Ershov, Ivan

Ershov, Ivan Vasil’evich


Born Nov. 8 (20), 1867, in the khutor (privately owned homestead) of Malyi Nesvetai, in present-day Rostov Oblast; died Nov. 21, 1943, in Tash-kent. Russian dramatic tenor and teacher. People’s Artist of the USSR (1938), doctor of the arts (1941).

Ershov, a student in S. I. Gabel’s singing class, graduated from the Petersburg Conservatory in 1893. He continued his studies in Italy in 1893 and 1894. He was a soloist at the Kharkov Opera Theater in 1894 and at the Mariinskii Theater (now the S. M. Kirov Theater of Opera and Ballet) from 1895 to 1929. Ershov became a teacher at the Petrograd (Leningrad) Conservatory in 1915, becoming a professor there in 1916. Among his pupils were S. P. Preobrazhenskaia and B. M. Freidkov.

Ershov was an outstanding representative of early 20th-century Russian vocal art. His voice had a distinctive timbre and was of rare strength and range. Ershov’s musical and theatrical interpretations were noted for their profound and vital truthfulness and enormous dramatic effects. His performances were brilliant, original, and psychologically expressive. Ershov attached great significance to makeup, costume, and fluidity of movement. He earned fame for his roles in operas by Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov. He was the first to play the parts of Vakula, Valerii, and Grishka Kuter’ma (in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve, 1895; Servilia , 1902; and Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, 1907). The last role was the best in Ershov’s repertoire. His portrayal of the title role in Verdi’s opera Otello in 1929 was particularly successful. He played the parts of Khlopusha in Pashchenko’s The Revolt of the Eagle (1925) and Truffal’dino in Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges (1926). Ershov was also a concert singer. His interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death reached the heights of mastery. Ershov was awarded the Order of Lenin.


Bogdanov-Berezovskii, V. M. Ivan Ershov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Iagolim, B. “Gordosf russkoi opernoi stseny—I. V. Ershov.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1948, no. 6.
Glebov, Igor’. “Ershov.” Zhizn’ iskusstva, 1921, nos. 715–17.