V2043. SERGEI LEMESHEV & IRINA MASSLENIKOVA: Arias & Duets from Manon (Massenet) & Roméo (Gounod) (in Russian), recorded 1948-51. (Russia) Aquarius AQVR 296. - 4607123630518
“In Russia, Sergei Yakovlevich Lemeshev (1902-1977) is — along with Feodor Chaliapin — perhaps the most beloved opera singer in recent history. He was born into a very poor peasant family, in a small village, during the years of the Bolshevik revolution and the Civil war, and Lemeshev was required to become a cadet in the Red Army Cavalry School. It was, however, actually the Revolution that helped him make his dream of an operatic career come true, since the Bolsheviks gave the poorest peasants and proletarians a preferential right to free education. Sergei was assigned to study at the Moscow Conservatory where, after surviving a rigorous competition, he was accepted. (This determined his political views, for as he said many times, ‘the Soviets gave me everything’.) In 1931, he became a leading tenor of the Bolshoi, where he sang for the next 34 years, winning great acclaim. His audience grew, along with his fame, and he soon gained a veritable army of fans, called ‘lemeshevists’. His vocal and artistic qualities, evident to every listener, are beauty of timbre, musicality, effortlessness of vocal production, expressiveness, and very clear diction - qualities perhaps most commonly found in bel canto singers. An interesting comment on Lemeshev’s singing was made by the Bolshoi tenor Anatoly Orfenov: ‘He developed a mixed voice of incomparable beauty, which made it possible for him to take the highest notes with such beautiful richness that even specialists could not explain how it was done technically….His high C’s … sounded virile and full…His manner of lowering his larynx a bit on high notes allowed him to perform the parts which we ordinary lyric tenors did not sing’.”
- Natalie, "younglemeshevist"
“The Bolshoi's singer and Kozlovsky's partner in several operas, Irina Maslennikova, said: ‘At the beginning of my career at the Bolshoi I sang first in RIGOLETTO and then in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. As a singer I was absolutely unknown to anyone. My first partners were such celebrities as Ivan Kozlovsky and Marc Reizen. Who was I? Just a beginner. But how they cared for me! At rehearsals they treated me like an accomplished singer making no difference between me and themselves'.”
- N. Victorova, AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN THE MOSCOW KREMLIN, 2000