Friday, 2 August 2013

Feoder Chaliapin as a "revolutionary leader" in Russia in 1905

On this early 20th century photograph you can see the Russian opera bass singer Feodor Chaliapin (third from the right) talking to writer Maxim Gorky (third from the left). According to the Swedish news magazine Allers Familj-Journal, which published the picture in March 1905, Gorky and his "closest friends" - in addition to Chaliapin, from left to right, writers Skitalets, Andreyev, Chelekov, Chirikov and Bunin - "are the young men everybody is talking about in Russia."

The Swedish magazine described the young men as "the leaders of the modern and literary revolutionary party, from which the great movement has sprung, which has caused the foundations of the mighty Russian Empire to shake."

"The bass singer Chaliapin is one of the most popular singers in Russia. He has a permanent contract with the  Imperial Opera in Moscow, which pays him huge fees for his appearances. This winter he was on leave from the opera, and performed in Nice, where he received rapturous cheering from the international Riviera audience."

Even if Chaliapin was some kind of a "revolutionary" in 1905, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 led to a disarray in his personal life, and after 1921 he never returned to Russia, although he still maintained that he was not anti-Soviet. 

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