Vladimir Sergeevich Rosing

23 (11) January 1890 St. Petersburg – 24 November 1963 Los Angeles

Rosing (in actual transliteration from Russian: Rozing; but the name comes from a Swedish ancestor, and so Rosing is not only customary but also correct) was born on 23 (11) January 1890 in St. Petersburg into an aristocratic family, his father was a lawyer.

Rosing grew up among the Russian haute monde; his parents socialized with people like Tolstoj or the 1906–11 prime minister Pjotr Stolypin, whose biological father was Rosing's godfather. But in the 1905 revolution, Rosing witnessed the massacre in front of the Winter Palace – and was lost for the political beliefs of his class.

Rosing, trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, studied law at the St. Petersburg university. He was very active in antimonarchical student politics, but developed also a fierce animosity towards the upcoming Bolsheviks, who were active at the university, as well.

Besides law, he also studied singing privately with Marija Slavina, Aleksandra Kartseva, and Ioakim Tartakov. He made his debut in 1910 in a concert together with the famous Jasha Heifetz (9 years old at the time).

In 1910, Rosing departed to London, where he perfected his singing with George Power.

Rosing made his operatic debut in St. Petersburg in 1912 first as Triquet followed by Lenskij at the Musical Drama Theater.

From 1913, he lived permanently abroad, first going to Paris for further studies with Jean de Reszke and, above all, Giovanni Sbriglia; he then set up home in London. Rosing became world-famous after his sensational debut in London at Albert Hall (1913 together with Alice Verlet and Mischa Elman).

After the October Revolution in Russia (which led to the financial ruin of his family), he was very active for the refugees who poured into the UK, and intervened several times directly with the British government for them.

He sang opera in London (Pikovaja dama at Drury Lane in May 1915, Mademoiselle Fifi by Cui in 1915/16, Cavaradossi with the Carl Rosa Company in October 1921), in Paris (1921, 1923 and 1924: Pikovaja dama, Pagliacci, Faust, Carmen), Bruxelles (1921, Monnaie), Madrid (1921, Real). In 1923, Rosing settled in the USA, where he had already made very successful concert tours: he became the director of the operatic department of the newly founded Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, which he headed for the entire period of its existence, forming the American Opera Company with the school's students. He didn't only train the singers (Charles Kullman and Thelma Votipka among them), but acted also as stage director. In 1930, the company was forced to disband in the wake of the Great Depression, and Rosing moved back to London.

1930 was also the year he last appeared on stage. His repertory included: Sadko, German, Faust, José, Cavaradossi, Triquet, Lenskij, Grigorij, Stolzing, Canio, Bajan, Vladimir Igorevich, ...

But his most considerable achievement as a singer was his concert activity. In 1916, he organized concerts of Russian music in Liverpool together with V. Safonov. He was very popular in the US and Great Britain, where his talent was very much appreciated by George Bernard Shaw who called, in his book The perfect Wagnerite, Shaljapin and Rosing the two most extraordinary singers of the 20th century.

His activity as a producer didn't end with the American Opera Company; in 1936, he organized a British company in London together with Albert Coates, and another similar enterprise in 1938. He was also the stage director of the world's first televised opera, Pickwick by Albert Coates, produced by the British Music Drama Opera Company that was to stage the same opera at its Covent Garden season shortly after.

With his friend Coates, Rosing left Europe when WWII broke out and went to Los Angeles, where he and Coates founded the Southern California Opera Association. He also formed a political group with people like Thomas Mann and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., urging the USA to give up isolationism and to support the UK against the Nazis. After US entry into the war, Rosing volunteered for the US Army and directed many light opera productions for the troops in Camp Roberts, California, from 1943 to 1945.

After the war, he stayed in the USA as a very successful stage director (many times at the New York City Opera, at the Chicago Opera and in Montreal), a film director and a voice teacher. He was chosen to direct The California Story, a monumental historical spectacle for the centennial of the State of California, given at Hollywood Bowl in September 1950; the same production was revived several times in San Diego, and other similar spectacles followed for Rosing.

Rosing was one of the most exciting lied interpreters of all times; what he did with Musorgskij lieder has to be heard to be believed. In opera, he strangely left a lot to be desired; strangely because he had a powerful, dark, baritonal voice, certainly not the typical lieder voice. But in lieder singing, his ingenious interpretations made up for his average vocal technique, and he hardly ever needed his laboured top notes. In opera, he didn't display much ingeniousness, just as if the music always remained alien to him, and so his operatic efforts are not nearly as satisfying as his fantastic lieder recordings.

