F. I. Shalyapin
Fyodor Ivanovich Shalyapin, born on Feb. 13 (Feb 1, O.S.), 1873, died Apr. 12, 1938, was one of the greatest Russian singers ever to appear in Western opera houses. The son of a peasant, he had no formal education and little musical training. He made his debut (1890) in Ufa, then moved to St. Petersburg. In 1896 he joined a private Moscow opera company, where he starred as Boris Godunov and Ivan the Terrible. Going to the West, he appeared at La Scala (1901); the Metropolitan Opera (1907), where he was not appreciated; the Paris Opera (1908); and Covent Garden (1926). A return engagement (1921) at the Metropolitan as Boris Godunov was an unqualified success, and Shalyapin remained there for eight seasons.
In addition to the Russian repertory, he excelled as Mephistopheles (in Gounod's Faust), and as Don Basilio, Leporello, Boito's Mefistofele, and King Philip. A huge man with dark-timbred basso, Shalyapin was one of the first singers to apply psychological techniques to operatic acting. He created the title role in Massenet's Don Quichotte at Monte Carlo in 1910 and later made a film of the opera.
M. O. Reizen
Reizen, Mark Ossipovich. (born) Nikitovka, Ukraine 3.7.1895. Russian bass. At first engineer, then studies at Kharkhov with the Italian professor Bougamelli. Debut Kharkhov 1921 Pimen; sings there Ruslan, Dossifei, the Miller (Roussalka), Basilio, Mephistopheles, Kotchubei etc. Leningrad 1925, Moscow Bolshoi 1928. Performs in all of Europe 1930 (Berlin,Barcelone,Monaco, in Mephistopheles and Basilio Paris, London. Imposing on stage but also as a great interpreter of the lied and melodies. Moscow Bolshoi regularly until 1954, then still performing occasionally as well as on Radio and in concert. ; Gives an important recital for his 80th (anniversary), and for his 90th sings Gremin at the Bolshoi in Moscow in July 1985. Often considered to possess the most beautiful and powerful bass voice of the century, an accomplished actor and musician, he left a special legacy, besides the above roles, in Boris, Salieri (Mozart and Salieri), Soussanin, Mephisto (Gounod), Konchak, The Viking merchant (Sadko), The old Gypsy (Aleko) as well as the operas of Wagner (Wotan) and Verdi ( Philip II, Procida)(D)
Note by VH:
Most of these recordings are so hard to find, that for most people, the only way to hear this phenomenal voice is RIGHT HERE. With the exception of the Mephistopheles, the others can be found only on LP so far. These are a small sampling of the treasures still hidden in the Russian archives. In his prime, Reizen's voice easily ranged over two octaves and a half, from low F to high Aflat. The contemporary cartoon by N. Lis shown here, is entitled "Reizen's high G" and suggests the impression made by the voice. Follows a listing - so pitifully short - of what has been reissued on CD of the recordings of one of the greatest singing artists of this century.
Especially needed are reissues of classical songs and romances, in which Reizen ranks with the greatest masters. With the following new feature, this page tries to fill in the gap, starting with Tchaikovsky songs, for which Reizen had a particular affinity.
Mark Reizen died November 25, 92 . He issued records as late as age 80 and 87.
M. D. Mikhailov
One of the great basses at the Bolshoi in the period of the 30's to the 50's Maxim Mikhailov was immensely popular with the public. Deep and powerful, with impressive low notes, Mikhailov's voice was what many associate with the notion of a "Russian bass". He was especially noted for such roles as Pimen in Boris Godunov, Ivan Susanin, or Khan Konchak in Prince Igor and was equally appreciated in popular song and in recitals. Initally in the priesthood, he was largely self taught. His robust and simple interpretations can be heard on record and can also be seen in the movie "The Bolshoi Concert" from 1951, still available on video-tape, in which he can be seen in the role of Konchak.
I. S. Kozlovzky
The Russian tenor Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovzky was born at Marianovka near Poltava, Ukraine on March 24, 1900. He studied at Kiev, drama, piano and singing with N.V. Lissenko and Muravyova. He debuted at Poltava in 1920 as Faust then moved to the Kharkov opera in 1924.
He was a leading tenor at the Moscow Bolshoi from 1926 to 1954, then appeared occasionally until 1970 (role of the Innocent in Boris and farewell concert). In an unusually long career, he appeared still frequently in public 1972-76 and sings on July 4, 1985 for the Reizen's 90'th birthday at the Moscow Bolshoi. Kozlovsky gave many concerts in all Russia including Russian music of Schubert, Schumann, List. He taught at the Moscow conservatory 1956-1980. With his own company, 1938-41, he staged Werther, Orfeo (Gluck), and Katerina of Arkas, which he directed.
Singer mastering a rare technique he was famous as Lensky (Onegin), Berendey (Snegurochka - the Snow Maiden), Levko (May Night), Vladimir (Prince Igor), Nero by Rubinstein, Dubrovsky by Napravnik, The Indian Guest (Sadko) etc. He also encouraged contemporary works and was outstanding in the western repertoire: Faust(Gounod), Werther, Rigoletto , Barber of Seville, Lohengrin, Orfeo, Traviata, Boheme, etc. Kozlovsky was renowned for his high register and his rich palette of shadings. Ivan Kozlovsky died in Moscow on December 23, 1993.
