Sergej Vitalyevich Volgin

29 May 1876 Jaroslavl – 12 August 1927 Moscow

Scribe, Khovanshchina

His real name was Sobinov, and he was the brother of Leonid Sobinov.

Volgin started to study singing at the Moscow Musical Drama School in 1897. He finished in 1903 and made his debut as Lenskij at the Moscow Private Opera (the former Mamontov Opera).

He sang almost exclusively comprimario roles, and he appeared in Kharkiv (1910), Moscow (Zimin Opera, from 1912; Aquarium Musical Drama Theatre, 1916) and at the New Summer Stage in St. Petersburg (1917). After that, he was a member of the Mariinskij Theater.

His repertory included: Anafasij Ivanovich (Sorochinskaja jarmarka, 1917), Lysov (Orlinyj bunt by Pashchenko, 1925), Puzanov (Za krasnyj Petrograd by Gladovskij and Prussak, 1925 – the first Soviet opera), Jakovlev (Stenka Razin by Bershadskij, 1926), Astrologer (Petersburg, 1909; Kharkiv, 1910), Ivan Mikhajlovich Jat (Svadba/The wedding by Ehrenberg, 1917), Blokhin (Dni nashej zhizni/The days of our life by Glukhovtsev, 1913), Ivan Ignatyevich Zharkov (Kapitanskaja dochka/The captain's daughter by Cui, 1914), Nick (La fanciulla del West, 1913), Kupfer (Klara Milich by Kastalskij), Faust, Vakhrameevna (Askoldova mogila/Askold's grave), Scribe (Khovanshchina), Lenskij, Duca, Bardolfo (Falstaff), Spoletta, Third Jew (Salome), Sopel (Sadko).

In 1904, he took part in concerts of the Circle of Russian Music Lovers, where he sang romances by Glinka, Balakirev, Rimskij-Korsakov and S. Vasilenko.

He recorded for Gramophone in Moscow (1910, 1912, 1913).

Reference: Arkadij M. Pruzhanskij, Otechestvennye pevtsy 1750–1917, vol. 2, Moscow 2000

Sergej Volgin, who was Sobinov's brother, sang the Astrologer. As he told me himself, he took his name from where he was born in Jaroslavl on the banks of the Volga, from a desire not to shine in his famous brother's reflected glory or to embarrass him by his own singing. His voice was nothing special, although it was a bit like his brother's in timbre.

His musicality was average as well, but he had excellent enunciation and that helped him to acquit himself honorably in this exceptionally difficult role, obviously intended for a counter-tenor or someone with great vocal skills. Volgin carefully produced sounds rather than words. He played the part with intelligence and was rewarded with success.
Sergej Levik: An opera singer's notes

Sergej Volgin singsRigoletto: Serdtse krasavits
In RA format
Source for the recording: Yuri Bernikov's fantastic website Russian Records.

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