OP3362. RUSLAN AND LYUDMILA (Glinka), Recorded 1938, w.Samuil Samosud Cond. Bolshoi Opera Ensemble; Mark Reizen, Valeria Barsova, Maxim Mikhailov, Nikandr Khanaev, Elizaveta Antonova, Vassily Lubentsov, Lyubov Stavrovskaya & Solomon Khromchenko; RUSLAN & LYUDMILA (Glinka) - Excerpts, recorded 1937-38, w.Samuil Samosud Cond. Bolshoi Opera Ensemble; Alexander Baturin, Valeria Barsova, Elena Slivinskaya, Bronislava Zlatogorova, Lyubov Stavrovskaya & Solomon Khromchenko; MARK REIZEN: Farlaf's rondo (Act 2) tonfilm; MAXIM MIKHAILOV: Ruslan's aria (Act 2) Gramplasttrest 03568; VALERIA BARSOVA: rare tonfilm recordings incl. Farandole ( Bizet), Waltz (Arditi); Arias from Madama Butterfly, Roméo et Juliet & Mignon; VALERIA BARSOVA & GEORGY VINOGRADOV: Roméo et Juliet - duet (all in Russian), recorded 1936-40. (Russia) 4-Aquarius AQVR 418. Slipcase Edition. - 4607123632208
“The story of his move to the Bolshoi has been told in many sources. By the 1920s he was already a leading bass at the Mariinsky Theater in Leningrad and had also toured in Europe. In 1930 the Mariinsky was performing in Moscow, and Stalin attended. Afterwards he asked Reizen why he sang in Leningrad and not Moscow, and Reizen replied that he had a contract and also an apartment there. Stalin indicated that he could do something about both, and the next day a Soviet official picked Reizen up with orders to hunt for an apartment in Moscow! From 1930-1954 he was the leading bass at the Bolshoi, but this was also the height of the era when Russia closed itself off from the rest of the world, and so Europe and America heard very little of Reizen.
One of my favorite vocal critics is Conrad L. Osborne, who wrote in the METROPOLITAN OPERA GUIDE TO RECORDED OPERA, 'Reizen is stupendous. His lush, voluminous basso rolls through the music unconstrainedly. It sits easily at the bottom, peals forth brilliant Fs and F-sharps at the top (and one hair-raising high G), and in between displays flowing line and a mezza voce that rivals prime Pinza or Chaliapin. Ruslan's heroic fire and tenderness are there - it's a complete piece of work'. John Steane, in THE GRAND TRADITION, writes this about Reizen: 'The voice was also completely unified, its range well displayed in Khan Kontchak's solo from PRINCE IGOR, descending with deep bass relish to the low F, and always easy in production. His was a wholesome art: another singer for students. Also one of the best of our century'.
Reizen was a very different singer from his great predecessor Chaliapin, who had a similar kind of dark, rolling bass, but whose presence also overwhelmed the listener with dramatic intensity, frequently using theatrical touches to emphasize a dramatic point. The style can come off as histrionic, that some found excessive. Don't take this the wrong way - Chaliapin was a very great and exciting artist. Reizen, however, preferred to use more purely musical means to make his effect. He conveyed power through the sheer size and dark richness of his voice, and he was an extremely effective Boris. But he was equally at home in Schubert Lieder (Chaliapin sang them but not as comfortably). His strengths, in addition to a uniquely rich sound from top to bottom with all registers perfectly blended, included a bel canto-like legato."
- Henry Fogel
“Certainly one of the most sonorous, expressive and beautifully-controlled bass voices ever to have been recorded was that of Mark Reizen. He was a legend in his own lifetime in Russia and, at the age of 90, he was still able to make a remarkable stage appearance, singing Prince Gremin in EUGEN ONÉGIN….one of the greatest bass singers of the 20th century.”
- Alan Bilgora, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2010
“A superb singer and powerful actor with a highly expressive, rich voice of astonishing color and range, [Reizen’s] forte was legendary, but he also had a pianissimo so expressive it could stop a rehearsal to allow Natalia Shpiller singing opposite him to regain her composure, while the rest of the cast were drying their eyes.”
- Richard D. Sylvester, TCHAIKOVSKY’S COMPLETE SONGS
“Valeria Barsova was singing in a Moscow cabaret in 1915 when she was noticed by Sergei Zimin, director of the Zimin Opera, where she made her operatic début in 1917, as Gilda in RIGOLETTO. Other roles at this theatre included Susanna in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Kostanze in DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL, Rosina in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, the four heroines of LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN and Nedda in PAGLIACCI.
In 1919, she sang Rosina as a last minute replacement for prima-donna Antonina Nezhdanova, at the Hermitage Theatre in Saint Petersburg, opposite Feodor Chaliapin. She then appeared at the Stanislavski Theatre and the Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre, notably as Clairette in LA FILLE DE MADAME ANGOT.
She finally made her début at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1920 where she was to sing every season until 1948. Besides Italian and French roles such as Gilda, Violetta, Mimì, Butterfly, Juliette, Manon, she also excelled in Russian operas, notably the leading female roles in works such as RUSLAN AND LYUDMILA, THE SNOW MAIDEN, A LIFE FOR THE TSAR, SADKO, THE QUEEN OF SPADES, THE GOLDEN COCKEREL. In 1929, she sang in concert in Berlin and made a tour of Poland. After retiring from the stage, she taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1950 until 1953. She retired in Sochi on the Black Sea, where she died at 75.”
- Z. D. Akron
“Certainly Khanaev’s career is worthy of a long overdue consideration, as his importance as an artist has not been so easily recognised in the West, mainly because his recordings are rarely found as they were not distributed in the same volume as those of Kozlovsky and Lemeshev….For admirers of the Russian tenor voice and a singer who deserves to be better appreciated, this...is a ‘must’.”
- Alan Bilgora, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2011
“Khanaev studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Zviagina from 1921 to 1924. In 1925 he worked at the Opera Studio of the Bolshoi Theater, and from 1926 to 1954 he was a soloist with the Bolshoi Theater. Khanaev was a singer of great theatrical and musical artistry. His unique talents were particularly evident in the Russian classical repertoire, for example, as Herman in PIQUE DAME and in the title rôle of SADKO. His other parts included Shuiskii in BORIS GODUNOV, Don José in CARMEN, the title rôle in OTELLO, and Grigorii Melekhov in Dzerzhinskii’s THE QUIET DON. Khanaev taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1948 to 1950.”
- Z. D. Akron