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“He was born in Jaroslavl in 1872, a town about 170 miles north-east of Moscow. His father was a sales representative in flour. His son did very well academically. Interest in music was satisfied by playing the guitar and singing in a local choir. After leaving school he enrolled in Moscow on a course leading to a degree in law. He completed the course in 1894, but by this time he made considerable expererience in a student choir. This included some appearances as its soloist. Nevertheless, his singing did not prevent his academic abilities. He obtained a law degree. After university came military service, compulsory at that time in Russia, and then he began to practice law. He studied with a tenor (Professor Dodonov) but he felt that this teacher was not suceeding in helping over certain problems. He took additional lessons from Alexandra Santagano Gorchakova. Sobinov still the law as his career. His teacher had other ideas and she made him go for an audition at the Bolshoi Theatre. This was in 1897 and brought him a two year contract! He soon was admired for his breath control, mezza-voce and enunciation. He appeared in operas such as Ruslan and Ludmila, Faust, Manon, Prince Igor, Eugene Onegin, Halka, Rigoletto, Tannhäuser (Walter von der Vogelweide) and in Ivanov’s Zabava Putyatishna. Sobinov was very much impressed by Feodor Chaliapin who was two years younger than him. They sang together in an opera in 1899. In the same year he added Andrej (Mazeppa), Gérald (Lakmé) and Germont to his repertoire. After going through the score of Don José he declined taxing the role too dramatic for his voice. The reigning star at the Bolshoi was Nikolai Figner but Sobinov was his equal in every way. To enlarge his repertoire (he added the tenor roles in Martha, Werther, Mignon and Roméo et Juliette) he decided to make several journeys to Italy to hear more of the Italian school.
At the end of 1903 he sang an acclaimed Nadir in Les Pêcheurs des Perles opposite the great Antonina Nezhdanova . In 1904 he made his debut at La Scala as Ernesto (in Italian) receiving great praise from the critics. After a short time as a reservist in the army (Russian-Japanese war in 1905) he first appeared in Manon and Fra Diavolo. At the end of 1906 he sang in Monte Carlo. Lohengrin and Werther were the next roles. He appeared with triumphant success in Madrid and Berlin. His first Lohengrin at the Bolshoi was enthusiastically received, while in St Petersburg the critics compared him to the superb Ivan Ershov. Singing in London and Paris in 1909 he added Levko in Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night and changed the role of Bayan to Finn in Ruslan and Ludmila. After many years of travelling he became a producer (1911). In 1912 he once more appeared at la Scala opposite Lucrezia Bori in Roméo et Juliette, conducted by Tullio Serafin. In the months before the outbreak of Worldwar I Sobinov appeared in a new role, Cavaradossi. Conscripted for military service again in 1914 his contract with the Imperial Opera lapsed. He was charged with organizing concerts for the wounded and for charity. The Revolution gave him a second chance of moving into management. Unlike other Russian artists like Chaliapin, Kuznetsova , Medtner, Rachmaninov and Davidov he elected to stay. When the Red Army gained control, he was given an administrative cultural post in Sevastopol. His last appearance in a concert was in 1921. In the same year he was appointed Director of the Bolshoi but after a view months he resigned to return to a life of opera and concerts. He died of a heart attack in 1934. He was decorated many times: Imperial Court Singer (1910), People’s Artist of the Union of Soviet Republics (1923), Officer of the Red Army (1925) and the Red Labour Banner (1933). “; cantabile-subito.de