G. P. Vinogradov
Georgy Vinogradov was born in Kazan, Russia in 1908. He first studied the violin and viola at the School of Music there, and later was a student at the Military Academy of Communications. In 1937 he studied at the Tatar Opera Studio in Kazan, and then completed his studies at the Moscow Conservatory and was engaged as a soloist with the Soviet National Radio. In 1943 Vinogradov became a soloist with the Soviet Army Song and Dance Ensemble, and as such sang at the front during World War II. He continued as soloist with this group until 1951, when he became permanent solist with Moscow Radio, and also embarked on very successful concert tours.
Although he appears never to have performed on the stage, he did participate in many radio performances of opera, among them Manon, Don Giovanni, Mignon and a number of Russian operas.
Although Soviet sources claim his career continued until 1963, Mikhail Alexandrovitch, who knew him well, tells another story. According to Alexandrovitch, Vinogradov got into a drunken brawl with some Polish officials shortly after the war and so embarrassed the government that his career was effectively ended. This is borne out by the fact that a number of Soviet musical references published during the Fifties and Sixties don't mention him at all, although he was one of the most famous singers in Russia. In any case, there is little doubt that Vinogradov was one of the finest tenors in Russia in his time.
He died in Moscow in 1980.
I. M. Skobtsov
Ivan Skobtsov was a solist with the Moscow Bolshoi theatre for period of almost 30 years, 1930-1958. He was awarded the title of Honoured Arts Worker of the Russian Federation in 1976. Skobtsov entered the Moscow Conservatory in 1921 after finishing service in the Red Army. There he studied with professors N.G. Raisky and V.S. Tyutyunnik.
At the Bolshoi, he played roles such as Svat (Rusalka by Dargomyzhsky), Skula (Prince Igor by Borodin), Troekurov (Dubrovsky by Napravnik), Gryaznoi (Rimsky-Korsakov's Tsar's Bride), Riznichyi (Tosca), Dankairo (Carmen), Bonzo (Buterfly), Figaro (Nozze), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Wagner (Faust). He also played roles in Soviet operas such as "Quiet Flows the Don" by Dzerzhinsky. He appears in opera recordings, next to the greatest stars including Kozlovsky, Mikhailov, Reizen, Lemeshev, Pirogov and others, many of whom expressed their appreciation of his special talent.
Ivan Skobtsov is especially famous as one of the best performers of the Russian folk song. His warm velvety voice resounded on radio and in numerous recordings. His simple style denotes superior nusicianship and a great love for the rich folksong heritage of Russia. Here we present Ivan Skobtsov in Russian folk songs and Romances by Russian composers.
N. A. Obukhova
The great Russian mezzo-soprano and contralto Nadezhda Andreyevna Obukhova was born at Moscow, March 6, 1886. She died in Feodossia on August 15, 1961 after a long (1916-1948) and distinguished career as a star of the Moscow Bolshoi Opera House. Before her debut as Pauline in 1916 she studied in Moscow with professor Masetti.
Her many opera roles included Marina Mnishek (Boris), Marfa (Khovanshchina), Lubava, The Countess (Queen of Spades), Amneris, Eboli, Azucena, Carmen, Erda, Frika. The great range of her beautiful voice allowed her to tackle mezzo and contralto roles with equal ease. Awarded the high distinction of People's Artist of the USSR (1937) she was equally celebrated as a recitalist and known for her renditions of classical songs and Russian romances.
How famous was Obukhova's voice on the radio in popular romances is apparent from a moving passage in A. Solzhenitsin's novel "The First Circle". Here is a small piece from it:
"By the end of the century, Obukhova would be remembered as Chaliapin is today. And we are her contemporaries...
...As soon as the tubes warmed up, the music of stringed instruments sounded, and then the low, passionate voice of Obukhova flowed into the quiet room:
'No, it's not you whom I love so passionately,
Not for me the radiance of your beauty...'
It had to be that song, as though on purpose !"
Isabella Yurieva is one of the brightest interpreters of old Russian romance. Listening to her voice, you feel irresistable fascination of simple and sincere Russian melody, the whole gamut of feelings and emotions.
She was only a seventeen-year-old singer, when she came to Leningrad from Rostov-on-Don. There her debut was a real success.
Later Yurieva moved to Moscow and soon the whole Moscow theatrical music lovers knew her name.
The charm og youth and femininity combined with unpretentiousness were her main features at the performance. Slim, with fluffy fair hair, Yurieva was a beautiful and graceful woman without even a hint of that vulgar manner, typical of some variety singers. She was a good actress by nature and had a gift to contact with the audience. Addressing to her listeners Yurieva took into their confidence the thoughts, feelings and emotions of her songs' characters. Her unusually strong, robust voice, rare in timbre and beauty was especially alluring in high, broad notes. In her singing she expressed her own rich inner world, sense of music and lofty ideals of true love. She deepened the simple poetry of songs with versatility and delicity of musical intonations. In her best songs there was a sensation of an image and openness of feelings. That is why Yurieva's lyrical character appeared before her listeners as a sincere, respectful lady.
