B1121. MAXIM GORKY. Chaliapin, an Autobiography as Told to Maxim Gorky. New York, Stein & Day, 1967. 320pp. Indices; Bibliography; Correspondence & Notes; List of Chaliapin’s Repertoire; Photos; DJ.
“Feodor Chaliapin is perhaps the most legendary operatic bass in history. Possessed of a large and beautiful voice, he devoted himself to all aspects of his art -- most significantly his dramatic portrayals -- at a time when such things were not at all typical of singers. In 1894, Chaliapin sang in St. Petersburg and soon was accepted at the Imperial Opera. In 1896, he sang with a private opera company in Moscow, making his début as Ivan Susanin in Glinka's A LIFE FOR THE TSAR, for which he received excellent reviews. His first appearance outside Russia was in Boito's MEFISTOFELE at Teatro alla Scala in 1901. He sang nearly every season at Monte Carlo from 1905 to 1937. There he created the rôle of Don Quixote in Massenet's setting of that tale. In 1933 he starred in a film about the same idealistic knight. In 1907, the bass made his Metropolitan Opera début in MEFISTOFELE, and later that season sang both Gounod's FAUST (Mefistophele) and Mozart's DON GIOVANNI (Leporello). His return to the United States was delayed until 1921 when he sang the title rôle in BORIS GODUNOV. He sang with the Metropolitan Opera until 1929.
In 1908, Chaliapin began his close association with Diaghilev in Paris, where many famous productions of Russian operas were staged. He sang several Russian rôles at Covent Garden in 1913. Chaliapin appeared in nearly all of the great opera houses of Europe, as well as those of England and the United States; in 1935-36 he made a world tour, including performances in China and Japan.
Chaliapin was a large man with great dramatic flair, and he could portray any type of character. He was a master of makeup, and he used this skill to help create his characters. His voice was wide ranging, allowing him to sing baritone rôles like Eugene Onegin as well as bass rôles like Oroveso. Without his performances of BORIS GODUNOV, the opera would probably not have had the enduring popularity that it has subsequently enjoyed.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com