Personalities | Osip Petrov | High Romantic | Opera
Osip Petrov, a Russian bass with a rich, dark voice and strong dramatic instincts, made his debut in 1826 and sang regularly at St Petersburg from 1830 until his death. He soon established himself as the first great Russian bass. His arrival on the Russian opera scene was fortuitous. Nationalist composers sought him out to create important bass parts in their operas, and he performed this function at St Petersburg for almost a half century. Petrov took the parts of Ivan Susanin in Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, Ruslan in the same composer’s Ruslan i Lyudmila, Leporello in Dargomïzhsky’s The Stone Guest, Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Maid of Pskov and Varlaam, the vagabond friar, in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Mussorgsky called Petrov his ‘Grandpa’ and at his funeral in 1878 mourned the ‘irreplaceable instructor … who inspired me to creativity’.
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