapin and other cultural living abroad to return to Russia so they could be comtrolled. When Chaliapin declined, the Soviet Government stripped him of his title of 'The First Peopleís Artist of the Soviet Republic' and threatened to deprive him of Soviet citizenship. By this tim, Stalin was gaining contol. He pressured Maksim Gorky, Chaliapinís longtime friend, to persuade him to return to Russia. Gorky broke with Chaliapin after the singer not only refused, but published his memoirs, Maska i dusha (Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer (1932). Chaliapin in his book denounced the lack of freedom under the Bolsheviks.






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Created: 10:46 PM 8/3/2015
Last updated: 10:46 PM 8/3/2015