Nadezhda Obukhova - Biography
Nadezhda Obukhova (1886 - 1961) was the Soviet singer, mezzo-soprano, soloist with the Bolshoi Theater. Stalin Prize winner, People's Artist of the USSR.
Those who have ever head her singing alive were enchanted by both unique, exuberant 'mezzo', reaching naturally contralto, the beauty, grace and the manner of singing as if she was sharing her soul with the public. Pianist Heinrich Neuhaus said that "he who even once hears her voice, will never forget it..."
Obukhova came from an artistic family. Two of her uncles were professional singers, one of whom was the opera director of the Bolshoi Theatre. Her grandfather Adrian Mazaraki was a noted pianist, and her great-grandfather Yevgeny Boratinsky was a poet of some fame.
Recalling her childhood memories Nadezhda Obukhova said she began to sing as early as she remembered herself and was always touched by sad Russian songs about hard fate of a Russian woman. This was her grandfather who taught her singing and playing the piano and when she was 12 Nadia could play Chopin, Gaidn and Mozart.
Nadezhda's mother died of tuberculosis when little Nadya was only 2. Her grandfather was concerned about Nadezhda's health and often sent her and her sister to spend winters in Nice, France, where Obukhova received her first singing lessons from Eleanora Lipman and professor Ozerov. There she got her first impressions of art and musical life of France, first visited the opera and heard famous Fyodor Shalyapin during his foreign tour.
In 1907, Obukhova was enrolled at the Moscow Conservatory, where she was instructed by Umberto Masetti. After her graduation, she found work singing in various concerts around Russia, but she did not make her operatic debut until 1916. Her operatic debut was in the role of Pauline in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades at the Bolshoi. She quickly became a popular singer, appearing in a number of other productions including Carmen, Dalila, The Tsar's Bride (as Marfa and as Lyubasha), The Snow Maiden, Der Ring des Nibelungen (as Fricka), Marina, Love for Three Oranges and Sadko.
Nadezhda Obukhova performed more then 25 roles at the Bolshoi theatre, each of which became a precious part of Russian vocal and theatrical art. Her performances were full of deep feelings and emotive expressivity and her female characters were interpreted with great tenderness and passion. Nadezhda Obukhiova was said to be singing the true meaning of composer's intentions and used her magnificent voice and musical artistry as a key to unlock the mysteries of the heart.