Vasilij Petrovich Damaev
April 7 (19), 1878 Otradnaja (a Cossack village, now on the edge of Krasnodar) – October 11, 1932 Moscow
Damayev was born into a peasant family. He was a shepherd, studied violin and sang in the church choir
during his childhood.
From 1895, he lived in Majkop. There he was heard by the well-known music critic I. Gar. His voice made a strong impression on Gar.
With the support of the passionate singing amateur, he left for Moscow.
Starting in 1903 in Moscow, he took voice lessons with the
singer V. P. Kozlovoj (Kuznetsov and K. K. Ushkov, of the Gubkin company, paid for his lessons).
1904–05, he studied at the Moscow Musical and Drama school with M. Medvedev, and
continued with A. M. Uspenskij. He took part in charitable concerts, singing romances
and traditional Russian songs, while he sang again in a church choir.
In 1906, he was accepted by the Zimin Opera company in Moscow,
where his first operatic roles were studied with
the stage director P. S. Olenin and
the conductor E. A. Kuper (Cooper).
On August 31, 1908 he made his debut as Grigorij.
He stayed there until 1920.
1921–22, he sang at the Nash Theater, 1922–24
at the Aquarium (from 1926, he was the manager of the
company), and at the new Zimin.
1928–30, he was artistic director
and soloist of a Moscow-based touring opera company,
with which he went to Barnaul,
Arkhangelsk, Rjazan and Tule.
1931–32, Damaev worked at the Moscow theatre museum.
At the invitation of Serge Diaghilev,
who called him the Russian Tamagno, he appeared
at the Russian seasons in Paris and
London in 1909, 1911, 1913. He sang also in Monte Carlo (1913).
From 1906, he gave frequent
concerts with Russian romances and national songs in Russian cities such as Orel, Rjazan, Jaroslavl,
Smolensk, Kharkiv, Tambov, Saratov, ... 1908–09, he gave concerts in Sochi. In spring 1910, he went on a concert tour along the Volga together with Serge Koussevitzky
and Aleksandr Skrjabin. Every year, he arranged concerts of ancient Russian songs
in one the halls of the Bolshoj. After 1917,
he repeatedly sang before workers and Red Army soldiers.
His repertory of approximately 50 roles included:
Pedro, Ruvim (Ruf/Ruth by Ippolitov-Ivanov), Orestes
(Oresteja by Taneev),
Stolzing, Johnson, Tucha, Andrej Khovanskij,
Toropka Golovan (Askold's grave), Andrej Morozov
(Oprichnik), Sadko, Levko, Raoul, José, Otello,
Radames, Canio, Cavaradossi, Sobinin,
Grigorij, Gvidon, German, Akhior (Judif/Judith by A. Serov),
Samson, Jean de Leyden, Rodolfo.
His partners included:
P. Z. Andreev, M. V. Bocharov, M. I. Brian, M. Guj, A. I.
Dobrovolskaja, S. I. Druzjakina, K. D. Zaporozhets,
V. I. Kastorskij, L. Lipkovskaja, V. V. Ljutse, V. V. Osipov,
E. F. Petrenko, V. N. Petrov-Zvantseva, N. I. Speranskij,
V. N. Trubin, M. D. Turchaninova, F. I. Shaljapin, N. A.
Shevelev, F. F. Ernst.
Some of the conductors he worked with included:
M. Ippolitov-Ivanov, M. M. Cooper, E. A. Cooper, I. O.
Palitsyn, E. E. Plotnikov, Ju. M. Slavinskij, N. Cherepnin.
He recorded for
Gramophone, Pathé, Lirofon and Gramplasttrest.
His son Dmitri Vasilevich Damaev (1903–1988) was
also a tenor, a soloist at the Moscow operetta
theater, then at operetta company of the Moscow province.
His daughter Marina (1915–1982)
worked as a ballerina at the Bolshoj.
buried on Preobrazhenskij cemetery.
The tenors Damaev and Dygas had magnificent voices, the former with free top notes, the latter with a rich, almost baritonal middle range.
Damaev, having been a shepherd, didn't have much training and began with heavy roles quite early on. Being a slave to his own temperament,
he would sometimes fade out towards the second
half of a big opera: the timbre would lose its sheen, and the pitch would start playing tricks. It was a pity,
as with his natural gifts he could have become a great singer, but obviously it was beyond his powers not to force.
The Levik memoirs: An opera singer's notes.
| Vasilij Damaev sings||Boris Godunov: Dmitrij! Tsarevich!, with Sofja Druzjakina
|Sofja Druzjakina, née Menzel, May 17 (29), 1880 Kiev – October 3, 1953 Moscow
In RA format
In RA format
In RA format
I wish to thank Richard J. Venezia for the recording (Bohème).
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for his help.
Source for the Pagliacci recording: Russian Records.
