OP1823. ESMERALDA (Dargomyzhsky), recorded 1950, w.Bron Cond. Moscow Radio Ensemble; Anatoli Orfenov, Galina Sakarova, Valdimir Zakharov, Konstantin Polyaev, Alexandra Yakovenko, etc.; ANATOLI ORFENOV: Romances & Songs by Yakovlev, Ogarev, Andreev, Bulakhov & Mendelssohn; Arias from THE COACHMEN AT THE RELAY STATION (Yevstigney Fomin), Pan Tvardovsky (Alexey Verstovsky), Lesta, a Dnieper Mermaid (Stepan Davydov), Treason (Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov), Euryanthe (von Weber), L'amant jaloux (Gretry) & Les Pêcheurs de Perles (Georges Bizet) - recorded 1947-67, partially live. [The ORFENOV recital, particularly the sublime Ippolitov-Ivanov aria from TREASON, is worth the price of the entire set!] (Russia) 2-Aquarius AQVR 325. - 4607123630716
“Alexander Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky) was a 19th-century Russian composer who bridged the gap in Russian opera composition between Mikhail Glinka and the later generation of The Five and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He was already known as a talented musical amateur when in 1833 he met Mikhail Glinka and was encouraged to devote himself to composition. His opera ESMERALDA (libretto by composer, based on Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME) was composed in 1839 (performed 1847), and his RUSALKA was performed in 1856.”
“In 1933 Orfenov found himself in a choir of Opera Theatre Studio under the direction of Stanislavski and a year after that he was a soloist of the Theater. In 1942 Orfenov began his career at the Bolshoi Theater, where he sang up to 1955. From 1950 he was engaged in teaching, as a lecturer in the Gnesin Musical-Pedagogical Institute (1950-1971), in Bolshoi Theatre (1963-1969), Cairo Conservatory (1971-1973), and Bratislava Conservatory (1974-1980). In 1980 to 1984 he was a director of the opera group of the Bolshoi.”
- Z. D. Akron
“The recordings of Valdimir Petrovich Zakharov (1903-1965) are highly prized amongst collectors of Soviet vocal recordings. Zakharov was the star baritone of the All-Union Radio, a troupe which could boast such great artists as Nadezhda Kazantseva, Zara Dolukhanova and Georgy Vinogradov and Anatoly Orfenov. The main remit of the troupe was to familiarize their audience with Western and Russian works both rarely performed on the opera stage and concert platform as well as more popular fare.
Like Vinogradov, Zakharov is not known to have performed on the operatic stage. He possessed quite a large voice and was certainly an expressive and compelling actor (as can be seen in the 1958 film of Rachmaninov’s THE MISERLY KNIGHT which provides the only film footage of the singer. The film also provides a rare instance of a tele-opera where a role is not lip-synched by an actor). The voice was firm, well-trained, intensive and elegant. Unfortunately very little is known about the life of this unique and distinctive artist except that he performed the major baritone roles at All-Union Radio from the 1930s until the 1960s and that he taught at the Gnessin Institute. Such a lack of biographical material is not unusual for radio artists. Luckily, biographies have been published on Kazantseva and Dolukhanova as well as Orfenov’s autobiography.
Although many of the opera broadcasts with Zakharov’s commanding voice have appeared on CD: LES PECHEURS DE PERLES (in the role of Zurga - with Sergei Lemeshev and Nadezhda Kazantseva (OP3176), Massenet’s WERTHER (as Albert - with Ivan Kozlovsky and Maria Maksakova), Rossini’s L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI (as Taddeo - with Zara Dolukhanova), and Leoncavallo’s PAGLIACCI (in the role of Tonio - with Dimiter Uzunov and Pavel Lisitsian), Bizet’s DJAMILEH (OP2919), DIE MEISTERSINGER (OP3189), Dargomyzhsky’s ESMERALDA (OP1823), of Don Carlos in Dargomyzhsky’s STONE GUEST (with Galina Vishnevskaya), Count Almaviva in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (conducted by Kurt Sanderling), and Ford in Nicolai’s DIE LUSTIGE WEIBER VON WINDSOR (OP2893), - there are still a large number of unpublished operas in the archives of Gostelradiofond including the title roles in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI, Grechaninov’s DOBRYNIA NIKITICH, Alexei Kozlovsky’s ULUGBEK, an outstounding Barnaba in Ponchielli’s LA GIOCONDA (with Ivan Petrov), Rolando in Verdi’s LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO and Evgeny in Dzerzhinsky’s QUIET FLOWS THE DON to name but a few. A great many of his song recordings from his numerous radio recitals thankfully also exist.”
- Michael Weston