The Tale of Tsar Saltan   (Rimsky-Korsakoff)  (Nebolsin;  Alexander Pirogov, Georgy Nelepp, Nadezhda Chubenko, Valeria Barsova, Faina Petrova)  (AQVR 421)
Item# OP3436
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The Tale of Tsar Saltan   (Rimsky-Korsakoff)  (Nebolsin;  Alexander Pirogov, Georgy Nelepp, Nadezhda Chubenko, Valeria Barsova, Faina Petrova)  (AQVR 421)
OP3436. THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN - Excerpts (Rimsky-Korsakoff), recorded 1944, w.Nebolsin Cond. Bolshoi Opera Ensemble; Alexander Pirogov, Georgy Nelepp, Nadezhda Chubenko, Valeria Barsova, Faina Petrova, etc.; VALERIA BARSOVA: Russian Folk Songs. (Russia) AQVR 421. 4607123632277


“In the four decades after the departure of Feodor Chaliapin in 1919, two Russian basses dominated the stage at Moscow's mighty Bolshoi: Mark Reizen, tall and elegant, whose magnificent instrument had a Slavic edge somewhat softer than most, had but one rival. Alexander Pirogov, commanding and powerful, owned a voice blacker in timbre, less smooth, but arresting in its impact and guided by theatrical instincts of overwhelming authority. Although stories abound of their dislike for each other, their presence assured the theater's primacy in having bass singers perfectly suited to the many great bass roles that give Russian opera its special tang.

Pirogov…was engaged by the Zimin Free Opera in Moscow where, in two years time (1922 - 1924), he learned his craft and gained familiarity with several leading roles. In 1924, Pirogov was invited to join the Bolshoi. Soon he was heard as Gremin, Ivan Susanin, the Old Miller, Russlan, and Ivan the Terrible from the Russian repertory, in addition to such leading characters in Western opera as Don Basilio and Méphistophélès. He reportedly learned last-named in just two weeks. In 1929, Pirogov was honored by being assigned the title role in BORIS GODUNOV; thereafter he was known as an unsurpassed interpreter of this mightiest of all Russian protagonists.

Establishing a reputation for hard work and meticulous attention to detail, Pirogov continued to sharpen and refine his interpretations. He arrived at the theater early, applying his makeup and stepping into costume long before he was summoned to the stage. Although many stories suggest an imperious presence in his personal affairs, others paint another portrait, revealing a friendly and outgoing approach toward his colleagues. Although he retired from the Bolshoi in 1954, Pirogov was the choice for Boris when the opera was filmed in 1955. He had already been awarded the Stalin Prize for his performance of the role and accompanied the film to Venice for the international film festival held there. Although the film was not a prizewinner, the Italian film academy struck a special medal to honor the singer.

After 1954, Pirogov spent most of his time in his native city, traveling to Moscow only for occasional appearances on-stage and in concert. When the Bolshoi was invited to La Scala in 1964, Pirogov was selected to sing Boris. However, after fishing in his beloved Oka River on a particularly hot day in late June, he returned home and retired for a nap. Awakening with chest pains in the middle of the night, he sent his son for a doctor, but by the time the physician arrived, the bass was already dead. Thus, Pirogov was denied the possibility of one final triumph.”

- Erik Eriksson,

“The Bolshoi had a remarkable dramatic tenor, György Mikhailovich Nelepp, an artist of impeccable taste, with a beautiful, youthfully resonant voice. I have yet to hear a better Hermann in THE QUEEN OF SPADES. When I first joined the Bolshoi, we worked on FIDELIO together; that time ranks among the best memories of my career.”

- Galina Vishnevskaya, GALINA, pp.185-86

“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

"Vassili Vassilyevich Nebolsin (30 May 1898 - 29 October 1958) was a Russian conductor. He studied at the college of the Moscow Philharmonic and became conductor of the orchestra in 1918. He became choir master of the Bolshoi in 1920 and its conductor in 1922. He taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1940 to 1945. The Stalin Prize was awarded him in 1950.

Born with a German name, Ivan Petrov assumed the role of quintessential Russian bass during the age between Mark Reizen and Alexander Pirogov and Evgeny Nesterenko, who followed a generation after. Endowed with a generous instrument -- solid, long-ranged, and refined -- Petrov attained first rank among the low-voiced singers at Moscow's Bolshoi and held his position for more than two decades. The onset of diabetes caused his retirement at age 50, but not before he had left an imposing recorded legacy. Petrov's family were naturalized Germans, resident in Russia under the name of Krause for several generations. His father had descended from a tradition of engineers and scientists, but singing, too, had been an integral aspect in the succeeding generations of the Krause family. After a childhood in Siberia during which he spent in his favorite pastimes of volleyball and football, Johann Krause moved with his parents to Moscow in 1936. The specter of German ambition overshadowed the Soviet Union at the time and those bearing German surnames were suspect. Hence, the family chose a new name and the teenager became known as Ivan Petrov. Through his studies at the Moscow Conservatory, Petrov's bass voice began growing noticeably in size and compass. At age 19, he was already working on arias of advanced difficulty; the following year, he was engaged by tenor Ivan Kozlovsky and the Moscow Philharmonic Society. He joined the ensemble in tours of operas presented in concert format. In 1941 alone, after his country was under attack by Germany, Petrov participated in many of the hundreds of performances given for soldiers both on front lines and recuperating in hospitals. In 1942, Petrov auditioned for the Bolshoi Theater and was engaged, becoming a member of the Soviet Union's most prestigious opera theater at the age of 22. In 1947, Petrov was a member of a delegation of young Russian artists sent to the First World Youth Festival in Prague and won a gold medal. Budapest, too, acknowledged his qualities as a singer when he appeared there in 1949. Despite the presence of more established basses, Petrov made himself known at the Bolshoi, first in small roles, soon thereafter in leading parts. By the 1950s, he had become one of the theater's leading artists. During his distinguished career at Russia's great theater, Petrov won several Stalin Prizes for his work in a repertory that came to embrace some two and a half dozen leading parts. Among his most acclaimed were Boris Godunov, Dosifei in Mussorgsky's KHOVANSHCHINA, Ruslan in Glinka's RUSLAN AND LUDMILLA, Don Basilio, Kochubei in Tchaikovsky's MAZEPPA, Méphistofélés in Gounod's FAUST (his favorite), and King Philip in Verdi's DON CARLO. A recording of Verdi's REQUIEM conducted by Igor Markevitch (with soprano Galina Vishnevskaya) demonstrates Petrov's assured sense of Verdian line and dramatic intensity. In 1964, when singing Prince Igor with the Bolshoi at Milan's La Scala, Petrov was honored by the daughter of the famed Russian bass-baritone Feodor Chaliapin when she presented him with a ring her father wore for performances of BORIS GODUNOV. By that time, Petrov had sung the part in venues far afield from his home theater, also offering his Gounod devil in numerous opera houses in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Western Europe. In the years of his prime, the bass also won a positive reputation as a recitalist, appearing with his accompanist of three decades' association, Semyon Stuchevsky."

- Zillah Dorset Akron