Leonid Sobinov - Documentary

Uploaded by ditogam on 05.08.2011

“Do not worry about me, fame and successes will never make me swaggering,
I’m powerful because of this. I always see the other side of medal
and if something is closed my soul, I never forget anything,”
These are the words which Leonid Sobinov wrote at the time when he
already ascent to Olympus of the opera in the beginning of 20th century.
He was a star of the Empire’s theatres -Bolshoi and Mariinsky.
He was greatly admired at all the best theatres of the world.
Even in very dangerous and hard times, which were evoked because of war and revolution,
Sobinov never had doubts that he was needed for his country, and he always declined
the invitations from the foreign impresarios to leave his native country forever.
Moscow 1891.
Traveling nearly every day through University roads, on the road I unwittingly was
stopping near the little two-floor mansion, where there was a philharmonic school.
I was wondering to enter there and ask them to teach me sing.
At that time Ljonia(short form of Leonid) was 19. He was a student of Faculty
of Law at Moscow University and was preparing for serous lawyer career.
He was studying Roman law, political economics, and other sciences.
And also, there was a choir at the University, where Sobinov was elected as a first tenor.
For the first time, Moscow did not impress him much.
There are the letters to his family from 1890: the dust is devilish,
every time you hear noise, cry outs, here is a lot of starving.
From the right side of Nicolsky Street comes a young man and asks
“can you give to student something for bread?” . I gave him a little.”
At that time Sobinov’s pocket wasn't so thick, but he was ready to help everyone.
It will pass not quite much time and he will become a famous artist,
and he will always give charity concerts for needy people, unselfishly to help students,
war orphan… and it was the same anytime, in any political situations.
Alla Anosovskaya(Director of L.Sobinov home-museum , Yaroslavl): He was born in Yaroslavl,
in a very modest family, in a family which was very far away from the music and art.
And here is his house, very dear for him;
three generations of the Sobinovs owned this house.
And the city always remained native for him.
In 1915 he was declared as an Honored citizen of the Yaroslavl.
Leonid Sobinov always produced an impression on his contemporaries
as singer with nobility, well-cared, with refined manners and taste.
Although, he was far away from Russian nobility, his roots were half merchant, half peasant.
His grandfather Vasili, shortly after free, ransomed from the landowner
and served as a rich merchant Mukamolinu as a trusted person.
After Vasilii, his father began to work there.
They were traveling with the tugboat through Volga.
Their life was quite wealthy to give the children the ability to study at the gymnasia.
But here the family care ended. His mother, Ekaterina Feodorovna died when he was 13.
From the 4th grade he began to work as a tutor.
And when he came to Moscow, he already did not expect the family to help him.
He went to earn a living in theater Ukrainian bark Zankovetskoi,
which was located in the building of today’s Moscow Art Theater (MXAT in Russian).
By the way young Feodor Chaliapin began his career, there.
Lately, when the famous singers met, they had a lot to recall and to laugh at.
Philharmonic school.
Philharmonic school was leaded by pianist Piotr Shostakovsky
He noticed young tenor at the charity concert at the Grant hall of the Nobility meeting.
Piotr invited him to study at school and it was not disappointed.
It was there, where Sobinov met his future wife – Maria Korjavina.
During several years there have been violent changes in his life.
When graduating the university, he already was a student of Philharmonic school,
singing in the troupe of the Italian opera, and became a father.
In 1895 his son, Boris was born, and two years later, his son Yuri.
The time has come to think seriously about the future head of the family.
As young specialist he had to have practice.
Leonid Kantorovich Sobinov selects the position of the barrister of famous lawyer- Plenyanevalawyer.
And here he got two lives: He was invited to sing at the Imperial Theatres.
He works at the court in the morning,
and in the evening he not only captivates the audience, but leads it into raptures.
He made his début in Bolshoi as Sinodal in the Rubinstein’s opera Demon.
The success was overwhelming; the romance was repeated for an encore.
For some time he manages to combine singing and advocacy.
But when once the commercial court chairman turns to him,
"Well, let’s see what a nightingale will sing us today",
he finally decides to leave office service.
Now a young singer does not have any doubts: He needs to continue his vocal career.
Just only Sobinov’s appearance impressed everyone.
In front Larins’ house, on the lawn came out enthusiastic, loving,
and curly down to shoulders young, slim man with light movements.
The stage saw “the vivid person”, exactly like Pushkin described him.
He was young and exactly – “image of a young poet".
After his performances, other actors of Imperial Theatres had nothing to do;
they could only imitate Sobinov with the costumes or acting.
But no one could shadow him with this magnificent appear.
“Thank you for your simple, soulful sound, clean and bright,
for your bel canto, because we so much missed perfect, light, magnificent singing.
