Figner, Nikolai

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Figner, Nikolai Nikolaevich


Born Feb. 9 (21), 1857, in Mamadysh, now in Mamadysh Raion, Tatar ASSR; died Dec. 13, 1918, in Kiev. Russian lyrical and dramatic tenor.

Figner studied in Russia with I. P. Prianishnikov and J. Everardi; he continued his studies in Italy. His debut in Naples in 1882 was followed by appearances in Europe and South America. From 1887 to 1907 he was a soloist with the Mariinskii Theater and after 1907 with private opera theaters. From 1910 to 1915 he was a soloist of and director of the opera company at the People’s House in St. Petersburg.

Figner’s voice did not have a particularly beautiful timbre, but, owing to his vocal skill, stage presence, and expressive acting, he succeeded in creating vivid and distinctive portrayals. Among his many varied operatic roles were German in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Lenskii in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, the Pretender in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, the title role in Verdi’s Otello, and Don José in Bizet’s Carmen. Figner was the first performer of Vodemon in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Vladimir in Napravnik’s Dubrovskii. Tchaikovsky highly valued Figner’s artistry and dedicated a cycle of romances to the singer (opus 73).


Stark, E. (Zigfrid). Peterburgskaia opera i ee mastera, 1890–1910. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
Levik, S. Zapiski opernogo pevtsa, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.