Isaj Grigoryevich Dvorishchin

1876 Druja – 1942 Leningrad

Picture of Isaï Grigoryevich Dvorishchin

Dvorishchin (stage name Isaj Petrov) was born in 1876 in Druja, region of Vilensk (other sources stated Voronezh as his place of birth).

He was an opera singer, producer and singing teacher.

He was born in a tailor family. From age 13, he sang in a boy's choir; then he went to the opera in Voronezh (hired by Kosarev) where he also worked as a prop man.

In 1893, Dvorishchin sang in a choir and took singing lessons with L. Sobinov and I.Tomars. Between 1893 and 1896, he was a chorister at the Kazan opera, then a soloist at the Samarkand opera, and 1896/97 at the Tiflis opera.

Later, Dvorishchin was a chorister, soloist and stage director at the opera houses in Odessa (1899), Rostov, Petersburg (1904–07, at the new summer theater "Olimpia", 1907–18 People's House), Moscow, Kharkiv (1905), and Kiev (1905/06).

Dvorishchin had no great vocal gifts, however he had a clear theatrical talent, and was thus a remarkable character tenor; his most successful role was Misail.

After 1917, Dvorishchin followed the call of Vsevolod Meyerhold (9 February [28 January] 1874 – 2 February 1940, purged by Stalin), and became stage director, stage manager and choirmaster at the Kirov Theater in Leningrad. Thanks to him, the Soviet premiere of Der Rosenkavalier took place.

He was of course far more important as a stage director than as a singer, but his real significance lies in his close personal friendship with Fjodor Shaljapin, and in the fact that he was Shaljapin's favorite stage director as long as Shaljapin was in Russia (i.e. until 1922). He is even called Shaljapin's secretary, although I fail to understand whether he ever formally held that post, or whether it's rather an attempt to describe how close he and Shaljapin were. Anyway, he continued to live in Shaljapin's Leningrad apartment after the great basso had emigrated, and kept a great number of the personal belongings that Shaljapin had left behind. In 1927, Shaljapin was officially accused of siding with the Tsarists, and banned from ever returning to the Soviet Union; his apartment was socialized and given to numerous new inhabitants, but one of them was still Dvorishchin. During the terrible Nazi blockade of Leningrad, all the dwellers of the apartment were evacuated from the city, including Dvorishchin's family; but he stayed, obviously because he wanted to protect Shaljapin's inheritance. He succeeded, although it cost his life: he starved to death in winter 1942, but his invaluable Shaljapin collection was saved by the Leningrad Theater Museum. It later returned to his and Shaljapin's former apartment, which is now the Shaljapin House Museum.

Dvorishchin published an autobiography in 1939.

Al. L. Less Stories on Shaljapin, Moskva 1973, p. 113–116, 147–149
N.K. Cherkasov Souvenir of a Soviet actor, M. 1953, P. 15, 23
L. Olgina The treasure of Graftio street, Molodaja gvardia, 1964/Nr. 7, S. 144–147
A. M. Pruzhanskij Otechestvennye pevtsy, 1750–1917, part 1, Moscow 1991

I wish to thank Ildikó Végh for her help in preparing this material.

Go Home