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Published on May 13, 2008
The Estonian baritone Georg Karlovich Ots (1920-1975) was undoubtedly one of the most successful and popular operatic singers of the post-World War II era Soviet Union. A graduate of the Tallinn State Conservatory in 1951, Ots gained early renown for his versatility, being as much at home in Russian and Estonian popular songs, folk songs, and operetta as he was in the operatic world. His fame spread rapidly after 1957, when he portrayed the title role in the Lenfilm movie "Mister X", based on Imre Kalman's operetta "Die Zirkusprinzessin". While he toured widely in the Soviet Union and was a frequent guest at the Bolshoi Theater, Ots nevertheless remained a regular at the Estonian National Theater until his untimely death in 1975.
Ots' voice was essentially a lyric instrument, not large, but the timbre was extraordinarily soft-grained, warm, and smooth- very caressing to the ear. The sound is quite distinct; you'll never mistake him for any other singer. From Imre Kalman's 1921 operetta "Die Bajadere", frequently encountered in the former USSR, we have Ots in top form here as Radjami von Lahore (originally a tenor role), an Indian prince enamored of Odette Darimond, star of "La Bayadère" at the Chatelet in Paris. In 1959 Ots recorded the delightful aria 'O Bayadere' both in Estonian and Russian, the latter version finding him in slightly fresher vocal estate. Indeed, this prince is honey-voiced, suave, and thoroughly beguiling. Yuri Silantiev and the USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra provide sympathetic support.