Yurieva performed old romances, romances of the 19th century, and modern lyrical songs. Gypsy romances were also included in her repertoire. While singing them she used typical Gypsy folk intonation and was nicknamed a "white Gypsy".
Yurieva had her own special "note", expressing cordial frankness and naivity. It was free "nightingale" note, close to open broad sounding of folk singing. It adorned beautiful, happy songs, where her hope and dreams were felt and heard.
Alla Pugacheva is the embodiment of success in the true Russian style. That is, success against all odds. And in that sense, Alla Pugacheva is the true Russian national legend in the full meaning of the word. In an interview, which was given to me by the singer Vyacheslav Maleznik who used to work with Pugacheva in "The Happy Fellows" in 1974, Maleznik called Alla "a black hole" accumulating the energetic resources of those who surround her. In this there is a simple truth - Alla Pugacheva, like a shark, always in motion, and there are a few people who are so adaptive to all things new, and interesting. Alla has a tremendous intuition and one is not likely to meet anyone with more attractive qualities - this is why she became the first, the best, and still possesses these qualities today.
Her biography is basically - years of studying (the Ippolitov-Ivanov school of Music, the Lunacharsky School of Theatrical Arts), years of searching (her first recordings on the radio, made when she was only 16, her first trips with the promotions crew of the radio station "Youth" in Siberia and Far East, working with the bands "New Electron", "Moscovites", "Happy Fellows", and Oleg Lundstrem's ensemble) Her first spark of success came upon receiving of the third place prize at the All Union competition of pop artists in 1974 with songs like "Posidim Pookaem" and "Ermolova from Clear Ponds"
How was Alla Borisovna Pugacheva in those days? Even those who knew her then could not truly tell. The Alla Pugacheva of those days was overshadowed by the Woman, who sang. The singer, whom many did not believe (or so it seemed to her then), but who, notwithstanding, was victorious over all and became a star. The first Star (and not the heroine of Socialist work) with all the resulting God-like qualities of that status in then the Soviet Union. She achieved everything with hard work and struggle with all her flaws and numerous complexes, with her, maybe even physical, shortcomings, which gradually ceased to be so to her millions of fans.
On a silver platter she was handed, for once in her life, her only chance - to participate in the competition "The Golden Orpheus" in place of Georgy Movsesyan, who was dropped due to his amoral conduct. It was the victory at Varnes in 1975 with the song "Arlekino" that gave us the great singer and actress, which we so love. The victory at Sopot on the International Contest with the song "Kings Can Do Everything" in 1978 once again proved her status quo.
In the twenty years that followed that event Alla Pugacheva has reached everything one could wish for in Russia and the former Soviet Union. She is the last Peoples Honor Singer of the Soviet Union, the laureate of many domestic and foreign awards, as well as Russia's number one newsmaker, and the participant of many prestigious musical festivals all over the world (which she has toured many times). Her album sales amount to about 200 million copies, and the movies in which she played, though not considered the best in cinematography, have had enormous success in the box office. Her concert programs, such as "The Monologues of a Singer" (1981) and "I Came and I'm Talking"(1984) are to this day yet to be outdone. Her "Christmas Reunions" (1988-1992) have, for five years in a row, gathered 15 thousand viewers. Her name has been given to an ocean liner in Finland, a brand of French perfume, a magazine (whose editor in chief is Alla herslef) and a line of shoes (also designed by Allla) as well as many little girls all over Russia.
However, who can dare say that Alla (born in 1949) "has said her last word"? Only someone who is blind, deaf and stupid, all at the same time. This, let the God-like voice ring, the voice who can so tonalize even the simplest of melodies, that even a heart made of ice, as it melts, would fill with its love towards all things beautiful that very flacon whose name is Life.
Utyosov L. O.
Leonid Osipovich Utyosov was and is the legend and pride of the Soviet culture. Regardless of his lack in musical background, he became the most popular singer of his time. In a country where jazz was declared "music of the fats," he managed to not only establish, but to also preserve for many years to come, the first of the Soviet jazz. Similarly, not a literary figure, he managed to write amazing poetry and published three books in prose. People, who knew Utyosov closely, always remarked on his bright charismatic personality, as they raised him to the title one of the wittiest people of his epoch.
Leonid Utyosov was born in 1895, in Odessa, to a middle-class Jewish family. In 1911, he became an actor in a provincial theater troop.
Utyosov's real last name was originally Vaisbein. When he was selecting his penname, he wanted it to sound novel, beautiful, and high. He liked the last name "Skalov," literally, "of a cliff," but in Odessa, an actor by such name already existed. Sorting through many words which in their meaning embodied great heights, the young actor finally decided on a name, which now is known by millions, "of the peak."
