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100 Greatest Singers: FEODOR CHALIAPIN

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Uploaded on Dec 23, 2008

THIS PROJECT IS RESERVED ONLY FOR THE GREATEST! Feodor Chaliapin here in this collection? What do you think? Please comment!

Feodor Chaliapin, bass (1873-1938)

Charles Gounod - Faust
Le veau d´or
(Recording date so far unknown)

My personal opinion: Chaliapin was the real "Phantom of the opera", just like his contemporary Lon Chaney a man of a thousand faces, a chameleon. His force of suggestibility was stupendous, "he left his audience breathless" wrote Maxim Gorki in "My friend Fedor".
Russian born Fedor (or Feodor) Chaliapin was the "Caruso" among basses, at his time a superstar beyond comparison.
I only know Chaliapin from his recordings, I don´t rate the 1934 Eisenstein movie "Don Quichotte". Chaliapins own words: "I stood beside myself. Theatre drove me out of my mind." After he saw an opera, he "tried to change the real life into an opera".
Indeed, in his recordings he tried to reach a symbiosis of singing and speaking. Chaliapin again: "In opera you have to sing as if you speak!" That makes stunning impression, but it damaged the musicality. In almost every Chaliapin recording I found for myself strange mistakes of breathcontrol and singing on the line. Critic Michael Scott defended him: "It was an effort to gave a new feeling into an old form"(!). This is very interesting, it shows you have to make concession with Chaliapin. Every piece he´d sung became (even on records) a piece of pure vocal acting. Like Carusos stifling sob in Canios lament, Chaliapin also was imitated by countless successors. Around the first decades in the 20th century it was in vogue to suffer tragic music. What a Pity, because Chaliapins vocal capital was big (although that of Lev Sibiryakov had more substance). But he was anxious to change cantabile music into dramatic life, that´s the way he was! Sometimes he even didn´t cares about note values. We have better (musically) recordings of "La calunnia" or "Madamina", but there´s another important side: Chaliapin never was boring. Each recording is a surprise: What will we hear this time?
The singing actor or the acting singer - with this attributes Chaliapin has his place in music history... And certainly in this list! Do you agree with this?

THE COMPLETE OVERVIEW: GO TO "ALL SINGERS IN THIS LIST"

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