Russian opera singer Boris Geft - under the heading "Desuete Names"
Boris Geft -- singer, lyric tenor. Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1939) was born on November 29, 1902. The future singer graduated from the Odessa and Leningrad Conservatoires. He joined the Maly Opera Theatre in 1928. According to the memoirs of the singer and music historian Sergei Levik, Boris "had been burdened with the entire drama repertoire of the Maly Opera Theatre for twenty-five years". Colleagues particularly noted the singer's large-scale voice. He sang the title role in the operas by Giacomo Puccini and Ruggero Leoncavallo, in “The Tales of Hoffmann” by Jacques Offenbach and took part in premiere productions of contemporary operas – “The Nose” by Dmitry Shostakovich, “The Rebellion” by Leon Khoja-Einatov and “Mother” by Valery Zhelobinsky.
In 1932-1948, Boris Geft regularly participated in philharmonic concerts. On 5 April 1939, he gave his only recital. During the war, the singer was evacuated with the Maly Opera Theatre to Orenburg, where he was introduced to young Mstislav Rostropovich, who had retained fond memories of Boris Geft. The Maly Theatre artists used to take a cellist on tour. Rostropovich recalled with warmth that Boris had a fatherly manner, and “he would come to the corner that I occupied, sitting like a maestro, with his legs crossed, and demanded, "Slava, why don't you play me “Aria” by Bach? When he finished, he would usually say, "Slava! You are a shoemaker! Not a musician! You are supposed to sit and study all day long and you do what? He knew that my cello had no sound, but he insisted that I had to make it sound properly. Such a terrific tyrant”. The great Rostropovich, even in exile, recalled his communication with the singer.
In December 1942, Geft gave concerts in Chelyabinsk: on December 16, in the Operetta Theatre, on December 21, in the Drama Theatre named after Samuel Zwilling. The programme included arias from well-known operas, songs and romances by Soviet composers. The proceeds from the concert went to the Chelyabinsk Komsomolets submarine construction fund. After the war, the singer returned to Leningrad.
The last performances of Boris Geft at the Philharmonic Hall stage had a bearing to “Requiem in E Minor (Messa da Requiem) by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem, performed under the baton of Boris Khaikin on 15 and 16 January, 1948. In the 1950s, the singer served as artistic director of the Roma Song and Dance Ensemble. Boris Geft died in Leningrad in 1966. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery.