Dneprov, Mitrofan


Mitrofan Ivanovich Dneprov - comic opera artist (baritone). Born in Usman in a poor, religious, multi-child family. From early age, the boy sang at home in the evenings. It were prayers and spiritual songs. When he was seven years old, the church choir precentor accepted Mitrofan in the choir as the first descant, thus the boy began performing as a soloist. At the age of 19, the voice of Mitrofan matured in in lyric baritone, became a singer of the monastery choir and was enlisted in the regency courses. A year later, he received the title of choirmaster of the second grade. In parallel, he studied at the opera courses of Osip Osipovich Bestrikh in 1900-1906. He performed in student performances (under the pseudonym Zagrebin). He sang opera parts as well.

Young singer signed his first contract in the fall of 1907. It was the contract with the famous conductor and entrepreneur A.A. Tonny for the winter season in Kharkov. In 1907, Dneprov debuted in the part of Marquis de Corneville ("Les cloches de Corneville“ (The Bells of Corneville) by Jean Robert Planquette. Since that time, he performed only in operettas, under the pseudonym Dneprov. Of course, people from various society strata became artists, but coming to the stage, moreover, to the stage of the comic opera theater directly from the monastery novices, was a rare occurrence. In 1923, Mitrofan Dneprov appeared at the Moscow stage, in the Moscow Operetta Association, since 1924 - in the "New Operetta Theater". He participates in the first Soviet repertoire performances.

In 1927-1930 and 1939-1951 M. Dneprov served in Moscow Operetta Theater. For six years - from 1933 to 1939 - he toured with the group of concert performers, practically all over the entire Soviet Union. Promotion and mainstreamification of the best examples of works of classical operetta were centerpiece of Dneprov creative work. The attitude towards this genre changed during the period of the artist's stage activity. M/ Dneprov invariably won the audience attention by the charm of his stage heroes - Count Danilo (“The Merry Widow” by Franz Lehar), Mister Iks (“The Circus Princess” by Emmerich Kálmán), Piquillo (“La Périchole” by Jacques Offenbach), Martin-mine-foreman (“The Mine Foreman” by Carl Zeller), heroes-simpletons from the operettas “The Count of Luxembourg” and “Sylva”. The artist always retained good taste while performing, not confusing comedic, entertaining, genre "volubility" with vulgarity. He liked music created by Franz Lehar, Emmerich Kálmán and Jacques Offenbach and managed to convey this love to the public. His art added feeling of joy, for which the artist got the name of "the sunny baritone".

During the Great Patriotic War, the theater was relocated, but Mitrofan Dneprov stayed in Moscow. He participated in the concerts in hospitals, moved out to military units with other artists. He wrote in his book "Half-century in operetta art" - "I am from that cohort of artists who have fully perceived all difficulties of an operetta actor in the bourgeois environment; I am from that army of artists who, at random, single-handedly fought against the vulgarity and bad taste in operetta; I am from the tribe that knew that every step forward ought to be taken through struggle”. These words are not just a quote from the book written in the epoch of socialism, they are the evidence of absolute devotion to the operetta genre. In 1946-1947, M. Dneprov worked at the Pyatigorsk Theater, where he staged “The Wedding in Malinovka” by Boris Alexandrov as well as “Sylva” and “La Bayadère” by Emmerich Kálmán. 

In 1951, when Dneprov was 70 years old, he was still performing. Ivan Kozlovsky, Aleksandra Yablochkina and Leonid Utesov congratulated him on his birthday. Mitrofan Ivanovich Dneprov was awarded with the title "Honored Artist of the RSFSR". The artist passed in 1966.

Ref.: Half a century in operetta [memoirs] / M.I. Dneprov. - M.: Art, 1961 .-- 169 p.