I shake your hand firmly. Sincere yours, Kachalov”.
Not only artists and singers, but Russian composers
and musicians felt honored to meet Sobinov..
Alla Anosovskaya : Arensky, Rachmaninov , César Cui …
you can continue the list .. He sang for Mussorsky.
But the fact that Rachmaninov dedicate 6 romances to him, speaks itself.
He admitted Sobinov so much as fa inest artist, a finest singer.
They said that Sobinov ‘s birth was impossible in Russia,
he was called Russian-Italian, accidently burn in Russia.
In 1900, Italy opened her arms for Sobinov and his companions.
His acquaintance with this music country began with
the most important opera city for Italians, Milan.
At the beginning the trip was for pleasure and education.
But Leonid Nikolaevich coud not stayed without working.
He rented a piano, hired a famous singing teacher Mazzola(Masolli),
began learning tricks of bel canto and some new roles.
Just a couple of years later, Leonid Sobinov conquered the
audience of La Scala, he became a true European star.
He visited Italy every year, preparing new roles, showing Russian taste to Italians,
because the audience will till survive the bewilderment.
“All that we eat stinks with garlic and it shows more of poor Italian pockets
than about the poor appetite”. I’m eating nearly only at home,
and every time I have a conversation with cooker about what to cook and how to do it.
I teach her how to cook Lapsha, Schi, Borsh … in general, the scenes are compunction.
In Italy Leonid Sobinov was preparing the roles in two languages: Russian and Italian.
Beside the detailed study of the scores, Leonid Sobinov
did what the other singers were not interested in common.
Bring to mind the libretto, changing parties' texts,
making it convenient for both voice and hearing;
with passion for art, he walked through the galleries, museums, and stores.
Looking for the desired tissue and attributes for the future roles.
Extracts from the letter to "Little Theatre" actress, Eliisaveta Sodovskaya, 1902:
“Certainly, I want to make costumes here, I got excellent Venetian materials;
I bought an Old Italian book about Italian costumes from 14-16th centuries;
a very interesting edition. The only thing left is to go to the tailor and it will be finished.
I want to make four costumes for Romeo, for Nimeniom(?) –two. “
The second letter to Sodovskaya, August, 1904:
“Don Pasquale, as a very easy and unpretentious opera, is ready to complete.
But for the Fra Diavolo I'm sitting like the Japanese in Port Arthur,
exactly, the devil role.” And it's written on the eve of furore at La Scala.
As contemporaries said, Leonid Sobinov's interpretations forced the
Italians to change their attitude to the opera as art of only singing.
Now, all other singers had to make dramatic acting of the role.
In Milan, he got success, which had no other foreigner;
in an evening he became a world celebrity.
“There, in Italy they began debate about if Sobinov is Russian, or he is Italian.
Seems that Russia also have wonderful voices. And Russia is not only country of bears”:
Newspapers began to write. In additional, there happened very funny story:
Alla Anosovskaya : One day the train from Moscow came;
when the doors opened, and Italians were shocked to see how people
with white caps came out from the restaurant, carried barrels of caviar,
some carried tanks which are lapped starlet; and the audience who were there,
were standing with opened mouths and were asking:
What is this, where do they carry it? … And someone said:
This gentleman is Sobinov, he arranges Russian dinner for his Italian friends.
Italian stars met him very warmly. He became friend with Tito Ruffo.
The joy and warms of meeting with Italians, strongly contrasted by the Russian Imperia.
In one of the letters to Elisaveta Sadovskaya, Sobinov angrily wrote:
“They will never forgive the successes I have; I’m like a bone in the throat.
It's a pleasure to all those prophet who judge me for everything,
for soon loose of the voice, for quick career end, then failure abroad …
is it pleasure for them that it was everything senseless lie … “.
Sobinov is in debates, continue the contract with
Imperial theatres, or make new deal with Italy.
For this time he already toured to Monte Carlo, Berlin,
he appeared in the private performances at the Petersburg and Kislovodsk theatres.
The dames of the heart:
I’m not searching glory of Don Juan, and I never was like him.
I’m only a very alive and temperament person to not
digress and not respond what is happening around me.
Alla Anosovskaya : Sobinov had two official marriage and several laud romances,
but he never became the hero of scandals. The “Yellow Press” always was disappointed,
because they did not have anything to write about him, there were romances,but no scandals.
Among his friends were very decent ladies.
Sobinov always was very honest person and he told that
he do not believe for eternal love, it doesn’t exists.
There is winter, spring, summer and autumn …
but devotion to the loved one he kept for whole life.
When Sobinov become to know “Little Theatre” actress
Elisaveta Sadovskaya, there were already 29.
