Ivan Danilovich Jadan (September9, 1902 – February 15, 1995) was a Soviet opera singer, that possessed a beautiful lyrical tenor, soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre, Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1937), Knight of the Order of “Badge of Honor” (1937)
Ivan Jadan was born into the family of an ammunition factory worker. From the age of 9, the boy lived in the village, where his parents sent him to master a profession of blacksmith. Ivan's love for singing was already evident in his childhood. He sang in the church choir and at weddings. In 1920, the young boy joined a choir circle, participated in amateur opera performances. There he met his future wife Olga.
In 1923, Jadan was sent to Moscow to study music. In the capital he entered the Musical Training School under Conservatory, where he became a pupil of the famous singer Maria Deisha-Sionitskaya, and later entered the class of Professor Yegor Yegorov. Life in the dormitory was difficult, there was not enough money even for food, and the young student began to work part-time at first unloading wood from barges on the Moskva River, then he managed to get a job in the workshops of the Air Fleet Academy as a blacksmith-striker, then as a blacksmithing instructor, where the future prominent Soviet aeronautical engineer Alexander Yakovlev was his pupil. Jadan was especially proud of this page of his life.
After graduating from the technical school, Jadan took part in a tenor selection contest; out of forty applicants, he was the only one, accepted into the Bolshoi Theatre repertory company. This is how his brilliant singing career began in 1927. Brilliant artistic talent of Ivan Jadan and his charming voice quickly brought him all-union fame. Lensky in “Eugene Onegin”, the Duke in “Rigoletto”, Faust in the opera of the same name by Gounod, the Indian guest in” Sadko”....
The role of Lensky became the singer's trademark, invariably brought the audience to their feet. Alongside his performances in the theatre, the singer travelled extensively around the country and gave patronage concerts in the army. With a group of Soviet singers (Valeria Barsova, Maria Maksakova, Panteleimon Nortsov, Alexander Pirogov and others) he made a tour to Turkey in 1935. Turkish newspapers were full of enthusiastic comments about the singer. The first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, became an admirer of the singer’s talent and presented him during one of full-dress receptions with his personalised gold cigarette case, which Jadan kept as a special relic. Fame finally comes to the opera singer. He is one of the leading soloists at the Bolshoi Theatre, repeatedly performs in the Kremlin. Despite his fame, Jadan was easy to deal with, loved and remembered his fellow countrymen and invited them to his concerts. In addition to opera arias, his repertoire included many folk songs and romances. Discs with recordings of his voice were issued in large numbers.
The pinnacle of his creative success can be called 1937. He became an Honored Artist of the RSFSR and was awarded the Order of “Badge of Honour”. The singer refused to join the Communist party. The same year, during the Pushkin Days, he was invited to Riga for the performance of "Eugene Onegin" with the participation of three tenors: in the first act of Lensky's aria "I love you..." performed Jadan, in the second act – "In your house..." – Lemeshev, in the third act – "Where, where have you gone..." – Kozlovsky. The audience gave Jadan a standing ovation. He was pleaded to extend his tour and to perform also in “Faust” and “Rigoletto”. Since there were no costumes for these roles, the Soviet ambassador to Latvia sent a special plane to Moscow (an amazing case for those years) to deliver them to Riga. After some time this ambassador will disappear, then the friend of Jadan, the director of the Bolshoi Theatre Vladimir Mutnykh, will be arrested. The singer's planned tours in Lithuania and Estonia will also be cancelled. He will no longer be invited to sing in the Kremlin.
Jadan's career peaked in 1937. In the days of Alexander Pushkin's memory he was invited to Riga, where there was a production of "Eugene Onegin" with the participation of three tenors: in the first act Lensky's aria "I love you... " performed Ivan Jadan, in the second - the aria "In your house..." Sergei Lemeshev, in the third aria "Where have you gone..." – Ivan Kozlovsky. The tour was held with such a furore that Jadan was asked to extend them and perform also in "Faust" and "Rigoletto". Since there were no costumes for these roles, the Soviet ambassador to Latvia sent a special plane to Moscow and they were delivered to Riga. After that, the ambassador disappeared somewhere, then Jadan's friend, the organiser of the tour, the director of the Bolshoi Theatre Vladimir Mutnykh, was arrested. The singer's planned tours to Lithuania and Estonia were cancelled. He was no longer invited to the Kremlin and his concert rate was reduced. He was left with only two roles at the Bolshoi.
It is difficult to say what fate further prepared the artiste, but then the war intervened. The whole family moves to the dacha in Manikhino, where the singer built a house with his own hands. He thought it would be safer here. Many artists lived in this place. Soon the Germans took over the village. That meant being in occupied territory! Ivan Danilovich was not a naive man. He knew that it meant one thing - a camp (at best). So he and his wife and youngest son, together with a group of artists (13 people) decided to leave with the Germans.
The artist's "second" life began. Wandering with the Germans, hunger and cold, suspicions of espionage, which almost led to a firing squad. And finally, the American occupation sector, where the singer and his family found themselves at the moment of the German surrender.
In 1948, the family received permission to enter the USA. Unfortunately, Jadan's singing career failed in America. He was organised several concerts in New York. They were warmly received by the public. In a review of these concerts, published in Time magazine, wrote: "He sang with such lyrical warmth and so expressive that he reminded me very much of the great Caruso". But American impresarios did not want to deal with a former displaced person from Germany. There was not enough money to live on, so Jadan took any job he could get.
In 1951, he married for the second time to American Doris Klabaf. The couple settled on the tiny island of St John in the Virgin Islands, worked as a mason, bought land, built several cottages with his own hands and rented them to American and European tourists.
With the help of his wife, Jadan learnt "The Lord's Prayer". It was first performed at the opening of a public school in 1955, then at the opening of St John's Nazareth Lutheran Church on St John's Island. The last performance took place on this island in 1966. New times were coming in Russia. At the end of the 1980s, contact with my son became possible. In 1990, Ivan Danilovich was also remembered. A programme about him was broadcast on television. And finally, half a century later, Ivan Danilovich Jadan was able to set foot on his native land again, he was in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Ivan Jadan died on 15 February 1995 and is buried in the Cruz Bay Cemetery on the island of Saint John. Almost immediately after the death of her husband, Doris Jadan decided to create a museum of the great Russian tenor of the 20th century. The museum opened its doors on 22 September 1995, the day Ivan Jadan would have been 93 years old. The museum now contains over five thousand exhibits. These are unique collections of video films, books in Russian and English, historical documents and photographs. It should be added that Doris, with the help of Jadan's son Vladimir, managed to find his past recordings and produced compact discs containing Jadan's recordings from 1933 to 1954.