Boris Evlakhov


Born on 12th (24th) of April, 1891 in the city of Pjatigorsk into an upper-class family. His father was a college teacher of mathematics, and his mother was a talented piano player and singer. Music and singing were an integral part of the early years of Evlakhov.

From a very early age, Evlakhov was particularly drawn to the theater and the stage. When he was in high-school, he would organize stagings with his friends, and everyone thought he would chose a career as a drama artist. But after finishing high-school, he decided to go to Moscow and try to get accepted both to the drama and the vocal faculty at the Musical-Dramatic College of the Moscow Philharmonic society.

After starting studying in both faculties, Evlakhov very quickly gave his preference to vocal, and was absolutely engrossed in studying voice in the class of professor L. D. Donskoj. He decided to dedicate himself to singing, and in addition to his studies in college, he also started studying with A. M. Dodonov – the teacher of one of the most famous Russian singers, Leonid Sobinov. Even at that preliminary stage, Evlakhov had clearly shown that he possessed a very powerful and resounding dramatic tenor.

In 1912, Evlakhov was drafted into the army, but after serving only one year, he returned to his studies. In February 1914, Evlakhov successfully passes the examination and gets accepted to the famous private opera of S. I. Zimin. He was about to start his singing career with the roles of Alfredo and Grinev ("Kapitanskaja dochka/The captain's daughter" by César Cui), but the outbreak of World War I ruined all those plans, as he was drafted into the army again. He served in the combat troops and was wounded twice during the war. It seems far-fetched, but even in the horrible conditions at the front, Evlakhov organized different plays, and his enthusiasm lifted his 107th infantry division fellow soldiers' moral.

In the end of 1917, Evlakhov gets back to Moscow and continues to work on his voice. In the summer of 1918, he joins an opera troupe of another private opera theater and finally gets to sing. In just three months, Evlakhov performs the roles of José, Grigorij, Duca, Canio.

In October 1918, Evlakhov goes to trials at the Bolshoj Theater; before the examiners, he performs the aria of José and a scene from "Pikovaja dama", and gets accepted to the theater, where he is soon chosen for many leading roles. His debut was the role of Mikhailo Tucha in the opera "Pskovitjanka/The maid of Pskov" by Rimskij-Korsakov. After that, he is offered the role of Tannhäuser in Wagner's opera, but doesn't accept – he feels he is not ready for it. Sensing a lack in his stage skills, Evlakhov decides he needs good schooling in that field. He begins to frequent the studio that is being organized at the Bolshoj by K. S. Stanislavskij. Many years after that, when reminiscing about his career, he says it was in that studio where he studied how to be a real stage actor and how to be able to perform the most demanding roles. In that studio he works with other artists of the Bolshoj – E. A. Stepanova, F. S. Petrova, A. K. Mineev, K. E. Antarova and others.

One of the first roles which Evlakhov performs on the stage of Bolshoj is German, which would remain one of his favorite roles and a very important step in his career. On this role, he worked with the stage director P. S. Olenin. Other key roles in his career were José in "Carmen" and Radames in "Aida" – he first appeared in those roles in 1919–1922, and he was very much drawn to them, doing his best to thoroughly and deeply understand them and convey that understanding to the listener, never forgetting to add something of his own, something he thought he had discovered. For a number of years, Evlakhov was the only one to perform those roles at the Bolshoj, while performances could be as frequent as five or six times a month.

The start of Evlakhov's Bolshoj career was extremely successful, but he appeared, as a lyric-dramatic tenor, in dramatic roles only, which put a strain on his voice. Another problem was a financial one – in the early 1920s, life in the USSR was very hard, and even the soloists of the Bolshoi suffered from lack of proper conditions. Those factors contributed to the deterioration of his health. The need arose to leave Moscow for some time, and to have a period of rest. Evlakhov leaves the Bolshoj and goes to work in the periphery.

In 1923, Evlakhov tours Kiev, Tiflis, Baku. 1924–1926, he works at the Odessa and Perm opera theaters. In 1926/27, he works in Novosibirsk and Samara. Aside from that, he tours many other Soviet cities.

In October 1927, Evlakhov returns to Moscow and on the stage of the Bolshoj, he performs again many leading roles – both dramatic and lyrical. He is many times chosen for very important premieres, especially of operas by Soviet composers. Unfortunately, Evlakhov recorded very little and his recordings are extremely rare.

1945/46 was the last season of Evlakhov on the stage of the Bolshoj. His theater career ended when he was 55 years old. When he left the stage, he started to teach young singers. Boris Evlakhov died on the 26th of January, 1974.

Sergej Lemeshev wrote about him: "He had an incredible scenic presence – high and slender body, with flawless facial features, and more important: eyes that were always full of life, full of true feeling; and a beautiful lyric-dramatic voice, musicality, a feeling for the presence on the scene, a talent for changing with each and every role. But he had more than that – his soul had nobility, tact, modesty, and those features which he possessed in real life, he brought to the scene, and they always gave his roles an incredibly charming touch of intelligence, heartfelt warmth, magical enchantment."

Boris Evlakhov singsPodnjataja tselina: Zdravstvuj, Lusha, with Elena Kruglikova

Boris Evlakhov singsPodnjataja tselina: Sily vse my otdadim, with Elena Kruglikova
I wish to thank Igor Milner for the biography and the recordings.

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