He already had experience of marriage with his first wife, Maria Korzhavina.
He delayed quite time while his wife would not chose her new husband.
Leonid Sobinov was surrounded by many women
–actresses, singers, and dancers … the ladies from the high society.
“It’s the richest rill inside me, this is the longing for love,
and will spend it when there ring to brave key”.
“To prohibit love, it’s the same as eclipse of sunbeam”.
Friendships with Sadovskaya grown to strong feelings, which chained them for many years.
They were writing letters nearly every day, they were talking about everything they care about.
“My lovely Lisinka, my darling …” was writing to her Leonid Sobinov.
Despite that lately Korzhavina got married and Sobinov already had his own family,
the letters were not stopping until the end of Korzhavina’s life,
and Sobinov lived only for a few months after his “Lizinka’s” death.
Vera Karali, the dancer of Bolshoi theatre, one of the first stars of silent movies,
considered a meeting with Leonid Sobinov as the main event of her life.
She broke into his life suddenly and swiftly.
From the 1909, they traveled to Italy together.
Vera accomplished him in European tours: London, Riga, Warsaw.
Then tour in Russia, Siberia and the Far East.
Vera Carali recalled that Sobinov was writing
poetries during long trips from city-to-city.
But he considered it only enjoyment and he sometimes throw them away, or just tore.
To the daughter twins of his smaller sister, Anna, preserved his some poetries :
“The helpless Spring has frozen, gently fighting with the lap, but hour will come,
and the life and force will melt the dirty snow, laughing on it,
then the green beauty will order to sing a song to winds, to oaks and to birches,
to evening sunsets and to mornings”.
From the memories of singer Antonina Nezhdanova:
Leonid Vitalievich had poetic possibilities, very often at rehearsals,
he composed an impromptu humorous quatrains, and wrote it on his or my partitures.
When he became an honored artist of Imperial Theatre
he wrote one of these kind quatrains on rehearsal:
“Not with talent famous, not with merits I deserve, life lived ducky Leonid and died under wifes' sobs”.
Antonina Nezhdanova was a wonderful lady in his life,
and they were connected long, but only creative collaboration.
Marianna Beljanchikova(Sobinov’s niece): You imagine, what always was such impressive,
and amazes till now is junction Nezhdanova’s and Sobinov’s voices.
Sometimes you listen to other, even most beautiful duets,
but none of them comes to their level, their junction.
Staging of three performances 1908 in Spain leaded to real boom to the local audience.
These were Manon, Pearl Fishers and Mephistopheles.
From the letter to his friend Arcady Kerns:
“Till now thought that there is not frightening and
dangerous audience in the world than Milanian;
I heard about Madrid people taste,
but never thought that passion in theatre can be grown till such level;
The only indisputable advantage of the audience, this lack of preconceptions.
At the morning I had enjoyment to read in newspapers, that I’m the winner,
that I’m one of the greatest tenors in the world,
that they have not heard the voice more beautiful than mine; and only flattering things.”;
From Sobinov’s letter to his friends:
“I sang everything as directly as I could, under the dead silence;
one only needed to hear explosion of the applauding.
Today one newspaper wrote that artists can never forget the ovations like these.”
He sang on Encore … and not only in Spain.
Leonid Sobinov felt the breath of the time as no one else.
When he gave concerts in Petersburg during student’s demonstrations and revolution,
he always was writing to his friends with the huge pain;
during the WWI, he arraigned the hospital at his flat for the wounded.
His sisters were helping him in this, including younger sister, Anya,
who came to Moscow to him after graduating Yaroslavl gymnasia.
Irina Gribova(Sobinov’s niece): And she lived there; then she entered University,
mathematical department, but she could not managed to graduate it,
because she had to help Leonid Vitalievich, she had to do much work at home.
After October Revolution, new government appoints Sobinov as a manager
and lately commissar of the Bolshoi theatre.
The hardest time comes to the soloist of the past Emperor theatres.
There are crowd of Reds on the streets, fire is raging, and houses are burning,
lots of the theaters destroyed… Leonid Sobinov with his wife
(he already married with his new wife, Nina Mukhina), leaving to Kiev.
He sings a lot; he fills the halls at the performances.
The letter to his friends, 1918, Kiev: “I’m singing
for Soldiers and workers in circus for a daytime;
Everything is quite well… but we have to think hard for the future.
We live modestly, and Nina, I choose our bed room, put samovar … ”.
Leonid Vitalievich feels as if that something wrong will happen in his life.
His friends are calling him to Europe, to the theatres where he was shining …
there nothing threaten for his future. But it pulling like a magnet to the Crimea,
where in the White Army serves his two sons from first marriage.
