Leonova, Dar’ia Mikhailovna
Born Mar. 9 (21), 1829 (according to other data, Mar. 4 , 1834), in Vyshnii Volochek, now in Kalinin Oblast; died Jan. 25 (Feb. 6), 1896, in St. Petersburg. Russian singer (contralto).
Leonova trained at the St. Petersburg Theatrical School and later studied in Berlin and Paris with G. Meyerbeer and D. Auber. After preparation with M. I. Glinka (who rated the singer’s talent highly and dedicated his composition “Prayer” to her), Leonova made her debut at the Imperial Theater in the part of Vania in Ivan Susanin. Between 1851 and 1873 she sang at the Mariinskii Theater in St. Petersburg and at the Bolshoi in Moscow. Leonova’s best roles were Azucena (Il Trovatore by Verdi), Rogneda (Rogneda by Serov), and the Mistress of the Inn (Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky). After retiring from opera, she gave concerts in Russia and abroad.
An outstanding representative of the Russian vocal school, Leonova gave remarkable interpretations of folk songs and the works of contemporary composers, particularly M. P. Mussorgsky. She taught at the school of music that she and Mussorgsky founded in 1880 in St. Petersburg and at the Moscow Theatrical School (1888–92). Leonova was the author of “Reminiscences” (Istoricheskii vestnik 1891, nos. 1–4).