Traveling with his troop from town to town, and actively participating in various theatrical productions, with the help of his natural talent, Utyosov quickly became a real professional; in the beginning of the 1920's he already performed in various venues in Moscow, and then in Leningrad. But, during all of those years he dreamt about forming his own jazz band. At the end of 1928 he started making his dream come true. In a few months, Utyosov gathered motivated musicians with whom he put on his first program. And, on March 8, 1929, the stage of the Leningrad Small Opera Theater became home to the first debut of the new jazz band. The success of this performance was more than what many hoped for. This is how Leonid Utyosov himself attempted to explain it:
"It is easiest to say, that our success was in the novelty-such numbers like our thea-jazz had not yet been performed. There was of course jazz created by a blueprint, a foreign blueprint... We, however, suggested a completely new, genre, untried, theaterilized jazz...Our whole program was sprinkled with jokes, sarcasm, humor. In front of the audience not only a band was born, but also a company, a gathering of the happy, not dampened by sadness, people, with whom one could find joy and with whom one was certain to have a good time...I think that the success of our first program was grounded particularly in our optimism, and humor. "
From that point and to the end of his life, Utyosov became an irreplaceable leader and a soloist of the self-created band. Although many cursed and criticized Utyosov's jazz, the public fell in love with the jazz immediately. Leonid Osipovich was the first performer of such a wide array of songs, which left the whole country singing. Likewise, the movie "Cheerful Guys," (1934) in which Utyosov starred in the main role, with his band, was a great success. In the years of the war, Utyosov, with his jazz band, performed in the army, and his performances brought liveliness back to the thankful listeners. On May 9, 1945, the band participated in the celebration of victory in Moscow's Red Square.
In 1965, Utyosov received the title of the people's artist of USSR.
Leonid Osipovich Utyosov died on March 9, 1982. Luckily, his voice remains on tapes and records, as well as in his books and poems. And of course, the wonderful, remarkable artist will remain forever in thankful memory of the people
People's artist of Russia
She has a right to be called a star of the world show business. During years of her creative life, Larisa Dolina participated in numerous prestigious All-Union and international competitions, where she won many prizes and awards.
In June 1998 in St-Petersburg Larisa Dolina's video clip on a song "A Singer and a Musician" was recorded. It was a first Dolina's work with a director Oleg Gusev. A video "A Singer and a Musician" opened an absolutely different star to the TV spectators: changes in the image and repertoire increased the number of her teenage fans - from 16 years old and more. The other Dolina's joint work with a clipmaker Oleg Gusev was a stylish video on a song "Three Roses" ("Black-and-White Destiny"). In 1999 Larisa Dolina made two new videos on songs "I Love You" (a duet with Soso Pavliashvili) and "I Will Survive". A director of these videoclips is the singer's husband and producer Ilea Spitsin.
Philip has received two "Monte-Carlo World Music Awards" as a Best Selling Russian Artist in 1996 and 1999.
8 times he has been nominated for the Russian version of the Grammy "Ovation".
His concert tour "The Best, Favorite and Only for You"
became the "Best Tour of the Last Decade (1991-2001)".
Dozens of times he has been honored as a "Singer of the Year" by all major Russian Award Ceremonies.
He is also in the Guinness Book of World Records
for the most sold out shows performed in a row - a 32 concert marathon at the same venue (4 000 seats).
Philip is the first Russian Singer to be given a FAMA award for the Contribution to the Latin music and Culture.
January 20, 2001 Philip Kirkorov was honored as "The Distinguished Artist of Russian Federation" - the first such honor given in the new millenium by the law signed by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
February 23, 2001 he was nominated as the Ambassador of Goodwill.
He is a brilliant creative personality, that combines the talents of a singer, a dancer, a choreographer, a director and a producer.
Much has already been written and said about Philip Kirkorov by reviewers, friends and ill-wishers. His life and songs attract the attention of millions of people the world over, they have evoked most contradictory views, which only show his outstanding personality. His constant search for identity, songs and friends keeps him in the limelight of life and variety stage. He works almost round the clock unsparingly.
Philip was born into the family of the Bulgarian singer, Bedros Kirkorov, on April 30. His father and mother, Victoria, a beautiful Russian girl, surrounded him with great love and care. This greatly influenced his character and life. He lavishly shares his life's love and happiness with his audiences.
He dreamt about stage career when he was five and travelled along with his parents from city to city where his father gave performances.
As is often the case, he was turned down at a theatrics institute on account of not being capable enough. This only urged him on, and he applied to the Gnesins Music School in Moscow. Philip began to appear on concert stage in 1985.
His first performance on TV was in November 1985 in the "Wider Circle" programme, in which he sang a song in Bulgarian. In 1987 he received an invitation from the Leningrad Music Hall directed by Ilya Rakhlin and went on a concert tour of Germany where he appeared in a popular show at the "Friedrichstadtpalast" Theatre in Berlin. Philip had his first experience of performing on a professional stage, but he realized that work in one and the same city, singing a couple of songs on one and the same stage, and leading a relatively comfortable life was not for him. And he left the Music Hall, going virtually nowhere. But he was lucky by having met poet Ilya Reznik, who was one of the first to help the young singer.
In April 1988 Ilya Reznik celebrated his jubilee at the "Rossiya" Concert Hall in Moscow. It was there that the first meeting of Alla Pugacheva and Philip Kirkorov took place. It was very short, on the stage, but those several minutes played an important role in Philip's life. They did not see each other for six months after that, but in October 1988 Philip received an invitation from Alla to take part in the first "Christmas Meetings".
