March 6, 1886 - August 14, 1961
Nadezhda Obukhova was born in the noble family of great antiquity in one of the mansions near Moscow's Prechistenka. Everybody in the family was fond of music. Obukhova recalled, “My early childhood passed down in the country. We - my sister, brother and I, lived with our father and grandfather. My mom died when I was two years old". The maternal grandfather Adrian Mazuraki, who raised Nadezhda, was, according to the memoirs of his contemporaries, a prominent musician; he was on friendly terms with the great Russian pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. They often played duets. The grandfather commitment to music was extremely important the for the future singers - Nadezhda and her sister Anya. The cult of music reigned in his house. The grandfather played music himself and taught his granddaughters to sing and play the piano. Happy life in the prosperous estate, Russian nature, the singing of peasants, musical lessons - all this was cut short - Nadia was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and Mazuraki with his granddaughters left for Nice. Cheerful nature of Italian and French Riviera became homelike to Obukhova. It gave her a lot of life experiences and musical impressions. The treatment was paralleled with training. The sisters perfectly mastered French and Italian. The apprentice of Pauline Viardot - Madame Lippmann, taught them singing. Nevertheless, she mistakenly specified the voice of N. Obukhova as a soprano, almost straining it. In 1906, the grandfather unexpectedly died and the sisters had to return to Moscow. In the capital, the singer continued her music lessons and in 1907, she became a student of the Moscow Conservatory. She entered the class under the famous music teacher Umberto Masetti that had a peculiar ability for discovering future celebrities. Antonina Nezhdanova, the first Russian female opera singer, was his student ten years earlier.
Unfortunately, in the summer of 1908, Nadezhda had to drop her studies because of illness. She went to Sorrento for treatment, and returned only in a year. Obukhova began her concert activity. The Conservatory puritanical regulations forbade students to perform under their own names. Obukhova broke fresh ground to the future fame under the stage name "Madam Andreeva". Nezhdanova heard her singing in one of those concerts. The young singer fascinated her. Later she became her true friend for many years. Wonderful career was awaiting for Obukhova while she was studying in the Conservatory thanks to her exceptional voice, her high efficiency and patronage of Nezhdanova.
Obukhova was enrolled in the stage company of the Bolshoi Theater. Her first performance was the role of Paulina in “The Queen of Spades” by Tchaikovsky on February 5, 1916, and it was a great success. Obukhova became one of the first opera stars in the Bolshoi Theater Opera Company. In the 1916-1917 season she sings the leading roles in 12 operas - “Aida”, “Eugene Onegin”, “Samson and Delilah”, “Sadko”, “The Tsar's Bride”, “The Snow Maiden” among them.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was the favorite composer of Obukhova. His operas, very convenient for the voice, appealed to the singer. On November 18, 1916, she performed in “The Tsar's Bride” as Lyubasha. Later this role became one of her favorite ones.
During the years of the proletarian revolution, she was alien to the new authorities. All of her closest relatives were dignitaries of the former Russian elite. Fortunately, the "non-proletarian" origin did not affect the life and career of Obukhova. She was among many prominent artists that quickly joined the new cultural life of post-revolutionary Russia.
On November 2, 1918, Nadezhda Obukhova, together with Antonina Nezhdanova, Ivan Petrov and Leonid Sobinov, participated in the grandiose concert, where “The Poem of Ecstasy” by Alexander Scriabin and “The Ninth Symphony” by Ludwig van Beethoven were performed. Anatoly Lunacharsky delivered a welcome address before the concert. The Soviet government favored the bygone empire treasure - the Bolshoi Theater and turned it into the international sign of the new epoch with the time.
Nadezhda Obukhova worked at the Bolshoi Theater for almost fifty years. Over the years of her work here, she sang in more than twenty operas, performing almost all roles of the classical repertoire. Only during the First World War did Obukhova interrupt her performances, since she and her husband, the artillery officer, went off to war. After the death of her husband, the singer did not marry for the second time.
On March 2, 1928, Nadezhda Obukhova was awarded with the title of the Honored Artist of the Republic; on October 20, 1933, – the People's Artist of the RSFSR, and on June 2, 1937, - she became the People's Artist of the USSR and the holder of the Order of Lenin. In 1951, Obukhova received the State Stalin prize and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.
Opera parts performed by Obukhova became the classical. The power and energy of the Russian woman stage images from the operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Modest Mussorgsky, Petr Tchaikovsky, as well as the images of the antithetical orientation, created by Nadezhda Obukhova - is in their vocalism, initially musical and at the same time extremely dramatic, although the dramatism of them is deeply peculiar and creatively different in its expression. The singer practically never copied the established clichés and striving to find new shades in traditional roles. Thus, working at the role of Carmen, which Maria Maksakova sang prior to her, she practically changed the role entire concept and made it so cogently that the opera-producing director changed the basic stage setting for her. To play this role, The actress studied in ballet class for several months to play this role and later the critics called her Carmen "the most dancing one." Neither the audience nor even her scenic partners believed that the actress was 44 years old at that time. Obukhova left the Bolshoi Theater stage in 1943, being at the peak of her artistic talent. She devoted herself entirely to concert activities. Moreover, Nadezhda Obukhova practically never repeated the program of her concerts.
Obukhova performed her last concert in honor of her mentor and close friend Antonina Nezhdanova at her house in connection with the anniversary of the prominent singer death. After that concert, she went on vacation to Feodosia and passed away suddenly there. She was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy cemetery.
References: Nadezhda Andreevna Obukhova / A. Anisimov – 1st
- Moscow: Art, 1953. - 15 p. - (the USSR Bolshoi Theater).
O. Loginova. Nadezhda Andreevna Obukhova. Memories. Articles. Materials / I.F. Belza. – 1st - Moscow: All-Russian Theater Society, 1970.- 320 p.
Russian singers. 1750-1917: Dictionary / AM Pruzhansky – 2nd edition, corrected and supplemented - M., 2008.