As a stage director, Rosing championed the cause of opera in English, hence his attempts to build permanent national opera companies in the United States and England. His stagings won the praise of the critics, and he was even compared to Max Reinhardt.

Rosing created (and taught) his own system of stage movement and acting for singers, based on his studies of ancient sculpture. He had started to develop that system already before going to Rochester. The central idea was that every gesture must be prepared by a movement in the opposite direction, and that it must necessarily be retrieved in the end. He was keen to eliminate all unnecessary movement, and relied on eye focus and head angles. Every motion in opera should come out of the sound. It all sounds awfully complicated, but it must have worked – Rosing created an acting style entirely his own.

Rosing died in Santa Monica on 24 November 1963.
Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Reference 4
Reference 5
Reference 6
Reference 7: Kutsch & Riemens

Vladimir Rosing singsPesni i pljaski smerti: Trepak

Vladimir Rosing sings Pesnja o blokhe (Song of the flea)

Vladimir Rosing singsDve gitary (Vasilyev)
In RA format

Vladimir Rosing singsSadko: Les diamants chez nous sont innombrables

Vladimir Rosing singsPagliacci: Vesti la giubba

Vladimir Rosing singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format

Vladimir Rosing singsFaust: Salut, demeure
In RA format

Vladimir Rosing singsTosca: E lucevan le stelle
In RA format
Source for the Trovatore recording: Russian Records, incredible website owned by Yuri Bernikov.
I wish to thank Tom Silverbörg for the recording (Faust).
I wish to thank Alessandro Sciocchetti for the recording (Tosca).
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Dve gitary).

Gramophone, St. Petersburg, May 1912
16560b   Tosca (Puccini): E lucevan le stelle                              4-22387
16561b   Werther (Massenet): Pourquoi me réveiller?                        4-22386

Gramophone, St. Petersburg, 30 November 1912
17069b   Spanish serenade (Rechkunov)                                      4-22447
17070b   We sat together (Chajkovskij)                                     unpublished
17070½b  We sat together (Chajkovskij)                                     4-22448
17071b   O give me that night (Bagrinovskij)                               unpublished
17072b   Cradle song (Grechaninov)                                         4-22449
17073b   Romance (Grechaninov)                                             unpublished

Gramophone, St. Petersburg, 3 December 1912
17077b   Evgenij Onegin (Chajkovskij): I love you, Olga (w. Davidova)      unpublished
17077½b  Evgenij Onegin (Chajkovskij): I love you, Olga (w. Davidova)      unpublished
17078b   Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                                           4-22450
17078½b  Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                                           unpublished
2712c    Carmen (Bizet): La fleur (Ru)                                     unpublished
2713c    Evgenij Onegin (Chajkovskij): Kuda, kuda                          unpublished

Gramophone, St. Petersburg, 19 December 1912
2721c    Roméo et Juliette (Gounod): Donna che noti (w. Lipkovska)         unpublished
2723c    Traviata (Verdi): Un dì felice (w. Lipkovska)                     054405

HMV, Hayes, 3 July 1913
Ho725ab  Nature morte (Jakobson); Hebrew song (Glinka)                     4-22674
Ho726ab  O give me the night (Bagrinovskij)                                4-22588
Ho727ab  I wish I were with thee (Grechaninov)                             unpublished
Ho728ab  I wish I were with thee (Grechaninov)                             4-22589
Ho729ab  Kamenshiki (Roznin)                                               unpublished

HMV, Hayes, 18 July 1913
Ho731ab  Autumn (Cherepnin)                                                unpublished
Ho509ac  Néron (Rubinstein): Strofi                                        unpublished

HMV, London, 31 July 1913
ak16843e Majskaja noch (Rimskij-Korsakov): Levko's aria                    unpublished
ak16844e I remember the evening (Cui)                                      unpublished
ak16845e Majskaja noch (Rimskij-Korsakov): Levko's aria                    4-22617
ak16846e Mattinata (Leoncavallo) (It)                                      4-22675
ak16847e Autumn (Cherepnin)                                                unpublished
ak16848e Do not believe (Petrov)                                           4-22613
ak16849e Autumn (Cherepnin)                                                4-22618
ak16850e Cradle song (Grechaninov)                                         4-22614