By that time Philip had already finished his musical education, successfully appeared at the first competition in his life in Yalta, made his first clip on the theme of the popular song "Carmen", and gone to Mongolia to appear in free concerts for military units, where Alla's invitation found him. That invitation and the show in which he took part were, perhaps, one of the most memorable events in his life. It was then that he entered the world of show business. During preparations for "Christmas Meetings" he met the poet who later wrote for him the best songs which were a great success with the audiences. These were "You, You, You", "Sky and Earth", "Atlantis" and " At Night and in Day Time". That man was Leonid Derbenev. May he rest in peace.
1989 was the decisive year for Philip's career. He was the partner of Alla Pugacheva in her concert tour of Australia and Germany, where Philip became popular with Russian emigrants. And he gave his first solo performances in Perm. At the end of 1989 Philip decided to leave the "Alla Pugacheva Theatre", but he gave a promise to himself to return to it in several years, more mature and worthy of the right to ask Alla, his only love, to be his muse.
And so he left for nothing and nowhere again. In 1990 he began his career as a solo performer. He received his first Grand Prix for the song "Sky and Earth" at the "Hit-90" Competition in St.Petersburg, which became his beloved city. Next came performances at sports palaces and stadiums, and first solo concerts abroad in 1990, 1991, 1992. More and more hits, each song became popular. The "Atlantis" videoclip was considered the best in 1992. The album "You, You, You" was sold like hot cakes in big circulation.
His concerts in St.Petersburg in 1992 alone drew full house in the "Oktyabrsky" Hall seating 4,000. Two solo programmes, first "Sky and Earth" and then the "Atlantis" show, which was later regarded the best show of the year followed one after the other.
At that time his first tours of the USA, Canada, Germany and Israel took place. Philip remembers to this day his first visit to New York on the eve of the New Year and his performance in the posh restaurant "Rasputin".
He was accompanied by invariable success, Fortune smiled on him and he was nicknamed "Lucky". However, few people knew what titanic efforts, both physical and nervous, it cost, how much he worked, what disappointment and disillusionment he encountered. Heated arguments with rude and greedy impresarios, envious and vicious press comment, treachery on the part of friends. But his ardent wish to bring joy and pleasure to audiences has helped him, and continues to help, overcome all difficulties.
And so "Lucky" greets 1993 with the gold figurine of the "Ovatsiya" Prize as "the Best Singer of the Year", a prize of the international competition "Golden Orpheus", a "Memento of the Successful Concert Tour of Australia" and two hits: "Tell Me, Tell Me, Cherry" and "Marina". He was tired and wanted to fly or sail away, but his eyes were riveted on the woman he adored since he was fifteen years old boy.
Came 1994, the most important year in Philip's life. He met again with the lady he loved, and she became his Muse and Love. It was the begining of their Great Creative Allience.
That was the happiest time in his life. He created the programme "I'm not Raffaello", which included golden hits of Engelbert Hamperdink, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka and, of course, the great Elvis Presley. Philip's good English and innate gracefulness, taste and originality enabled him to sing songs known and loved by all and sundry in his own way.
Soon Philip recorded his song "I'm Raising My Glass", that became a superhit in Russia and devoded it to Alla as many-many other his hits.
A tragic loss befell him that year - on April 30 his dearly-loved mother died. That was a real tragedy for the young singer and the woman he loved helped him to overcome the grief and depression.
1995. Philip received two more gold figurines of the "Ovatsiya" Prize "For the Best Programme" and as "The Best Singer" and recorded on video three hits - "Birdie", "What a Summer" and "Darling". Then he left for the international "Eurovision" competition in Dublin to represent Russia.
In November 1994 Alla and Philip undertook a joint show project for the biggest American casino "Taj Mahal" in Atlantic City, and in May made a successful concert tour of Israel where they performed at big stadiums.
At the end of 1995 the "Polygram" firm issued a double CD called "Say 'Yes!' to the Sun", which immediately became a bestseller. Its issue coincided with the first night of the programme "The Best Favourites Only for You" at the Variety Theatre in November. Nine full-house concerts, nine unforgettable evenings which became the talk of the town.
The successful march of the programme "The Best Favourites Only for You" began. The show captivated the audiences with its sincerely, simplicity and beauty. The ballet company "Recital", the professional "Vocal Band" group and the musical group "Theodore" contributed to the success of the programme. In 1996 this show was updated, new songs were included in the programme, but the greatest hit - "My Bunny" stayed in it for a long time.
In 1996 Philip received "The Golden Statuette" at the "World Music Award" ceremony in Monte Carlo for the biggest circulation of the album "Say 'Yes!' to the Sun" and the most popular show "The Best Favourites Only for You" in Russia.
As the true Artist Philip Kirkorov decided to undertake a bold and unique venture - a world concert supertour. He intended to show his programme in America, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Much has been written about it. Comments were favourable or critical, but never indifferent.
Long before April 5, 1997, experts assessed the forthcoming performance of the young Russian singer in New York as unique for the entire Russian variety art. Time has passed when Russian pop-stars were happy at any opportunity to appear overseas and sing in Russian restaurants on Brighton Beach, at colleges and synagogues. Russian emigrants have changed, too. They became well-off and now wished to see and hear their favourite performers in better surroundings, such as the famous Madison Square Garden which played host to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Sting, Phil Collins, and others, and which was the venue of handing the prestigious "Grammy" Prize.
Philip Kirkorov beat all records of that hall seating 6,000. All tickets were sold out three weeks in advance.
