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Nezhdanova, Antonina Vasil’evna
Born June 4 (16), 1873, in the village of Krivaia Balka, now within the city limits of Odessa; died June 26, 1950, in Moscow. Soviet Russian lyric and coloratura soprano. People’s Artist of the USSR (1936), Doctor of the Arts (1944), and Hero of Labor (1925).
Nezhdanova‘s parents were village schoolteachers. At the age of seven she began singing, often as a soloist, in church choirs and village choral groups. During the years 1899–1902, Nezhdanova studied at the Moscow Conservatory under U. Masetti; upon graduation, she made her debut at the Bolshoi Theater in the role of Antonida in Glinka’s Ivan Susanin. In her first few seasons she performed her best roles: Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto (1902), Liudmila in Glinka’s Ruslan and Liudmila (1902), Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (1903), Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (1906), the title role in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (1907), the Queen of Shemakha in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (1909), and Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin (1908). In 1912, Nezhdanova performed with success at the Grand Opera Theater in Paris. That same year she sang the part of Marfa in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride.
Nezhdanova’s constant partner was L. V. Sobinov. Their duets were examples of the highest achievements of classical operatic art because of their harmoniousness and perfect execution on stage. Possessing a clear soprano voice, crystal-like in its purity and delicate in its timbre, Nezhdanova extended the range of her voice considerably as a result of persistent exercises. She achieved a richness of sound in all registers, a notable cantilena, and a brilliant, virtuoso coloratura soprano. In developing her parts for the stage, Nezhdanova made use of advice from F. I. Chaliapin, M. N. Ermolova, and K. S. Stanislavsky; however, she devoted her principal attention to the vocal image. She had at her command a Russian melodiousness and an expressive, intimate lyricism, as was seen in her performances of the roles of Antonida and Marfa. Her coloratura soprano could be light and pure (Gilda) or lively and playful (Rosina); it also could be enigmatic and mysterious, with a suggestion of irony (the Queen of Shemakha). She first appeared as a concert singer in 1902. During her career she appeared with such musicians as S. V. Rachmaninoff, A. S. Arenskii, A. K. Glazunov, A. N. Scriabin, and N. S. Golovanov. Her concert repertoire included works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Schubert, and Stravinsky, as well as Russian folk songs and romances.
During the Soviet period, Nezhdanova took part in benefit concerts for workers, peasants, and Red Army soldiers. She began performing over the radio in 1924. She gave concerts abroad (1922) and in cities of the USSR. During this period she also began performing several new parts: the Swan-Princess in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Story of Tsar Saltan, Parasia in Mussorgsky’s Sorochintsy Fair, and Ninetta in Prokofiev’s The Love of Three Oranges. Beginning in 1936 she first taught at a studio of the Bolshoi Theater and later at the Opera Studio of K. S. Stanislavsky; in 1943 she became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. She was the author of articles on Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, and Sobinov. In 1943 she received the State Prize of the USSR. Nezhdanova was awarded two Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and various medals.
WORKS“Stranitsy zhizni: Otryvki iz vospominanii.” Muzykal’naia zhizn’, no. 12, 1960.
REFERENCESL’vov, M. A. V. Nezhdanova. Moscow, 1952.
Antonina Vasil’evna Nezhdanova: Materialy i issledovaniia. Moscow, 1967.
Polianovskii, G. A. V. Nezhdanova. Moscow, 1970.
G. A. POLIANOVSKII