HMV, Hayes, 6 June 1914
Ho994b   Silence (Kazhevarov)                                              unpublished
Ho995b   Silence (Kazhevarov)                                              unpublished
Ho996b   Majskaja noch (Rimskij-Korsakov): Levko's aria                    unpublished
Ho997b   Majskaja noch (Rimskij-Korsakov): Levko's aria                    unpublished
Ho998b   A warm night and an enchanted moon (Kochetov)                     unpublished
Ho999b   A warm night and an enchanted moon (Kochetov)                     unpublished
Ho1000b  All things pass away (Rachmaninoff); 
         In my soul winter reigned (Vrangel)                      	   unpublished

HMV, Hayes, 11 February 1915
Ho1134b  Mattinata (Leoncavallo)                                           unpublished
Ho1135b  I opened the window (Chajkovskij)                                 unpublished
Ho1136b  Do not leave me (De Curtis)                                       unpublished
Ho1137b  Where my caravan has rested (Löhr)                                unpublished
Ho1138b  Do not leave me (De Curtis)                                       unpublished

HMV, Hayes, 23 May 1915
Ho1501ab Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): I know not her name                  unpublished
Ho1502ab Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): What is our life?                    unpublished
Ho1503ab Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): What is our life?                    unpublished
Ho834ac  Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): Forgive me, bright celestial vision  2-022000, DB266
Ho835ac  Pikovaja dama (Chajkovskij): If ever you knew                     2-022001, DB266

HMV, Hayes, 24 March 1916
Ho2662ab Sweet perfume of lilacs (Plotnikov)                               unpublished
Ho2663ab Sweet perfume of lilacs (Plotnikov)                               unpublished
Ho2664ab Frenzied nights (Chajkovskij)                                     unpublished
Ho2665ab My beautiful morning (Vrangel)                                    unpublished
Ho2667ab Berceuse (Chajkovskij)                                            unpublished
Ho2668ab Berceuse (Chajkovskij)                                            unpublished
Ho2669ab Night (Chajkovskij)                                               unpublished
Ho1689ac Night (Chajkovskij)                                               unpublished

Vocalion, New York City, December 1918
1471	 Tosca (Puccini): Recondita armonia				   unpublished

Vocalion, London, May 1919
01114	 Tosca (Puccini): Recondita armonia                                A-0103, A-0206
01115    Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Vesti la giubba                          A-0101, A-0205

Vocalion, London, June 1919
01158    Africaine (Meyerbeer): Ô paradis                                  A-0169, A-0209
01161    Aida (Verdi): Celeste Aida                                        A-0187, A-0210

Vocalion, London, July 1919
01237    Élégie (Massenet)                                                 A-0157, A-0210
01248    Martha (Flotow): M'apparì                                         A-0141, A-0233
01251    Tosca (Puccini): E lucevan le stelle                              A-0119, A-0208

Vocalion, London, 16 October 1919
01412    Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni): Addio alla madre                 A-0151, A-0209
01414    Trovatore (Verdi): Di quella pira                                 A-0102, A-0205

Vocalion, London, 1 January 1920
01566    My beloved country (Grechaninov); Rain (Grechaninov)              A-0134
01570    Song of the flea (Musorgskij)                                     A-0118, A-0207, 52021, 70022
01571    Song of a poor wanderer (Manikin-Nestruev)                        A-0133

Vocalion, London, 20 January 1920
01598    Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): Song of the Indian guest (Fr)           A-0189
01602    The dreary steppe (Grechaninov)                                   A-0132
01606    Hunger (Cui) (83)                                                 A-0131
01608    The goat (Musorgskij)                                             A-0140, A-0207

Vocalion, London, 17 March 1920
01714    The orphan (Musorgskij)                                           B-3009, B-3104

Vocalion, London, 9 April 1920
01752    Knjaz Igor (Borodin): Medlenno den ugasal                         A-0159, 52022, 70022
01755    Field marshall death (Musorgskij)                                 A-0188, A-0223

Vocalion, London, early June 1920
01839    Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Prize song                   A-0153, A-0208
01841    Bohème (Puccini): Che gelida manina                               A-0104, A-0206
01843    Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): No, Pagliaccio non son                   A-0148, A-0223
01849    Roméo et Juliette (Gounod): Ah, lêve-toi, soleil                  A-0190, A-0233

Vocalion, London, 4 August 1920
01933    The prisoner (Rubinstein)                                         B-3013, B-3105
01934    The weeping herb; Prayer for alms; I am sitting on a stone; 
         Ah! my bright swallows (folk songs, arr Rimskij-Korsakov)         A-0129

