Grigorij Filippovich Bolshakov

Born on the 23rd of January (5th of February), 1904 in St. Petersburg into a large family of a factory workers. His father liked to sing, and all of Bolshakov's five brothers and sisters had good voices. Bolshakov started singing when he was very young – his family had a gramophone, and having a very good musical ear, he studied a few songs and sang them to his friends. His friends told him he should start studying voice. At some point Bolshakov decided to enroll to the musical school in Vyborg, where he studied with A. Grokholskij, who recommended him to Richard F. Nuvel-Nordi, who had studied in Italy and was a very good voice teacher. Nuvel-Nordi liked Bolshakov so much that he had not only refused to take any tuition fee from him, but would many times give him money, as his young pupil still did not have a job.

The lessons of Nuvel-Nordi gave Bolshakov very important basic skills of using and controlling his voice, a great schooling that remained with him for the rest of his career. With these skills, he decided to go to the Mikhailovskij Theater (the Malij Opera Theater) for trials. There he sang before such famous theater personas as S. Samosud and N. Smolich. According to Bolshakov himself, they said to him: "You are still too young for solo singing, but we would give you the advice to join our chorus. You will have to work on your voice for about two more years." Bolshakov took that advice and joined the theater's chorus. He saw that as an opportunity to "get his foot in the door" of the theater.

After singing in the chorus for more than a year, Bolshakov decides to further his musical studies and enrolls to Leningrad Musical College, where he studies in the class of professor I. Suprunenko, who further developed the young singer's vocal skills, and left him with long-standing gratitude to his teacher.

Parallel to his studies at the Musical College, Bolshakov works at the railroad to be able to support himself.

In 1928, after graduating from the Musical College, Bolshakov starts working as a soloist at the Leningrad Comic Opera, where his first role is Fenton in "Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor" by Otto Nicolai. On that first role, Bolshakov worked with the conductor A. M. Pazovskij, who coached the new soloist.

In 1930, Bolshakov is accepted, after trials, to the opera troupe of the Kirov Theater in Leningrad. There he sings the roles of Lenskij, José, Andrej Khovanskij, Sinodal, Arnold, Prince ("L'amour des trois oranges"), and other leading roles. He worked there for six years, gaining precious experience. But according to his own words, Bolshakov wasn't satisfied with that. Many years later, he said: "Back then, I was so impatient to sing in all the roles I wanted that I asked myself for a transfer to a more provincial theater."

In the theater of Saratov, where he would sing in 1937/38, his dreams came true. He sang in the roles of German, Radames, Almaviva, Duca, etc.

But Bolshakov had even bigger dreams. In 1938, he went for trials to the Bolshoj and was accepted. His debut there was in the newly-staged opera by Dzerzhinskij "Podnjataja tselina" (Virgin soil upturned) in the role of Davydov. He did great, and only after a month he was already singing Duca in "Rigoletto". Very soon, he started to appear in many leading roles – roles that "belonged" to such stars as Kozlovskyj and Lemeshev. He added to his repertory.

Bolshakov would stay at the Bolshoj until 1958 and sing, among others, German, Faust, Radames, Vodemon, Vakula, Andrej ("Mazepa"), Levko, Gvidon, Sobinin. After each staging, the crowd was extremely excited with the singing and acting of Bolshakov. The great singer Irina Maslennikova recollects: "He was an extremely good looking young man with enormous personal charm. His eyes were on fire. His voice was bright, sunny, enchanting. When he walked on stage, he was always the hero."

Bolshakov died on the 3rd of February, 1974 in Moscow. Discography

  • Vakula in Cherevichki
  • Andrej Khovanskij in Khovanshchina, 1959, with M. Rejzen

  • Vodemon in the first complete recording of Iolanta, 1940, under S. A. Samosud and with Zhukovskaja, P. Nortsov, B. Bugaev, ...
  • Andrej Khovanskij, in the second complete recording of Khovanshchina, 1951, under V. V. Nebolsin and with M. Rejzen, N. Khanaev, ...
  • Recital on Melodia M 10 – 41991-92: Scene Marfa and Andrej Khovanskij (fragment from the complete Khovanshchina recording), German's arioso and aria, Vakula's arioso and song, Levko's song, Levko's recitative and song, Miller and Prince scene from Rusalka (with A. Pirogov and N. Chubenko).
  • Grigorij Bolshakov singsTosca: E lucevan le stelle, in Russian
    In RA format

    Grigorij Bolshakov singsKhovanshchina: A ty zdes, zlodejka!, with Marija Maksakova
    In RA format

    Grigorij Bolshakov singsIolanta: Chudnij dar prirody vechnoj
    In RA format
    I wish to thank Igor Milner for the biography.
    Additional reference for biography and discography.
    I wish to thank Vera Lyakhova for her help.
    I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Iolanta).

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