Davydov, Alexander


Born on March 25, 1872, in Kobelyaki. Opera artist (lyric-dramatic tenor), stage director, teacher. Honored Artist of the Republic (1924). Died on June 28, 1944

Alexander Davydov was born in the Poltava region, in the family of a Jewish teacher. At the age of twelve, he left for Kiev, where he started singing in cafes and restaurants. One of the musicians with whom he formed a friendship, Ippolit Pryanishnikov, assisted the young man to enter the Kiev Opera Choir. Since 1889, he had been a soloist of the Kiev Opera House. After studying for two years with Camille Everardi, in 1892, Alexander Davydov debutуed on the Tiflis Opera Theater stage. Then he became interested in operetta and travelled from one city to another, performing in local theaters. From 1892, he sang in Yekaterinoslav, Kharkov and other cities.

In 1900, he debuted at the Mariinsky Theater in the opera part as Herman (“The Queen of Spades”); this was one of the artist's best roles. Smooth voice of a singular mellow timbre, melodious phrasing perfection and exquisite artistic talent distinguished Davydov. He was considered the best Canio ("Pagliacci" by Ruggero Leoncavallo) on the Russian stage, and had a great success in the roles of Sigmund (“Die Walküre” by Richard Wagner), Loge (“The Rhinegold” by Richard Wagner) and many other parts.

Toured in Moscow (Theatre of Gavrila Solodovnikov in 1902; Aquarium in 1906; Bolshoi theatre in 1911), Kiev (1903, 1905, 1909), Budapest (1903), Monte Carlo (1906), Vienna and Paris.

The singer's repertoire was tremendous; it was comprised of the roles in 85 operas and 30 operettas. Among them – Sadko in the Mariinsky Theater production (“Sadko” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov); Nal ("Nal and Damayanti" by Anton Arensky); Mozart (“Mozart and Salieri” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), Mime (“Siegfried” by Richard Wagner); German and Chekalinsky (“The Queen of Spades” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky); Synodal ("The Demon" by Anton Rubinstein); Harlequin ("Pagliacci" by Ruggero Leoncavallo; Tannhäuser ("Tannhäuser" by Richard Wagner); The Pretender (“Boris Godunov” by Modest Mussorgsky); Jose ("Carmen" by Georges Bizet); Loge (“The Rhinegold” by Richard Wagner); Lensky (“Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky); Othello ("Othello" by Giuseppe Verdi) and many others. Davydov, reportedly was the most popular Russian singer of his generation, he made about 400 gramophone records in 1901-1912. In 1909, Sergei Diaghilev invited him to take part in his Russian Seasons in Paris.

The singer was popular as a performer of Russian songs and "gypsy" romances, preeminently by Alexander Alyabyev, Nikolai Bakaleinikov, Vasily Wrangel, Yakov Prigozhiy, Nikolai Zubov and Mikhail Steinberg. Davydov himself was writing songs. His well-known compositions were the romances "Move away, don't look" and "Why?" Sometimes it was named according to refrain, "You will not be wrested from me") to the lyrics of the unknown author. Anastasia Vyaltseva introduced this romance in her repertoire.

Davydov was the head of the Russian branch of the Edison Kinetophone film company in 1914-1915. The company produced experimental sound films. 37 films of this company were released; some of them were the episodes from operas in which Davydov performed arias ("Eugene Onegin", "Mazepa", "The Queen of Spades" etc.).

In 1914, due to the developing deafness, Davydov was forced to quit opera, but continued to perform, singing popular songs and romances. In 1924, he left for France and was invited by Fyodor Chaliapin to become the artistic director of his opera troupe.
In 1935, Davydov returned to the USSR. In the years that followed, he taught vocalism at the Mariinsky Theater (then known as the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater). He published the memoirs about Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Fyodor Chaliapin, as well as about many other musicians and composers that he knew. Alexander Davydov died in Moscow on June 28, 1944.
Davydov was married to Sofya Davydova (1874-1958). She was this accompanier, rugged and sympathetic memoirist, opera theater chronicler of the turn of the centuries. At a certain period, they lived in the former apartment of Anton Rubinstein on the Catherine Canal, 110, not far from the Mariinsky Theater. He died in Moscow in 1944. The cinerary urn was buried in 1946 at the Literatoskie Mostki of the Volkov Cemetery.

1. Davydov, Alexander Mikhailovich // Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additional). - SPb., 1890-1907.
2. Biography.ru
3. Russian portrait gallery