Semen Gulak-Artemovskii

Gulak-Artemovskii, Semen Stepanovich


(stage name, S. S. Artemovskii). Born Feb. 4 (16), 1813, in the village of Gorodishche, in present-day Kiev Oblast; died Apr. 5 (17), 1873, in Moscow. Ukrainian and Russian opera singer (baritone), composer, actor, and playwright.

Gulak-Artemovskii studied at the Kiev Seminary and sang from childhood in the church choirs of the Kiev Metropolia; he later sang in the chorus of the Kiev vicar. He met M. I. Glinka in 1838 and prepared for an opera career under his direction in St. Petersburg; he later worked under the direction of P. Romani in Italy. In 1841 he made his debut in the Opera in Florence. He joined a Russian opera company in St. Petersburg in 1842 and was a soloist there until 1864, occasionally appearing in Italian operas and in dramatic performances. In 1864–65 he appeared at the Bol’shoi Theater in Moscow.

Gulak-Artemovskii possessed a powerful and beautiful voice as well as dramatic talent. His roles included Ruslan in Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila and Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He began composing in 1851, writing the music to A Picture of Gypsy Life in the Steppes and the vocal and dance divertissemento Ukrainian Wedding. In 1863 his opera The Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube (his own libretto) was presented on the stage of the Mariinskii Theater in St. Petersburg. The composer played the role of Karas’ himself. The opera reflects the freedom-loving spirit of the Ukrainian people, its imagery is life-like and truthful, and the music is based on folk-song motifs.

Gulak-Artemovskii was a friend of T. G. Shevchenko.


Revuts’kyi, D. “S. S. Artemovs’kii-Gulak i iogo komichna opera “Zaporozhets’ za Dunaem.” In Zaporozhets’ za Dunaem. Kiev-Kharkov, 1936.
Bernandt, G., and 1. lampol’skii. “Gulak-Artemovskii i ego russkie sviazi.” In the collection Iz istorii rusko-ukrainskikh muzykal’nykh sviazei. Moscow, 1956.
Kaufman, L. S. S. Gulak-Artemovskii. Kiev, 1962.