In April marks 78 years since the death of Feodor Chaliapin. Artistic Director of Center of Russian culture and art, people’s artist of Russia Vladimir Devyatov has shared with the readers of “MK” the most interesting facts from his life.
— I headed the Russian cultural Center recently conducted a survey, young people were asked one question: do they know who Fedor Shalyapin? And despite the fact that over 75 years after his death in Paris on April 12, 1938, the majority of respondents know about the great Russian bass. His genius permeated the mentality of inhabitants of Russia. The world has known many great artists of the scene, but often they are either reliving their glory, or die with them.
— Who taught him singing?
Feodor Chaliapin was born in Kazan on February 13, 1873 in the family of peasants of Vyatka province Ivan Shalyapin. He spent his childhood in the slums. In his youth he undertook any work. His parents were not musically gifted, but the Lord God has directed that this kind appeared a genius. At an early age, without an education, he began to earn a living by singing. As a singer he was actually self-taught. The skill of the great artist was formed thanks to private lessons from a former artist of the Imperial theatres Usatova, perseverance, incredible musicality and artistry. The voice of Feodor Chaliapin had made an indelible impression on audiences with his artistry and unique style. He was in demand and very well paid. Fedor Ivanovich was a soloist at many theaters. Worked in Mariinsky Theatre, Russian Opera of Savva Mamontov, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, in Japan, etc.
— What was the relationship with the government?
— Many people think that Feodor Chaliapin was the anti-adviser. At first he warmly welcomed the revolution of 1917. And he was awarded the title of the first national artist of the Soviet Republic, but then he was deprived of it. Soviet press criticized him once in 1922 Fedor have left to live abroad. You know his motto: “Free only birds singing in the woods.” One of the reasons why the actors decided to leave their homeland, was financial. The need to maintain at a good level their two families and nine children were forced to work a lot, and the fees foreign theaters were far from domestic. To illustrate this point can be the well-known painting Kustodiev, which depicts Chaliapin in a fur coat, which he paid for the concert in Russia. The second reason moving abroad Chaliapin associated with the beginning of repressions in Russia. Chaliapin said that they will not tolerate the infringement of their freedom. His house was frequently attacked by night searches, looking for diamonds and gold. Confiscated silver spoons and forks, were confiscated bottle of French wine. Denial of freedom led to the fact that he decided not to return to Russia after the regular tour. The Bolsheviks understood that finding Chaliapin abroad, his speeches to the emigration — is a blow to the prestige of the country. And feared that Chaliapin can be used in anti-Soviet purposes. But the singer never considered his work as a policy item. Many, and Gorky, Stanislavsky, and Stalin himself, offered him to move back to Russia, promised perfect conditions. But Fedor was always negative. There is a version that in Harbin, while on tour in China, he received an injection of some substance that triggered his severe illness and early death at the age of 65 years. He was sick with leukemia. Experts believe the disease could be imported from outside. Later it became known that the doctor who treated Chaliapin in Harbin, was awarded the order. The decree in this case was the wording “for a relentless struggle against the counterrevolution”. Chaliapin was buried on the Volga, however, was buried in Paris. In 1984, the singer remains were reburied in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery.
— Chaliapin was not easy in the family…
— The first wife of Feodor Chaliapin — ballerina Iola tornagi. He met her in Russia, where she arrived on the invitation of Savva Mamontov. In the family of Fyodor Ivanovich and Iola tornagi was born six children. By 1910, the family relationship began to crumble. Chaliapin met in Moscow with the widow and owner of Breweries Maria Petzold. When Chaliapin was the other woman, he began to live in two houses. Mary Petzold from his first marriage had two children. Children at Chaliapin and Maria had three. Thus, Fyodor Chaliapin had nine children. He tried to create equal conditions. Someone became an artist (Feodor Chaliapin) who is an artist (Boris Chaliapin), but none of his children didn’t reach his genius.