Nina Dulkevich - Russian and Soviet singer (mezzo-soprano) that sang romances, gypsy and Russian folk songs "Enchantress in Songs", as Alexander Kuprin called Nina Dulkevich, and in life, she was charitable, kind, attracting people's hearts.
Nina Baburina was born in 1891 on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, in rather poor family. There is no information about the childhood of the future singer. To support her family, Nina worked as a housemaid for the famous gypsy choir artistic director, Nikolai Dulkevich. Once he accidentally overheard Nina crooning to herself while serving a dinner. Nikolai Dmitrievich liked her strong, sonorous and cadence voice of the maid, and without thinking twice, he invited Nina to become a soloist of his choir. Two years later, Nikolai Dulkevich proposed to her. Nina Viktorovna was not a gypsy by origin, but persistent and diligent work on developing her voice by her husband that turned to be a talented teacher and the choir influence made her one of the best gypsy singers. The first reports about the concert activity of Nina Dulkevich date back to 1906. "The Russian-Gypsy Singer" accompanied by two guitars in 1907 sang in the concerts of one of the fashionable St. Petersburg gardens "Aquarium". The first reviews noted the shortcomings of her vocal and acting skills. Hence, Nina Dulkevich was on the track of broadening her repertoire, worked hard. She did not stay in the choir of her husband, she shifted to the gypsy choir of Nikolai Shishkin, which she left soon, as well, starting to perform with solo programs. If the first decent reports about the singer's concert activities date back to 1906-1907, then since 1911, Nina Dulkevich had been singing in the concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg on the regular basis. The concerts were held annually in the Great Pillar Hall of the Noble Assembly of both capitals with a large concourse of people. Alexander Kuprin and Leonid Andreev admired her talent. Purity of sound, artistical temperament combined with heartiness and sincerity, emphatic piano distinguished her singing of old romances and Russian folk songs. “Her chesty, deep voice conveyed the poetry of wild will, of a dark night by a blazing fire, dashing courage and quiet sadness” (“Footlights and Life”. 1912, No. 47). Nina sang the gypsy camp songs with Gypsy choir.
Behind her back, fans called Dulkevich a "white gypsy", for stained notes in her voice, and purely gypsy intonations. Nina Viktorovna worked, as they say, “for wear and tear”. She used to rehearse for eight hours without a break, and performed up to 70 romances and songs at encore concerts. In this, only the "incomparable" Anastasia Vyaltseva could compete with her.
Besides singing, Nina Dulkevich wrote lyrics for several romances, the most famous of which is “How Good Those Eyes Are”.
In 1915-1917, she performed in miniature theaters, toured through the country, gave many charity concerts. She decided to stay in Russia after the Revolution. Concert activities of Nina Dulkevich continued in Soviet times. In 1919, she was among the first to become an artist of the Petrograd Union of Art Workers. Moreover, the press of the new state, for example, the newspaper Commune, dated May 6, 1927, wrote about the singer's performance as follows: “She turns out, stretches out his hands ... and with the first song holds in her hands the audience until the end of the evening, without letting it out. In the 20s, Dulkevich continued to perform her repertoire in miniature theatres in Petrograd, in the early 20s - on summer stages.
Hence, unfortunately, with every year the old romances, to which for some reason were attributed the gypsy ones were more and more subjected to serious criticism. The bias of such statements could not but be reflected in the repertoire of Nina Dulkevich. Since 1927, in her concerts, she sang mostly children's songs, skilfully imitating the voices of boys and girls. Moreover, as noted in various publications, she became one of the pioneers of children's songs genre on the Soviet concert stage. Only occasionally, at the request of her fans, she sang her old repertoire. Only in the early 1930s, the artist again performed a whole program of old romances, proving by this that she had not betrayed her old vocation. Those were the last concerts of the wonderful singer. In 1934, Nina Viktorovna Dulkevich died.
During her lifetime, her voice was recorded on the Pate company records - gipsy songs and romances and Russian folk songs. She was the first to record on the gramophone record the gypsy dance tune "Valenki", which gained fame in the 1940s, performed by Lydia Ruslanova.
She was buried at the Smolensk Orthodox cemetery in St.Petersburg.