> Fedor Shalyapin
The exhibition «Shalyapin — the Opera Czar» touches upon a most wonderful page
in the history of Russian musical theatre.
The art of Fyodor Shalyapin is inseparably ñînnected with «the silver ago
of Russian culture. The aspiration for poetry and beauty, the harmony of Word
and Music, the feast of colours, the profundity of feelings are reflected in
of Sergey Rachmaninov, the painting of Korovin, the ballets of Mikhail Fokin...
The of that epoch vividly manifests itself in the singer's creativity, Shalyapin
was named «a singing actor". His brilliant dramatic talent was combined
with an extraordinary musical gift. The voice of the singer, a powerful sanguineous
basso r-nanti -0 in the first place for the richness of intonations, semitones
and inflections; it a most complicated gamut of emotional Shalyapins reincarnations
ware not just outward (it is well known how important it was for Shalyapin to
arrange his plastic movements and jestures, make-up and costumes) but also deeply
inward. Scenic an opportunity to reveal his unique ó to lime, capability of
hearing and going, on of individual human beings and àë ïîä theatrical masks
but human Boris Asafev wrote about Shalyapins roles in by Modest Musorgsky and
Nikolay Rimsky Ê orsai ov
Shalyapin s summit was the part of Ivan the Terrible in the opera «Pskovuyanka»
by Rimsky-Kotsakov. The whole of tt was constructed by contrast The singer emphasized
the characters uncontrollabiUtv. fanaticism, sanctimony and at the same time,
the tragedy of a father who had lost his daughter. Korovin recollected: «Thcre
was no Shalyapin on the stage, it was Ivan the Terrible*. The poetry of Pushkin
inspired the artist to create a great number of operatic portraits such as Satieri,
Aleko, the Miller, Phatlaph and czar Boris. Boris Godunov in the Musorgsky s
opera of the same name was the acme of the artist's creativity, energetically
rendering the foredoom of a conscience-stricken man. Boris Godunov — Shalyapin
lived a whole life on the stage. Photographs show quite a few nuances in the
performance of the great artist, die changes in the appearance of the czar that
took place from scene to scene. Czar Boris, in the prime of his life and powerful,
turned into a decrepit and crazy old man in the fast scenes.
Shalyapin gave a performance on the stage of the Finnish National Opera-House
in November 1935. He brilliantly played two parts, Mephistopheles and Don Basilic
The portrait of Shalyapin on the role of Don Basilic painted by his son Boris
in the 30s opens the exhibition. The artist worked on the image of Mephistopheles
in Charle Gounod's opera «Faust» for many years. He did not consider him a refined
French cavalier as was typically accepted; the singer saw him as «the symbol
of earthy deeds and human passions*. An one Finland newspaper wrote about Shalyapins
performance in the scene with crosses in the following words: «The evil spirit
is trembling, his knees are shaking, the features are distorted, he nearly falls
The abundant material of the exhibition from the archives of the Museum of
Musical Culture and the Museum of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre show the creative
workshop of the singer: ancient photographs, theatrical sketches of sceneries
and costumes by Russian painters, operatic outfits of the singer. Shalyapin
created every role as a result of profound meditations àëî careful work closely
cooperating with painters, composers, producers and stage partners.
Shalyapin wrote: «The operatic theatre is a subtle and very comlicated art.
And I think the only theatre of Opera may be Such that really can and must unite
al five arts — Poetry, Painting, Music, Sculpture and Architecture.