Nikolaj Chesnokov


Born on the 3rd (16th) of October 1898, in the village of Brodovskaja, in the Vologda region. He was the smallest, sixth child in the family. He sang in the church choir.

In 1917, he was drafted to the army where he served as a clerk. In May 1918, he was released from the army. Started working as an accountant in a shipping company, where he would also participate in the hobby music club of the company's workers.

In 1921 through the advice of the acclaimed bass Sharonov, he enrolled to the St. Petersburg conservatory, where he received great schooling from Ioakim Tartakov, Nikolaj Bolshakov, Josif Suprunenko, Josif Tomars, Ivan Ershov and others.

He already started appearing as an artist while studying at the conservatory. From 1926, he was a guest artist at the Mariinskij Opera Theater. Alongside with his opera career, he worked as a concert singer with the Leningrad Region Philharmonic, the LenGodEstrada and the Muzfond. In August 1928, he was a part of the delegation of the opera studio of the St. Petersburg conservatory to the Salzburg festival in Austria, where he sang the part of Pancracio in "Die Höhle von Salamanca" (by Bernhard Paumgartner), for which he was praised in the Austrian press.

Graduated in 1931 from St. Petersburg conservatory where he had studied in two faculties: opera and chamber music. Started performing at the Malij Theater in St. Petersburg the same year.

He had a very distinctive manner of singing, great dramatic skills, and would perform brilliantly in character roles (e.g. Triquet, Spoletta, Simpleton, Bomelij, Vašek, Goro, Chekalinskij). During his career at the Malij Theater from 1931 to 1958, he performed more than 80 opera and operetta roles.

In 1943, he was sent to perform in concerts for the troops of the Stalingrad, Voronezh, Volga, and Leningrad fronts. 1941–1944, he was in evacuation with the Malij Theater in Chkalov (Orenburg).

1944–1948, he worked both at the Malij and the Kirov Theater.

Starting from 1940, he appeared on Soviet television. In 1944, he received an invitation from the Soviet Cinema Direction to appear alongside some singers of the Bolshoj – Grigorij Bolshakov, Lilija Gritsenko, Maksim Mikhajlov and others – in the first Soviet movie-opera "Cherevichki" (director Nadezhda Koshaverova), where he successfully performed the role of the Schoolmaster. For 30 years, he sang on the radio (Department of Musical and Children Programs), where he performed more than 950 different compositions. From 1939 to 1954, he made several records for different studios.

In 1958, he started teaching at the Ostrovskij Leningrad Theater Institute, still from time to time appearing on the stage of the Malij Theater. He died after a prolonged illness on the 11th of June 1962 in Leningrad.

Nikolaj Chesnokov singsCherevichki: Baba k besu privjazalas

Nikolaj Chesnokov singsJa pomnju valsa zvuk prelestnyi (Listov)

Nikolaj Chesnokov singsGde tvoe lichiko smugloe (Shurovskij)

Igor Milner has provided the recordings, the picture and the biography: thank you!

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