Continuing his world supertour, Philip arrived in Israel in May, 1997. He gave seven concerts on the most prestigious stages in the country. Israeli show business did not know such success. Philip could give at least seven more performances, however, he made a point to the organizers of his tour: "Day for concert, day for rest". He stayed at a villa in Kesaria (a historic place mentioned in Mikhail Bulgakov's famous novel "The Master and Margarita"), together with Alla Pugacheva and their close friends.
In Israel his concerts took place in open-air auditoriums and in prestigious halls.
Technically, Kirkorov's concerts differed greatly from the concerts of many Russian pop stars who played only on the nostalgic strings of Russian emigre audiences. Philip's shows were of the highest world class - 240 pieces of lighting equipment and sound capacity of 60 kw - something even Western stars can only dream about.
Even before his performance in Madison Square Garden he was not so agitated as on June 15, 1997, before his solo concert at "Friedrichstadtpalast" in Berlin, although it seats only 1,899, and Madonna, Jackson, Sting and Collins did not appear there. The point is that back in 1987 Kirkorov sang on that stage. The Leningrad Music Hall programme included four songs sung by the lanky full-throated "little camel", as he was called by Alla Pugacheva. Apart from that, Philip was also the MC, making announcements in German, which he did not know. It was then that he decided to come back on to the "Palast" stage as a full-fledged variety star. Before leaving Philip threw a coin into the nearby canal.
Indeed, in less than ten years he returned to Berlin. True, it was not easy to fulfill that project was. Berlin impresarios were not too enthusiastic about the whole thing; they did not have much faith in the "Kremlin stars". Talks continued for quite some time. Kirkorov was offered any hall in Germany, but he was adamant: either "Friedrichstadtpalast" or nothing. He was ready to pay a huge sum for hiring the hall, technical backing and transport (Thank Goodness, "Aeroflot" sponsored the project and paid airfare for the Kirkorov team of 80).
At last, the long-awaited concert took place. Philip was on top of his abilities and radiated energy and joy to the hall filled to capacity. The spectators were thrilled to hear old-time favourites performed by Philip and the Presidential Orchestra of Russia under the baton of Pavel Ovsyannikov.
On January 5, 1998, continuing his world tour with "The Best Favourites Only for You", Philip landed in Thailand to give a solo concert at the five-star hotel "Royal Cliff Beach Resort" near Pataya. Kirkorov brought to Thailand all his team: the orchestra and ballet, his father Bedros, light and sound engineers, two bodyguards, his chef, and the director of the company, Oleg Nepomnyashchy, who turned 59 during the flight. At his birthday party aboard the plane he told his companions about his plans to arrange a show on his 60-year jubilee with the stars he worked with: Alla Pugacheva, Sophia Rotaru, Philip Kirkorov and Vladimir Presnyakov. The film team "Disc Canal", the TV-6 channel and TV producer Roman Rodin could also take part.
The unique lighting and sound equipment used by Michael Jackson was brought to "Royal Cliff Beach Hotel" from Bangkok (Incidentally, Philip Kirkorov, with a tint of irony, calls himself the Russian M.J. and used his mask for the video clip "Medical Nurse" to be issued soon).
Of course, far from everybody could afford to buy tickets for the show costing 100 - 170 dollars each (the concert was proceeded by a barbecue supper), but, apart from our fellow-countrymen, there were Germans, Finns, Japanese and Thais among the spectators. The balconies of "Royal Cliff Beach Hotel" were full of people anxious to see the Russian superstar singer. In all, the audience numbered about 3,000.
The concluding concerts of the world tour "The Best Favourites Only for You" took place in St.Petersburg (from February 20 until March 1, 1998, at the "Oktyabrsky" Hall seating 4,000) and in Moscow on March 6 - 9 in the "Olympiisky" Sports Complex seating 17,000. They convincingly showed "who's who" on the Russian variety stage. Philip Kirkorov was now way ahead of all Russian stars. The stage scenery, audio and lighting equipment, pyrotechnic effects, costumes, stunts and artistic direction, and advertising campaign cost more than a million dollars. Kirkorov's team numbered more than 100 people. The Russian TV produced a full three-hour programme of his performances in Moscow and showed it on May 1 in prime time. According to estimates, it drew a 50-million audience, and in June it was awarded Grand Prix at the European festival of TV programmes, "The Golden Antenna", in Bulgaria.
After the tour Kirkorov gave five concerts in the United States. He appeared three times at the Grand Theater of Hilton Hotel in Atlantic City. On March 20 and 21 Philip Kirkorov, the first of Russian variety stars, performed, with the "sold out" notice, at the Jubilee Theater of the "Ballys" Hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
From August 30 until September 3 Kirkorov took part in the International "Golden Orpheus" song festival in Bulgaria. He gave solo recitals in the festival programme. In previous years solo recitals at this festival were given by Julio Iglesias, Paul Rogers, "Supermax", "Eruption", Demis Russos, "2 Unlimited", "Matia Bazaar", Gianni Morandi, Tony Christie, and others. Philip's recital turned to be a real show, which began at 22.30 and ended at 1.30 a.m. At the concluding festival concert Kirkorov was awarded the Golden Orpheus statuette, like the one given to the winner of the competition. He received the award for his contribution to festivals and popularization of Bulgarian songs the world over.
