Barsova Valeriya

Vladimirova Kaleriya Vladimirovna -- Soviet and Russian opera singer (lyrico-coloratura soprano)
People's Artist of the USSR. Soloist of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Moscow.
Public figure. Teacher, laureate of the Stalin Prize

Kaleriya Vladimirova was born in Astrakhan in the family of a chapel on 13 June 1892. "I don't remember my father. I was barely a year old when he died," said Valeriya Vladimirovna. - Our whole family became dependent on my elder sister. I went to grammar school, music school, and performed in amateur productions and concerts...". At the age of 17, the graduate of the music school and grammar school with a certificate of "home teacher" chose the line of a musician and left her hometown.

In 1919, Valeria graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in two classes at once: piano and solo singing. She studied with her older sister, professor of the conservatory Maria Vladimirova. In her student years, she already sang on the professional stage in several Moscow theaters. She was a diligent student of Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. She first appeared on the opera stage in 1917 in Moscow. The meeting on the opera stage with Fyodor Chaliapin (she substituted for the diseased A.V. Nezhdanova in the summer season of 1919 at the Hermitage Theater) was also of considerable importance in establishing the aesthetic principles that Valeria firmly adhered to.

Since 1920, Valeria Barsova was a soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre.

At the same time, in 1920-1924, she sang at the Opera Studio of the Bolshoi Theater under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavsky and Musical Studio of the Moscow Art Theater under the direction of Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. Barsova sang with Leonid Sobinov, who played the role of Romeo in 1924-925. It was easy for her to sing and perform with him, since they were both excellent actors. Later, Sergey Lemeshev became her permanent partner.

In April 1937, she sang Lyudmila in the Bolshoi Theatre's new production of Ruslan and Lyudmila, and in February 1939, she appeared in the first Soviet revival of Ivan Susanin. These are "key" roles in the Russian repertoire, which does not exclude the outstanding role of Barsova in creating many other operatic roles that she sang at the Bolshoi Theatre. These, above all, were the images from the operas by Rimsky-Korsakov – the snow maiden, the Volkhova, the Swan-Princess and the Shamakhan queen. The heart-piercing and at the same time full of amazing purity and femininity tragic image of Marfa from “The Tsar's Bride” crowns this series of the singer's achievements in the Russian operatic classics. The performances of Barsova were notable for their particular artistry and sincerity of feeling. With her beautiful, agile voice and filigree vocal technique, she masterly combined the singing quality of the Russian vocal school with the Italian bel canto school. She also became famous as a chamber singer.

Concert performances of Barsova were distinguished not only by the freshness of the repertoire but also by the elaborateness of the programmes. Particularly interesting in this respect were the concerts of the 30s-40s, which reflected the musical wealth of the USSR peoples, in particular arias from national operas. Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, English, Scottish, Irish, Norwegian, Spanish and Greek folk songs were of the similar interest (as well as Italian arias from operas by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi). The singer could find her own attire and method of presentation for each of these and reveal their national character.

The singer was one of the first to create thematically structured programs. Such was one of her first independent concerts in the House of the Unions, dedicated to "Dance in Vocal Music".

Valeria Barsova received the title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1937. The following year her husband, K.K. Barsov, head of the bacteriological laboratory, was arrested and shot. She never married again.

In addition to her busy stage life, Valeria Barsova was active in public and political life. In 1940, she became a member of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and was elected a deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet of the first convocation.

In severe time of the Great Patriotic War, the singer repeatedly sang for the soldiers at the front line and for the wounded in the hospitals. On April 16, 1947, Valeriya said farewell to the Bolshoi Theatre and left for Sochi. There she built a summerhouse with the intention of opening an opera and singing studio. Since 1947, for twenty years Barsova often visited the hospitable southern city, lived there for several months a year and took an active part in the social and cultural life of the resort, simultaneously engaged in vocal and pedagogical activities. Friends, colleagues and pupils - Galina Ulanova, Ivan Kozlovsky, Leonid Utesov, Dmitry Kabalevsky, Maria Bieșu and Zara Dolukhanova - were her frequent guests.
From 1950 to 1953, Barsova taught at the Moscow State Conservatoire named after Tchaikovsky.

People's Artist of the USSR, the USSR State Prize winner Valeriya Barsova died on December 13, 1967 and was buried in the old Sochi cemetery. In 2007, a memorial was unveiled on the grave of the prominent Soviet singer.