Vocalion, London, 11 August 1920
01937    The star (Musorgskij); Savishna (Musorgskij)                      A-0139
01938    Autumn leaves (Cherepnin)                                         A-0128
01941    The wedding (Dargomyzhskij)                                       A-0127
01943    Ballad (Musorgskij)                                               B-3011

Vocalion, London, 25 August 1920
01962    Erjomushka's cradle song (Musorgskij)                             B-3010, B-3105, 60052
01965    The nightingale and the rose; A southern night (Rimskij-Korsakov) A-0126
01967    Death's serenade (Musorgskij)                                     A-0137
01968    Death's serenade (Musorgskij)                                     A-0137

Vocalion, London, early/mid September 1920
01970    The clock (Sakhnovskij)                                           B-3007, B-3114, 60052
01971    Conceit (Borodin)                                                 B-3006
01973    Frenzied nights (Chajkovskij)                                     B-3005
01974    The sea (Borodin)                                                 A-0125
01977    Lullaby (Vasilenko)                                               A-0124
01978    Everybody says you're a fool; I'm a plucky chap (Balakirev)       B-3004, B-3122
01982    Nimfa (Rimskij-Korsakov)                                          A-0123
01983    The North Star (Glinka)                                           B-3003
01986    Akahito (Stravinsky)                                              B-3002
01988    Song of May (Medtner)                                             B-3001
01989    The eagle (Arenskij)                                              A-0122

Vocalion, London, 15 September 1920
01991    Trepak (Musorgskij)                                               A-0135, A-0235
01993    Death's cradle song (Musorgskij)                                  A-0138
01994    Spring waters (Rachmaninoff)                                      B-3000, B-3104

Vocalion, London, January 1921
02139    Gathering mushrooms (Musorgskij)                                  B-3012, B-3122
02140    The journey (Glinka)                                              B-3008, B3114
02141    Hopak (Musorgskij)                                                A-0130
02142    Field marshall death (Musorgskij)                                 A-0136, A-0235

Vocalion, New York City, July 1921
7752	 Knjaz Igor (Borodin): Medlenno den ugasal			   52022, 70022

Vocalion, London, 7 September 1921
02490    Lord Rendell (arr Sharp)                                          unpublished
02490x   Lord Rendell (arr Sharp)                                          A-0167, A-0225
02491    Over here (Wood)                                                  unpublished
02491x   Over here (Wood)                                                  A-0168, A-0225

Vocalion, New York City, September 1921
         Spring waters (Rachmaninoff)                                      30141
	 Song of the flea (Musorgskij)                                     52021, 70022

Vocalion, New York City, January 1922
         Faust (Gounod): Salut! demeure                                    52029, 70021

Vocalion, New York City, April 1922
8362     Carmen (Bizet): La fleur                                          52034, 70021 

Vocalion, New York City, June 1923
         In the silence of the night (Rachmaninoff)                        30172, 60048

Vocalion, New York City, July 1923
         Sadko (Rimskij-Korsakov): Song of the Indian guest                30178, 60048

Vocalion, New York City, 8 September 1924
13651    Song of the Volga boatmen (arr. Koeneman)                         unpublished
13652    Song of the Volga boatmen (arr. Koeneman)                         unpublished
13653    Song of the Volga boatmen (arr. Koeneman)                         38018, A-0230
13654    Song of the Volga boatmen (arr. Koeneman)                         unpublished
13655    Song of the Volga boatmen (arr. Koeneman)                         unpublished
13656    Dream on the Volga (Lullaby) (Arenskij)                           unpublished
13657    Dream on the Volga (Lullaby) (Arenskij)                           unpublished
13658    Dream on the Volga (Lullaby) (Arenskij)                           38018, A-0230

Parlophone, London, 15 December 1933
XE6334-1 Song of the flea (Musorgskij)                                     unpublished
XE6334-2 Song of the flea (Musorgskij)                                     E11240, A4427, 25197
XE6335-1 Song of the Volga boatmen (trad)                                  E11240, A4427, 25197
XE6335-2 Song of the Volga boatmen (trad)                                  unpublished
XE6335-3 Song of the Volga boatmen (trad)                                  unpublished

Parlophone, London, 23 February 1934
XE6393-1 My father has some very fine sheep (arr Hughes); Romance (Cui)    E11247, A4432, 25468
XE6395-1 Danse macabre (Saint-Saëns); Cradle song (Grechaninov)            unpublished
XE6395-2 Danse macabre (Saint-Saëns); Cradle song (Grechaninov)            E11247, A4432, 25468
XE6396-1 Knjaz Igor (Borodin): Medlenno den ugasal                         E11251, A4441, 25188

