Personalities | Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin | Turn of the Century | Opera

1873–1938, Russian

Almost entirely self-taught as a singer, Chaliapin began singing in Tbilisi and St Petersburg. He made a name for himself singing both Boris and Valaam from Modest Mussorgsky’s (1839–81) Boris Godunov (1874). Although best known for singing the Russian repertoire, Chaliapin performed in a wide range of operas, including those by Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) and Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35). He possessed a flexible voice that enabled him to take on baritone roles, such as Eugene Onegin, as well as true bass roles like Philip II in Giuseppe Verdi’s (1813–1901) Don Carlos (1867). Chaliapin was regarded as a great singing actor and constantly demanded perfection in small details of staging, make-up and costume.

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