Petrov, Osip

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Petrov, Osip Afanas’evich


Born Nov. 3 (15), 1807, in Elizavetgrad, present-day Kirovograd; died Feb. 27 (Mar. 11), 1878, in St. Petersburg. Russian bass, one of the founders of the Russian school of voice.

In his younger years, Petrov sang in a church choir. He later performed with many provincial companies. In Poltava he appeared in a company with M. S. Shchepkin, who greatly influenced him. In 1830, Petrov made his debut in the role of Sarasto in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in the St. Petersburg Opera Theater (since 1860, the Mariinskii Theater). He performed at the theater until his death.

Petrov’s versatile vocal and dramatic talents enabled him to play a variety of different roles. His voice had a wide range, from a deep bass to a flexible baritone. Petrov’s roles included Bertram in Meyerbeer’s Robert the Devil, Figaro in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Caspar in Weber’s Der Freischütz.

A Russian repertoire marked a new phase in Petrov’s career. He created the roles of Susanin and Ruslan in Glinka’s Ivan Susanin (1836) and Ruslan and Liudmila (1842). Glinka composed the role of Ruslan with Petrov in mind. The national features of Petrov’s artistry were vividly revealed in the roles of Susanin and Ruslan and, later, in the role of Farlaf in Ruslan and Liudmila. Glinka’s association with Petrov, for example, the vocal exercises he wrote for Petrov, enhanced the singer’s artistry. Petrov also created the roles of the Miller and Leporello in Dargomyzhskii’s The Mermaid (1856) and The Stone Guest (1872), Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov (1873), and Varlaam in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (1874). Through his friendship with Mussorgsky, Petrov further developed realistic tendencies in his singing.


L’vov, M. O. A. Petrov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Stasov, V. V. “O. A. Petrov.” In Izbrannye sochineniia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1952.
Glinka, M. I. Zapiski. Leningrad, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.