Despite the economic and financial crisis in Russia, which began in August 1998, Kirkorov decided not to cancel or postpone the unique series of concerts in the "Oktyabrsky" Hall in St.Petersburg from October 30 until November 30. For a whole month Philip gave a concert every night, the tickets costing not so much, which made his shows within the reach of broad audiences.
Philip Kirkorov - is a major star, an artist who has been honored as a Singer of the Year on numerous occasions by many award shows and publications. He has been nominated for an "Ovation" (Russian version of the Grammy) seven times. He has received two World Music Awards as a Best Selling Russian Artist of 1996 and 1999. He is the first Russian singer to be given a FAMA award for his contribution to the Latin music and culture. He is also in the Guinness Book of World records for the most sold out shows performed in a row at the same venue (a 32 concert marathon), which was written up in Billboard magazine.
Philip Kirkorov is not only one of the most popular performers, but also a brilliant creative personality, that combines the talents of a singer, a dancer, a choreographer, a director and a producer. Most of the dance numbers in his concerts are choreographed by Philip himself, and the programs and special events produced by him have been recognized by many awards in Russia as well as abroad.
"A Surprise for Alla" produced by Philip was chosen as the best program/show of 1997, while his own special concert "The Best, The Favorite and Only For You" garnered the same honors for 1998. The television version of the show received a Grand Prix at the International Festival of Entertainment Programming "The Gold Antenna".
Philip Kirkorov can truly be called a man of the world. He has phenomenally successful tours abroad, where everyone knows and loves him. The fans of the Russian popular music make sure that his shows are always sold out. In his music he doesn't stop with only performing songs written by the Russian authors. His repertoire includes songs from different parts of the world, including English and Spanish. He created a sensation by bringing the hot flavor of the mysterious Turkey and the Middle East to Russia with his Turkish album "Oh, Mama, Shika Dam!" which became the most popular album of the year. As a result he was honored by the government of Turkey for his contribution to the development of cultural ties between Russia and Turkey.
"The Sensation from Russia" as Philip is known, is the first Russian singer that has performed sold out shows at the most prestigious venues in the world such as Fridrichschdaten Palace in Berlin, Madison Square Garden in New York, Trump Taj Mahal and The Grand Hilton in Atlantic City, Ballys and MGM Grand in Las Vegas as well as many others.
He was the only Russian performer to be invited by Michael Jackson to participate along with superstars such as Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Mariah Carey, Boyz to Men and many others in the international charity concerts ""Michael Jackson & Friends". The concerts were held in June of 1999 at the Olympic stadiums in Seoul, Korea and Munich, Germany in the aid of UNESCO, the Red Cross and Nelson Mandela Children's fund to benefit the children of the world, and raised millions of desperately needed dollars for children in Kosovo and all over the world.
In November of 1999 Philip brought his new program "Diva" to the anxiously awaiting audiences in America and Canada. As usual, it was an astounding success.
His newest international project is the soon to be released album in Spanish "Sueno de Amor", the first ever Spanish language album recorded by a Russian singer. He debuted the first single on the album at the FAMA Awards held in New York's Lincoln Center on January 9, 2000. He was an instant sensation with the spanish-speaking audience, a new phenomenon in Latin music. The FAMA Awards honored him with a title "The Tsar of Song" and a special award for his "contribution in promoting Latin culture and music in Russia and former Soviet Republics". The performance at the FAMA Awards prompted Don Francisco, the host of the number one show on Spanish television "Sabado Gigante", to invite Philip to appear on his show. On March 18-th, 2000 Philip Kirkorov made his first official debut in Spanish on "Sabado Gigante" and hasn't stopped since.
In April of 2000, Philip together with Alla Pugacheva and composer Sergey Chelobanov released a new album "CheloPhilia", which once again created a sensation in the world of Russian popular music.
Pavel Lisistian, famed bass-baritone in Russia, is the last living Russian singer who performed with Ivan Jadan at the Bolshoi Theater. This letter from Lisistian, written in 1995 after he learned of Ivan's death, came to me in July, 1997, delivered in person by Pavel's son, Gerasim, now living in New York. How did he know about me? The entire Lisistian family have long been friends of Ivan's son, Vladik, and Vladik's wife, Jannetta, all of whom live in Moscow. One daughter in the Lisistian family is herself a decorated singer.
The famous father, not well know in the U.S., was born in Armenia in 1911. Here is what this great artist wanted me to know about his experiences with Ivan Jadan. The translation below I made, with assistance from Gerasim, who helped us greatly by using his Russian-English computer dictionary. What I translated was further reviewed by Russian pianist, Luba Schmulovich, who visited me recently here on St. John, as a guest of the Ivan Jadan Museum.
Pavel Lisistian writes:
"In 1993 I came to Sochi Philharmonic Society for first time, a place where concerts were performed. There I saw a notice in the Caucasian Riviera section of Sochi, which advertised a concert by Ivan Jadan. (Sochi is a resort town on the Black Sea.)
"As a person interested in concerts by popular salon and operatic performers, I was eager to purchase a ticket for this Jadan concert. I myself was, at the time, a soloist with the Youth Opera Theater in Leningrad where I sang minor roles.
