Lemeshev Sergei


Sergei Lemeshev was born on July 10, 1902 in the village of Staroye Knyazevo, Tver province (Kalinin region) in a poor peasant family.

In 1914, he graduated from the parochial school, then for some time he learned shoemaking in St. Petersburg. He finished secondary school in Tver in 1918. He mastered the framework of musical notation and singing in art and craft school, where he participated in amateur performances and concerts, and received a referral to study at the conservatory. The young singer managed to become a student, although the entry was large- more than 500 applications were submitted for 25 places. At the conservatory, Lemeshev joined the class of Nazariy Raysky, a famous vocal teacher.

The singer considered the Bolshoi Theater to be his second university. There he heard the performance of Fyodor Chaliapin and Leonid Sobinov, whom he admired: “Leonid Vitalievich Sobinov had a unique, inherent manner of sound formation. <…> And this gave a special charm to his singing ", Lemeshev wrote later. The first solo concert of S. Lemeshev took place in 1924 on the stage of the Russian Institute of Theater Arts. The same year, Lemeshev was admitted to the opera studio of Konstantin Stanislavsky.

In 1925, Lemeshev graduated from the Conservatory. At the final exam, he sang two parts - Count Vaudemont from the opera "Iolanta" by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Lensky. Before long the singer was invited to Sverdlovsk to sing in the Opera Theater named after Anatoly Lunacharsky (today - the Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theater). The director promised all major parts to the young singer and Sergei Lemeshev accepted the invitation. He had been working in Sverdlovsk for about a year, then he sang for two seasons at the Russian Opera in Harbin, and in 1929-1931, he sang at the Tiflis Opera and Ballet Theater. The prominent opera bass Alexander Pirogov saw him and advised the young singer to have a chance at the Bolshoi Theater. In 1931, Lemeshev debuted at the Bolshoi Theater stage as Tsar Berendey in the opera “The Snow Maiden” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. After this performance, he was enlisted in the troupe.  For many years, the singer was one of the primo tenors in the Bolshoi Theater. During this time, Lemeshev performed many roles: Duke in “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi, Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” (opera in five acts by Charles Gounod ), Faust in the opera “Faust” by Charles Gounod, Levko in the opera “May Night” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. However, the singer's best part was the role of Lensky in “Eugene Onegin”. This role brought him well knowingness and adoration of the audience. “Lensky filled my life entirely,” the singer wrote. “Among my more than thirty roles, this one is the dearest, beloved, and the utmost satisfaction of my creative work”. He sang this part 501 times. The singer starred in the movie for the first and last time in 1939. He played the role of driver Petya Govorkov in the movie "The Musical Story".

Despite the success of the film, Sergei Lemeshev never took part in movies again. He used to say, "Participating in a movie is not the same as in the theater performance, you can change nothing here". The regular staff of the Bolshoi Theater was evacuated to Kuibyshev when the Great Patriotic War began, however, Lemeshev, Sergei Obukhov, Elena Katulskaya and Elena Stepanova remained in Moscow. Lemeshev performed with the front-line brigades. During one of those performances, he caught bad cold, and his lung tuberculosis became acute. The disease progressed, thus his right lung was amputated. However, he persisted in developing his breath and voice, and over time, doctors allowed him to perform at the stage. It was a special heroism - the heroism of not a single self-sacrifice, hence many years of mastering and overcoming oneself, the struggle with weakness and pain. By 1957, Lemeshev stopped touring, but periodically returned to the Bolshoi Theater stage – through to 1965. He committed to producing and pedagogics: he headed the Chair of opera training and Chair of solo singing at the Moscow Conservatory, ran programs on the All-Union Radio and was the Radio Vocal Band leader.

The singer gave the jubilee concert in 1972. Despite the heat, diseased lungs and recent heart attack, Lemeshev sang his favorite role for the last, the 501st time - the part of Lensky. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Sergei Lemeshev died on June 26, 1977. The opera singer was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery.

Ref.: https://biographe.ru/znamenitosti/sergey-lemeshev
Кино-Театр. РУ https://www.kino-teatr.ru/kino/acter/sov/2464/bio/
С. Я. Лемешев путь к искусству. Москва. «Искусство» 1974.