Parlophone, London, 21 March 1934
XE6415-1 Do not depart (Rachmaninoff); Hunger (Cui)                        E11251, A4441, 25188

Parlophone, London, 29 November 1934
E6743-1  Don Juan's serenade (Chajkovskij)                                 unpublished
E6743-2  Don Juan's serenade (Chajkovskij)                                 unpublished
E6743-3  Don Juan's serenade (Chajkovskij)                                 unpublished
E6743-4  Don Juan's serenade (Chajkovskij)                                 R2015, A6092, 20364
E6744-1  Isobel (Bridge) 						   R2015, A6092, 20364

Parlophone, London, 4 December 1934
XE6745-1 Black eyes; Gajda troika (trad) (w. Alekseeva)                    E11264, A4447
XE6746-1 The old waltz (trad); Two guitars (Vasilyev) (w. Alekseeva)       E11264, A4447

Parlophone, London, 10 April 1935
XE6929-1 Trepak (Musorgskij)                                               SW4, A4462, 29023
XE6930-1 Ballad; Savishna (Musorgskij)                           	   SW6, A4464, 29025
XE6931-1 Death's serenade (Musorgskij)                                     SW5, A4463, 29024
XE6932-1 Sorochinskij fair (Musorgskij): Reverie of the young peasant      SW3, A4461, 29022
XE6933-1 Gopak (Musorgskij)                                                SW1, A4459, 29020
XE6934-1 The goat (Musorgskij)                                             SW6, A4464, 29025

Parlophone, London, 11 April 1935
XE6937-1 Erjomushka's cradle song (Musorgskij)                             SW1, A4459, 29020
XE6938-1 The orphan; Gathering mushrooms (Musorgskij)                      SW3, A4461, 29022
XE6939-1 Death's cradle song (Musorgskij)                                  SW4, A4462, 29023
XE6940-1 Field marshal death (Musorgskij)                                  unpublished
XE6940-2 Field marshal death (Musorgskij)                                  SW5, A4463, 29024
XE6941   Song of the flea (Musorgskij)                                     S-1075
XE6944-1 The star (Musorgskij)                                             SW2, A4460, 29021
XE6945-1 To the Dnjepr (Musorgskij)                                        SW2, A4460, 29021

Parlophone, London, 25 May 1937
XE8372-1 At the ball; Again as before (Chajkovskij)                        unpublished
XE8372-2 At the ball; Again as before (Chajkovskij)                        R20376, AR1097, 29048
XE8373-1 The North Star; Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                       	   unpublished
XE8373-2 The North Star; Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                       	   unpublished
XE8373-3 The North Star; Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                       	   unpublished
XE8373-4 The North Star; Virtus antiqua (Glinka)                       	   R20374, AR1095, 29046
XE8374-1 The nightingale and the rose; A southern night (Rimskij-Korsakov) R20375, AR1096, 29046

Parlophone, London, 28 May 1937
XE8380-1 Don't speak, beloved; Why? (Chajkovskij)                 	   R20376, AR1097, 29048
XE8380-2 Don't speak, beloved; Why? (Chajkovskij)                 	   unpublished
XE8381-1 In the silence of the night; Spring waters (Rachmaninoff) 	   R20378, AR1099, 29050
XE8381-2 In the silence of the night; Spring waters (Rachmaninoff) 	   unpublished
XE8382-1 Oh, do not sing again!; The island (Rachmaninoff)         	   unpublished
XE8382-2 Oh, do not sing again!; The island (Rachmaninoff)         	   R20378, AR1099, 29050
XE8383-1 Dream on the Volga; Autumn (Arenskij)                         	   R20377, AR1098, 29049
XE8383-2 Dream on the Volga; Autumn (Arenskij)                         	   unpublished

Parlophone, London, 22 June 1937
XE8448-1 The sea (Borodin)                                                 R20375, AR1096, 29047
XE8449-1 Song of the poor wanderer (Manikin-Nestruev);
         The drunken miller (Dargomyzhskij)                                R20374, AR1095, 29046

Parlophone, London, 21 July 1937
XE8537-1 The dreary steppe; Snowflakes; Rain (all Grechaninov)             R20377, AR1098, 29049
References for the discography: www.78opera.com (defunct); Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien

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