While the boys grew up without his great attention,
the relationship with his children he did not lose ever.
And Sobinov hopes that he can get agreement with the new government.
Unfortunately, the news did not take long time to come.
Leonid Sobinov becomes to know that his youngest son has been died.
Alla Anosovskaya: Yura died very early, as youth, at the age of 20.
The wounds he received at Melitopol.
His death had broken Leonid Vitalievich.
He could not accept this, could not accept this loss.
The youngest son painted pictures, wrote poetry and prose.
Sobinov wrote: “The only thing which can allow me to go through
this is presence of my little daughter Svetlanochka.
This is the only happiness in my life, and I had to work and work for this.
Boris left, and only God knows where he is and when I’ll see him again.
Alla Anosovskaya: Only three years later he learned that finally Boris emigrated.
He went with Baron Wrangler, then they were in Turkey
and these three years we do not know anything and probably we will not become to know.
In 1923, when the letter arrived, it become clear that he lives in Berlin,
he graduated High Music School, and he became a brilliant pianist,
and a very interesting and very bright composer.
In 1931, by approval of Soviet government, by help of the Commissar of Education –
Anatoli Lunacharski, Sobinov goes to European tour.
Boris Sobinov, Leonid Vitalievich’s oldest son,
takes on himself preparations for the performances. Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Germany …
there is warmest meetings everywhere.
Father and son present their own creativities.
Boris writes music on the Leonid Vitalievich’s poetry.
In France Sobinov sings for the Moscow and Petersburg Aristocrats,
who appear there as emigrants. Meeting with their idol excites their hearts.
Ivan Kozlovsky: Like he loved to say: “U Sobinogo
nechego Osobennogo(Sobinov has nothing special )”.
It’s not really like this. Be the personification of the era, it must convince.
And Sobinov urged, with his singing, with personal charm and first of all with his timbre.
Singer gets his power to return to Bolshoi Theatre.
He proves to everyone and especially to himself that he needed a new Russia,
and he is needed to his family. He respected his people.
Nina Mukhina’s house was always opened for guests.
Irina Gribova(Sobinov’s niece): There always were a lot of guests in this house.
And when we, with our mother were coming, then his secretary, Lina Konstantinovna,
was saying to him:”Liona, Niuta with her daughters came”.
And Leonid Vitalich run to us very quickly and grasps us. We were very small, very shy …
and there were such many people. We were hiding. He pulled us;
put us on his knees, and said: “Call me father liona, I’m your Godfather”.
In this house on Christmas tree were a lot of children.
The Christmas tree was very beautiful; all children dressed in different costumes.
Mariana Beljanchikova(Sobinov’s niece): Ded Moroz(Santa Claus)
always appeared in costume and with Snegurochka(Snow Maiden).
He was with a bag and in this bag, of course,
there were all kinds of sweets, caps, and so on …
Svetlana Sobinova(daughter, recorded in 1983):
Of course, this house is very important for me.
All my childhood went in this house and the most precious were when I was near my father.
The house was always filled with the guests.
His friends always were coming, colleagues, there
always were coming to take his advice, to learn.
The most precious guest was, who my father loved very much,
he loved her as a person, and like his stage partner.
This is a photo of Antonina Vasilievna Nezhdanova, which was always in this room,
and Antonina Vasilievna had his photo in her room as well.
Konstantin Stanislavsky invited Sobinov to lead the new musical theatre with him.
Sobinov was filled with hopes. “I need little treatment, because the heart play tricks”,
said Sobinov, and Sobinov’s family goes to Marine Barnov(?).
Irina Gribova(Sobinov’s niece): It was 1934 when
we saw him last time at the railway station.
We came to seeing him off. He was presented a lot of flowers.
One fan presented a rose, a luxurious rose, and she placed it here, in the pocket.
It was very exciting; Leonid Vitaljevich stands with hat, smiling, happy …
They were not destined to meet again.
Sobinov wrote letters to friends, to Stanislavsky, that he is getting better.
Their last destination was Riga. And there, at the evening of 15 October, 1934, Sobinov died.
The crowd of thousands of people farewells him in Latvia,
and the train is already ready to leave to Moscow.
Alla Anosovskaya: Was given the command to leave
the office and follow the railway station.
Svetlana engulfed the group and said: "I’ll not allow leaving while Boris will not come”.
And they waited him. Boris accomplished them till the Soviet borders …
They offered him to stay, but he decided not to do this.
But as it often happens, you cannot hide from your fate.
Difficulties were waiting for Leonid Sobinov’s eldest son.
Many year lately, when he met Soviet army in Berlin, in 1945,
was secretly brought to Moscow and sent to Stalin's camps for 10 years.
But his father, Leonid Sobinov will never become to know about this.