Maxim Mikhailov

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Mikhailov, Maxim


Lebendige Vergangenheit

The vocal register which is associated most directly with the Russian school of singing is the one of the basses. Among the most glorious representatives one finds Osip Petrov, the first interpreter of Glinka's "Ivan Susanin", the "singing actor" Feodor Schaljapin, the four Pigorov brothers, the great Mark Reizen, Boris Gmyria, Alexander Kipnis, Mikhail Romensky - and, last but not least, Maxim Dormidontovich Mikhailov. Mikhailov was bom on August 25th 1893 to a family of peasants in the small village Koltsovka in the province Kazan. In his school days he sang in the church choir and with sixteen or seventeen years he left his hometown and headed for Kazan. There Mikhailov eamed his living as a docker and temporary worker in a fish factory. Already in his early youth Mikhailov wished to study singing. A fellow lodger of the local hostel suggested that he auditioned for the director of the local church choir where Mikhailov's voice was met with approval. Nevertheless, the director refused to admit him to his choir when he found out that the candidate had no official residence and recommended him to the monastery of the Holy Redeemer. Mikhailov went there on the same day and was accepted. Soon, he was also admitted to religious seminars and, apart from this, started to study with Professor F. A. Oshustovich at the music school in Kazan. lt was there that he made his first encounter with opera. In a gµest performance of Glinka's "Ivan Susanin" with the Moscow Opera Company Mikhailov heard Feodor Schaljapin in the title role and remained deeply impressed. In 1914 he completed his religious studies and was given the post of a deacon at the Ufimsky Cathedral. Three years later Mikhailov was transferred to Omsk, he then retumed to Kazan and in 1924 finally arrived in Moscow. In the meantime his wish to become a professional singer had become concrete. As often as possible he went to concerts and opera performances and studied several roles. Through his appearances in various churches Mikhailov had already made himself known in Moscow. In 1930 he was invited to an audition by the Allunions-Radio Committee and became a member of the Moscow Broadcasting Opera Ensemble. This was a decisive tuming point in the life of the then 37-year-old. As a soloist he took part in radio broadcastings of operas, Russian folksongs and romances. Especially the close collaboration with important artists like the composer Ippolitov-Ivanov, the conductors Golovanov and Orlov and the stage-managers Labitsky and Sudakov was very productive. At the end of 1932 Mikhailov left the radio station and was engaged at the Moscow Bolschoi Theatre where the singer's career reached its peak. In the beginning he was cast in small roles, as Zaretsky in "Eugen Onegin" and as Mitiukha in "Boris Godunov", but already in his first season he took over important roles such as the Waräger in "Sadko" and Count Yuri in "The history of the invisible town of Kitesh". The following season brought further title roles: Svetozar in Glinka's "Ruslan and Ludmila", Andrei Dubrovsky in Napravnik's "Dubrovsky", Father Frost in Rimsky-Korsakov's "Snowflake", Pimen in "Boris Godunov" and Ivan Khovansky in "Khovanshchina". Little later the roles of Khan Kontchak in "Prince Igor" and Count Gremin in "Eugen Onegin" became his most successful ones. But Mikhailov's repertory included also the works of contemporary Russian composers like "The silent Don" and "New land" by Dsershinsky and "Panzerkreuzer Potemkin" by Tsishko. Coming himself from the lower dass of society Mikhailov was especially able to impersonate opera roles of common people in an authentic and impressive way like, for example, Sobakin in Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Tzar's bride", Tshub in Tschaikovsky's "Pantöffelchen" or the Miller in Dargomyshsky's "Rusalka". His most important impersonation, being at the same time his own favourite role, was Ivan Susanin which he sang over 400 times. When this opera was given a new production at the Bolschoi Theatre in 1930 after 23 years of absence it was obvious who should sing the title role. Mikhailov also sang this symbolical figure who sacrificed his life to the Tzar and his people when the USSR celebrated the end of World War II on May 9th 1945 with a performance of "Ivan Susanin". His last appearance in this role he made on January 17th 1957. On March 30th 1971 Maxim Mikhailov died in Moscow. Although this singer left relatively few solo recordings his most significant operatic roles are documented in complete recordings: Pimen in "Boris Godunov" (cond.: Golovanov), Gremin in "Eugen Onegin" (cond.: Melik-Pashayev), Tshub in "Die Pantöffelchen" (cond.: Melik-Pashayev, 1948), the title role in "Ivan Susanin" (cond.: Melik-Pashayev), Svetozar in "Ruslan and Ludmila" (cond.: Samosud, 1938), Khan Kontchak in "Prince Igor" (cond.: Melik-Pashayev, 1941), Father Frost in "Snow­ flake" (cond.: Kondrashin), Sobakin in "The Tzar's bride" (cond.: Steinberg, 1943) and twice Frere Laurent (cond.: Orlov and Nebosin, 1947). Maxim Mikhailov's voice was the darkest in colour and the most powerful in dimen­ sion of all Russian basses of his generation. Its fullness and power could be heard best when Mikhailov could let the voice pour on his seemingly neverending breath. The immense impact he makes bases on a firmness, a calm that rests in itself and an almost supematural greatness. One seems to listen to an enormous statue. If the roles of the low male register divide up into "saints" and "sinners", like the American bass, Jerome Hines puts it, Mikhailov's repertory belonged rather to the first group. His characters were wise priests, gracious fathers and noble patriarchs. He inspired these figures with the authority of his powerful organ but at the same time a modesty and self posession which altogether produced a unique and individual greatness and ciignity.


Setanzahl 1
Tonträger CD
Artikelnummer PR89150
Veröffentlichungsdatum 28.01.1999
Tracks Nein
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