Reizen Mark


Mark Osipovich Reizen was born on July 3, 1895 in the village of Nikitovka, Bakhmutsky district, Yekaterinoslav province. His father Osip Matveyevich owned a coal warehouse at a nearby railway station. The family was fond of music; children played various musical instruments - mandoline, balalaika, guitar and accordion. During the First World War of 1914-1917, the future singer served at the Finnish Rifle Regiment, was wounded twice and was decorated with two St. George's Crosses. While at the battlefield, Reizen organized a group of balalaika players in his squadron and played mandoline himself. After the second battel injury and demobilization in June 1917, he entered Kharkov Institute of Technology. Hence, one of his friends, without his permission, put his name down for admission tests at the Kharkov Conservatory. Moreover, Mark admitted to the class of Professor Federico Bugamelli. At the conservatory, the young singer studied so successfully that half a year after entering he was he was promoted to the second course, in spring - to the third, and at the fall of 1918 - to the fourth one.

He was a soloist at the Kharkov Opera House from 1921 to 1925. Since 1925, Mark was singing on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. He was considered a successor of the Russian singing tradition that was formed by Feodor Chaliapin. As asserted, he was a strapper and had remarkable vocal range. His voice was unique – of great volume, flexible, mellow, with soft timbre; it was voice of comprehensive vocal range - from great octave F (very low note) to A-flat of one line-octave. The enunciation of Mark Reizen was perfect.

Naturally, such a brilliant performer was soon noticed in the capital, and was invited for a tour. Immediately after his performance, Stalin said that excuses were not accepted, and from now on, Mark Osipovich would sing at the Bolshoi Theatre stage.

Since 1930, the whole life of the great singer was connected with the Bolshoi theatre stage. He received three Stalin Prizes (in 1941, 1949, and 1951), three Orders of Lenin (in 1937, 1951, and 1976), the title of the People's Artist of the USSR (1937), the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1955), the Order of Peoples' Friendship (1985).

Reizen had been serving at Bolshoi Theater for 25 years. His great timbrally rich voice enrapture the audience. Moreover, his bass-cantante (lyric bass) with strong deep bottom notes, allowed him to perform wide-ranging repertoire. The roles in the classical Russian opera repertoire were the base of his artistic achievements. His creative highlights were Boris in the opera "Boris Godunov" and Dosifey in "Khovanshchina" by Modest Mussorgsky. Feeling that his voice was beginning its tremolo, since 1954, the singer turned to teaching at the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music, and from 1965 to 1970, he headed the department of solo singing at the Moscow Conservatory. However, after a few years he realised that his voice regained its former beauty and strength, and returned to the operatic stage.

In 1985, in honor of his 90th anniversary, the Bolshoi Theatre administration decided to stage Eugene Onegin. When Mark Osipovich was informed about this and politely asked if he would be able to sit in the theater box during the entire performance, they received a stunning answer, “I will not be able to sit in a box because I prefer to sing!” And he sang the part of Prince Gremin, getting into the Guinness Book of Records.

Mark Reizen toured abroad, gave many concerts, participated in front-line concert brigades during the Great Patriotic War, he became famous as the outstanding performer of songs and romances.

During his long career, the singer took part in audio recordings of 11 operas and starred in three musical films.

Mark Reizen died on November 25, 1992 at the age of 97. The legendary singer and teacher was buried at the Vvedenskoye cemetery in Moscow.