Donat Antonovich Donatov

Donatov was born in St. Petersburg on the 2nd of February 1914. His real name was Donat Lukshtoraub. After the Bolshevik revolution, his family moved to Riga where he spent his childhood.

His mother was a professional singer. Donatov learnt first to play the piano, and then sang in the choir in his school. There he was noticed for the range of his voice: he sang both the romance of the Demon as well as Nadir's aria.

Donatov was heard by the dramatic soprano Marianna Cherkasskaja, who had also taken refuge in Riga after the revolution. She recommended him to the teacher Donat Shatokhin-Alvarez, himself a student of Francesco Lamperti.

After his studies, Donatov made his debut in Riga as German in Pikovaja dama with an amateur company. After that, he sang Lenskij, then tackled operettas such as La mascotte, Die lustige Witwe, Der Graf von Luxemburg, Paganini. In order to perfect his acting skills, Donatov joined the dramatic company managed by Eduard Smilguis. There he played in the Taming of the Shrew. He also learned how to produce a play, and in the 1950s, Donatov produced operas such as Pikovaja dama, Tiefland, and Otello.

His dream was to go to Italy and have a career similar to Gigli. Donatov left for Italy in fall 1937 with a letter of recommendation from his teacher. He met Aureliano Pertile who took him as student and got him his first contract in Italy in Trovatore in La Fenice on the 7th of March 1939. There he sang with with Caniglia, Zinetti and Tagliabue. Caniglia recommended him to her impresario Giuseppe Mazzini. After that, Donatov sang in La traviata with Dal Monte and Montesanto, then in Un ballo in maschera, and finally Tosca.Those performances at La Fenice must viewed with circumspection as the published chronology of La Fenice does not list any performances by Donatov

Back in Riga, Donatov's plan to return to Italy is killed by the Nazis invading Poland. The Nazis occupied all the Baltic countries and hired all the local singers to go to Germany by force. Donatov is sent first to Dresden, then to Königsberg.

At the end of the war, Donatov reappears in Riga, Kaunas, Odessa, Baku, Tbilisi, and Novosibirsk. In 1949, Donatov is first tenor in Odessa where he sings Don José, Canio, Radames, Turiddu, and Otello.

In 1950, he sang in Lviv, Erevan, Baku, Saratov, Tbilisi, where the famous baritone Batu Kraveichvili said of him: His voice and his gifts drove the audience wild, and he was asked to sing Neapolitan songs.

In 1955, Donatov goes back to Leningrad and is hired by the Malij Theater. There he sang Tosca, Don Carlo (31st July 1955), Enzo. Donatov incurred the wrath of the house tenors Mikhail Dovenman, Arkadi Almazov, and Ivan Pichugin.

After that, Donatov worked as producer and voice teacher. Donatov died during on April 27th, 1995 in St. Petersburg from liver cancer.

His best roles included José, Canio, Turiddu, Otello, Radames, and Duca.

A private company issued a single LP of Donatov. The record contains excerpts from 1950s radio broadcasts of concerts and performances in Odessa and Leningrad.
Reference: liner notes of the LP

Donat Donatov singsIl trovatore: Ah sì, ben mio
In RA format, and definitely not for a Bocelli fan

Donat Donatov singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format, and definitely not for a Bocelli fan
I wish to thank Alessandro Sciocchetti for the recording (Di quella pira).
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Ah sì ben mio) and the additions to the biographical notes.

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