Lirofon, Moskva 1910
Rss815 Dobrynja Nikitin (Grechaninov): Rastsvetali v pole tsvetiki 815
Rss816 Cherevichki (Chajkovskij): Slyshit li, devitsa, serdtse tvoe 816
Rss817 Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): O you dark oak grove 817
Rss818 Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): Chto nasha zhizn? 818
Rss819 Pezn v izganii (Ippolitov-Ivanov) 819
Rss820 Kak mne bolno (Rakhmaninov) 820
Rss955 Zashumela, razguljalas (Sokolov) 955
Gramophone, Moskva January/February 1910
1919c Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Walther's aria unpublished
1920c May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Sleep, my beauty 022142, HMB27
1922c May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Is she asleep? (w. Petrova-Zvantseva) 024038
1922½c May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Is she asleep? (w. Petrova-Zvantseva) unpublished
1923c Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): C'est toi, c'est toi, mon bien-aimé 024033, HMB162
1978c Aida (Verdi): Celeste Aida unpublished
14167b Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd 4-22063
14201b Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd 4-22063x
14202b Dobrynya Nikitich (Grechaninov): Flowers were blooming in the fields 4-22087, Muztrust 2165
14203b Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): O you dark oak-grove 4-22088, Muztrust 2166
Gramophone, Moskva February 1911
2177c Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Morgenlich leuchtend 022193
2178c Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): Ho, faithful friends 022194, HMB98
2178½c Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): Ho, faithful friends 022194x
2180c Aida (Verdi): Celeste Aida 022195
2181c Bohème (Puccini): Che gelida manina 022196
2182c Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): Forgive me, heavenly creature unpublished
15331½b Cherevichki (Chajkovskij): Does your heart hear, darling? 4-22247, HMA198
15333b Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): What is our life? 4-22248
15357b May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Boys, have you heard (w. chorus) 4-22249
15358b Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): The height of the sky (w. chorus) 4-22250
15359b Mazepa (Chajkovskij): Send me to the Tzar (w. chorus) 4-22246
Pathé, Moskva 1911
Cherevichki (Chajkovskij): Song of Vakula 27456
40528 Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): What is our life? 27457
Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): Forgive me, bright celestial vision 27460
43320 Neron (Rubinstein): Strophes 27461
Gramophone, Moskva October 1911
16111b Oprichnik (Chajkovskij): As before God, so before you 4-22284
16112b Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Ridi Pagliaccio unpublished
2507c Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Vesti la giubba 022228
Gramophone, Moskva November 1912
247af Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): As if I had a chest of gold 022298, HM98
248af Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Vesti la giubba 022325
249af Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): Chto nasha zhizn? 022300
250af Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): Your tresses shine like honey-hued dew 024073
251af Boris Godunov (Musorgskij): O tsarevich, umoljaju (w. Druzjakina) 024068
252af Aida (Verdi): Celeste Aida 022305
4033ae Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 4-22476, Muzpred422476
Gramophone, Moskva December 1913
2944c Fanciulla del West (Puccini): Ch'ella mi creda 022348
2945c Fanciulla del West (Puccini): Aria, act 2 unpublished
2946c Halka (Moniuszko): The wind wails 022350
2947c Rusalka (Dargomizhsky): Everything here reminds me 022355
2948c Nero (Rubinstein): Ah, my fate 022354
2949c Carmen (Bizet): La fleur 022347
2951c Carmen (Bizet): Oui, je parlerais (w. Katulskaja) 024100
2952c May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Duet (w. Katulskaja) 024092, HMB27
2962c Oprichnik (Chajkovskij): Morozov's farewell (w. chorus) HMB162
2962½c Oprichnik (Chajkovskij): Morozov's farewell (w. chorus) unpublished
2965c Crucifix (Faure) (w. Tikhonov) unpublished
2965½c Crucifix (Faure) (w. Tikhonov) 024089
18557b May night (Rimskij-Korsakov): Sleep, my beauty 4-22671
18558b Rafael (Arensky): My heart trembles with passion and tenderness HMA198
18559b Faust (Gounod): Il était temps (Invocation) 4-22791
18570b Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): I do not know her name unpublished
18570½b Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): I do not know her name 4-22678
18652b The maid of Pskov (Rimskij-Korsakov): Sing, cuckoo 4-22656
18653b Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): The height of the sky (w. chorus) 4-22717
18654b The maid of Pskov (Rimskij-Korsakov): Men of Pskov, assemble X-2-62411
18654½b The maid of Pskov (Rimskij-Korsakov): Men of Pskov, assemble 4-22787
Gramplasttrest, Moskva 1938
Zolotaja dolina (Dunaevskij): A u nas 7505
(w. Lazareva, Lebedeva, Zarubeev, Kulakov, Karpov and Krainskij)
Reference for the discography the excellent website 78opera.com (defunct), and the equally excellent website Russian Records.