"When I first heard Jadan sing, I was astounded. I heard the freedom, the fluidity of his singing and the incredible beauty of his voice.
"Up to now (1995, when this testimony was written), I remember the way he sang Werther, especially that final note. It seemed as though Jadan's last note had escaped from the concert hall, yet was still there, dissolving in air.
"That is the way Jadan?s voice is still here with us today," Gerasim told me in July, 1997, as he helped me to translate his father's vivid description of the way Ivan Jadan sings. The aria noted here is from Masenet's opera, Sorrows of the Young Werther, based on Goethe's great poem. The aria is included on Jadan's CD recording. St. John friends can come up anytime to hear what Lisistian is talking about! He continues his letter by writing, "The aria of Ashug (ahSHOOG) from the opera Almast he sang with God-given race. (I have photos of Ivan as Ashug included in the History of the Bolshoi Theater.) "After the concert, Jadan agreed to hear me sing, and he encouraged me to continue my career."
"In 1939, there was great success in the Soviet Union in celebration of Armenian culture," (Lisistian, like Vladik's wife, Jannetta, is Armenian) and in 1939, I started my career at the Bolshoi Theater as soloist. The first opera in which I sang was Eugen Onegin, singing the part of Onegin." (Eugen Onegin, by Tschaikowsky, is based on Pushkin's great narrative poem).
"My first Lenski (Lenski is the tenor role in this opera) was Jadan, the man I had heard at Sochi, the same man who had entranced me at Sochi in 1933. He was a superb operatic partner, a magical human being." (Lisistian here uses the word Chood-nee, a favorite word of Ivan's that he used to describe the magical beauty of nature on St. John.)
Lisistian concludes his moving account of Ivan Jadan by writing, "Everyone loved him very much. After the performance he praised me and that was a prize!"
From Vladik, his father's archivist for over 30 years, I have the excellent photos you see here of Pavel Lisistian as Eugen Onegin and Ivan Jadan as Lenski, now on display at the Ivan Jadan Museum, where you can hear on Ivan's CD how he sings Lenski's famous aria from Eugen Onegin, as well as Werther's aria.
Rosenbaum, Alexander Yakovleivich. Born on 13 September, 1950 in Leningrad. Graduated from the Pavlov First Leningrad Medical School in 1974. For four years worked as an emergency vehicle doctor. In 1980 he began his musical career. Rosenbaum played with various groups, from 1983 he has made solo performances. Rosenbaum is also the director at the theater-studio "The Alexander Rosenbaum Studio of Fine Arts". He finished a piano course in musical school and a choreography course at a musical institute. Rosenbaum began writing songs in 1968 during his years at the institue. These songs were mostly written for student plays, vocal-instrumental ensembles and rock groups; some of the songs were released on disks and albums. For a period of time, Rosenbaum had performed under the pseudonym of Ayarov.
V. S. Visotskiy
Without doubt, the most famous Russian bard was born in Moscow in 1938.
Visotsky graduated from the school of acting at the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1960. From 1964 he worked at the Moscow Theater of Drama and Comedy on Taganka. He wrote his first song in 1960 and would ultimately have a significant influence on an entire genre of music.
His gruff voice and starkly, sometimes slyly, poetic lyrics have inspired two generations of Russians and are working their way into the young hearts of a third. The end of his life was also occupied by his second wife, Marina Vladi, a popular French actress of Russian descent. He died in 1980 from a heart attack, the death knell of a creative life lived too fast. The Soviet government, always aiming to please, erected a monument to him in Moscow, apparently contrary to his wishes. Whether the government did it well or clumsily, the point was made by an entire society as it mourned the death of their Shakespeare-with-a-guitar
During his study in the Nemerovich-Danchenko acting school-studio at MHAT Visotsky wrote just a few songs. His main passion were short stories featuring Seryozha - employee of the Central Boiler House, Vasyochek (Visotsky's nickname) and others. However as many other students Vladimir sang quite often, mainly "street songs" and thieve's cant that he learned in the Lev Kocharyan company on Big Karetny.
Fortunately several songs from the early Visotsky's repertoire were recorded on tape and now you can hear some of them.
I sang everywhere. I performed in people's homes, at night, with vodka or without, I sang in airfield - at the same time as combat aircrafts were landing - among black-dressed beatle-like technicians, we just went away so that the words would be heard. I perfomed in buses, in gigantic stadiums, and in the smallest places. In other countires, in some house, in some little room - and the French didn't understand: why is he so nervous and why is he yelling so much? Even after I translated the songs for them, they were still in a quandry, because for them singing is a genre that shouldn't touch on any problematic topics.
It is the only country - Russia, where poetry is, not just on a high level (that is understood) - but poetry is great, the greatest, the best. I think this is the case - not because our poets were only the greatest verse-writers, and wrote wonderful poetry, - but because they lived and behaved themselves with dignity - in relation to the authorities, their friends, each other and, of course their art. Due to this our poetry was always superior to the literature, although our literature is also great, the best in the world.
Even now if you hang somewhere a notebook sheet announcing concert of Evtushenko, Voznesensky, Akhmadulina or Okudjava - a huge stadium will be packed at once and tickets will be sold out in two days. Why it is so? Simply because people not only long for poetry, but for those poets who make it beautiful.