Feodor Chaliapin

Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (Russian Фёдор Иванович Шаляпин, scientific transliteration Fedor Ivanovich Šaljapin; * 1 Februarjul / February 13 1873greg in Kazan, Russia, .. † April 12, 1938 in Paris) was a Russian opera singer in the bass voice.

Life and work

The son of a poor farmer had no regulated training and little musical exercise. First song attempts he made in the church choir. In 1894 he debuted in Tbilisi as high priest in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, then moved to the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. In 1896, he joined a private Moscow opera stage, in which he appeared as Boris Godunov and Ivan the Terrible.

1901 Chaliapin went to Western Europe. He first sang at La Scala in Milan and from 1907 at the New York Metropolitan Opera. He was there, however, not very appreciated and therefore moved in 1908 to the Paris Opera. An appearance in New York in 1921 to great success. This time he stayed in the city and sang six seasons long. 1926 oblige him the London Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Since 1921, Chaliapin no longer occurred in the Soviet Union because he did not agree with their policies. However, he stressed that he had not been anti -Soviet.

In addition to his Russian repertoire, he distinguished himself as Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust, Don Basilio, Leporello and King Philip. Chaliapin was by hulking figure and sang a dark-colored powerful bass. He was one of the first singer who put value on a deeper psychological understanding of his characters in the opera spectacle. Impressed on his singing, especially the dramatic intensity of his lecture, which was probably later achieved only by Maria Callas and a few others.

In 1910 he took over in Monte Carlo the lead role in the première of Don Quichotte by Jules Massenet. He has 1932/33, also included a movie with this title, by the director Georg Wilhelm Pabst; Don Quixote was filmed in German, French and English, always with Chaliapin in the title role - as films could be technically synchronized only in the late 1930s, a common practice at that time. The German version of the film is considered lost.

Chaliapin was married to the Italian ballerina Iola Tornaghi since 1898 and had six children. His youngest son, Fyodor Fyodorovich Chaliapin made ​​a career as an actor.

Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was initially buried in Paris; In 1984 his remains were transferred to the Moscow Novodevichy Cemetery.


Chaliapin is considered the most famous bass player of the first half of the 20th century. Since 2000, each year there is a Chaliapin singing opera festival in Crimea, Ukraine.

Maxim Gorky, who was friends with Chaliapin, wrote unusually enthusiastic about him: " This man is a genius to say the least. There is something monstrous that makes subdue with a terrifying, diabolical force the crowd ... Even when he sang throughout the evening nothing but, Lord, have mercy! '... He means to sing these words, that they of the Lord, if it exists, is necessarily hear immediately and instantly each and any mercy or the earth turned into dust and ashes. "

Chaliapin was even immortalized on a modern Russian coin ( silver ).


  • Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin: Pages from My Life. Harper and Brothers, 1927
  • Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin: Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer. Alfred A. Knopf, 1933
  • Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin: An Autobiography as Told to Maxim Gorky. Macdonald, 1968