Case in Chaliapin: in the Crimea celebrate the 150th anniversary of the singer

Fyodor Chaliapin was born in Kazan on February 1 (according to the new style – the 13th), 1873. The creative path of the great singer also ran through Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Tbilisi, Nizhny Novgorod, Milan, New York, Paris, but he dreamed of doing the main work of his life in the Crimea, in the small southern coastal village of Gurzuf. By the 150th anniversary of, perhaps, the most famous Russian singer on the peninsula, solemn events will be held and book exhibitions will open, and the Parliamentary Newspaper tells about the Crimean pages of the maestro’s biography.

Cherished dream

Chaliapin’s dream was to have his own theatre. He considered it the main business of his life. “I warmed the dream that was dearest to me. I decided to devote both my material resources and my spiritual strength to creating in Russia an intimate center not only for the theater, but for art in general,” the maestro wrote in his autobiographical book Mask and Soul.

Chaliapin places in Crimea:
– Shalyapinskaya (Pushkinskaya) rock in Gurzuf on the territory of modern “Artek”.
– Palace of Alexander Kuznetsov in Foros, where Chaliapin and Gorky worked on the book “Pages from my life”.
– Chaliapin’s Grotto in the New World.

Chaliapin wanted to build his theater in Gurzuf – this idea came to him in 1917. “There is in the Crimea, in Suuk-Su, a rock by the sea, bearing the name of Pushkin. On it I decided to build a castle of art. It’s the castle. I said to myself: kings and knights had castles, why shouldn’t artists have castles? With loopholes, but not for deadly weapons. I purchased the Pushkin Rock, ordered the architect to design the castle, and bought tapestries to decorate the walls,” Chaliapin wrote.

The singer bought the rock from the owner of the Suuk-Su estate, Olga Solovieva, as evidenced by the bill of sale dated July 29, 1917: “a land plot of 1488 square meters was sold to Fedor Ivanovich Chaliapin. a sazhen for 10,000 rubles … The rock, formerly called “Pushkinskaya”, should now be called “Shalyapinsky Rock”. On the map of the estate “Suuk-Su” the sold plot is marked as “the estate of F. I. Chaliapin.”

Alas, the singer’s dream of having his own theater in the Crimea remained unfulfilled – in 1922 he emigrated and lived the last years of his life in America and Europe. “I left my dream broken in Russia,” Chaliapin stated. And he continued: “Sometimes people say to me: there will still be some noble lover of art who will create your theater for you. I jokingly ask them: “Where will he get the Pushkin Rock?”

Chaliapin was a world celebrity, he performed on the most famous stages of America and Europe, but he conceived his ideal theater only in the Crimea. “My dream is inextricably linked with Russia, with Russian talented and sensitive youth. In some Ohio or on the Rhine, this castle of art does not tempt me so much, ”he wrote.

So that different correspondents do not climb

The artist Konstantin Korovin said in his memoirs that at first Chaliapin wanted to buy for his project the famous rocks-islands of Adalary, the romantic symbols of Gurzuf. Friends and acquaintances did their best to dissuade him from this venture, but the maestro built various unrealizable projects: to bring water to the rocks, bring black earth, lay out gardens there and build a villa.

“You will build me a villa there, and I will ask Sukhomlinov for old guns.

– Why the guns? – I was surprised.

“And then, so that these different correspondents, reporters do not climb on me,” Korovin retold his conversations with Chaliapin.

The idea of ​​buying the Adalarov disappeared after Chaliapin’s trip to Suuk-Su at the invitation of the owner of this estate, Olga Solovieva.

“At night, on an elevated seashore, near Suuk-Su, fireworks were lit and a big picnic was arranged. Champagne was pouring, guests were throwing glasses from a cliff into the sea, they rode in a boat, with torches, to show Chaliapin Pushkin’s grotto.

Mistress Suuk-su said:

– This land, above the grotto of the great poet, I ask you to accept from me as a gift, Fyodor Ivanovich. This is your place. You will build yourself a villa here.

Chaliapin was delighted and stayed in Suuk-Su. The next day in the morning he already had a notary and wrote a donation. The Adalars were forgotten,” Korovin recalled.

The donation is a legend. In fact, as we already know, Chaliapin bought the rock, and for a very impressive amount at that time.

And here is how the art critic Lev Nikulin, who witnessed it, spoke about an impromptu performance arranged on a rock in the same 1917. One evening, a strange procession moved to the rock with lanterns and candles under glass caps. It was attended by artists invited by Chaliapin, guitarists, fishermen from Gurzuf and cooks from a float restaurant. There were four barrels of wine symmetrically arranged by the fire, shish kebabs were fried, mutton fat crackled.

“The stars were shining brightly, it was a warm Crimean night, the cicadas were crackling, and a quiet splash of the surf was barely audible up to the rock. And suddenly Chaliapin began to sing. He sang “Luchinushka” without accompaniment. How strange, how wonderful the Russian song sounded on a rock above the sea on a southern night! And from that moment on, he sang song after song, without forcing himself to beg, he sang in some kind of joyfully descended on him inspiration, ”Nikulin recalled.

The Crimean writer and poet Sergei Sergeev-Tsensky captured the same episode in verse:

“In the seventeenth year, in July,

At the twelfth hour of the night

Went from Gurzuf on a new moon

Heading towards Suuk-su

Crowd. They were led by Chaliapin

To your rock on the shore

In a white shirt, in a white hat,

The huge one was moving in the darkness…”

The hero must drink barrels

Another Shalyapin place in the Crimea is connected with drinking – the “Chaliapin Grotto” in the village of Novy Svet, which the “father of Russian champagne” Prince Lev Golitsyn used both as a wine cellar and as a concert venue. Legend has it that the winemaker regaled the singer with his famous champagne here, and he gave a concert in gratitude for this, but there is no documentary evidence of this story. Which, however, does not negate Chaliapin’s love for champagne and not only. The singer himself, however, considered the stories about his addiction to alcohol an exaggeration.​ ​

Grotto of Chaliapin in the New World.
© Artem Kreminsky / RIA Novosti

“In the view of a Russian person, a hero cannot drink from a glass – he must drink with tubs. I drank in glasses, but since I was a “hero”, I had to say that I drink in barrels of forties, and not in one eye! This, perhaps, is even a compliment to me – well done. The strength of a Russian person was often measured by the amount of alcohol that he can absorb with impunity. If he could drink a dozen champagnes and did not fall to the floor, but staggered proudly to the exit, he was reverently escorted with the words:

– That’s a man!

So I understand my “drunkenness” – and even flattered, ”wrote Chaliapin.

Last concert in Sevastopol

For the first time, Chaliapin visited the Crimea in 1898 on tour of the Private Russian Opera – concerts were held in Yalta and Sevastopol. In 1902, the singer visited his friend Alexei Maksimovich Gorky in Oleiz, to whom he arrived with a basket of champagne.

– Here we are for the evening, otherwise I’m afraid you won’t get it here, but today I want to drink and sing. What are your plans for today, Alexa?

– The same as yours – to sing and drink, – the writer Stepan Skitalets, who participated in it, described the meeting of friends in his memoirs.

On that visit to the Crimea, Chaliapin met with Chekhov, Bunin, Nemirovich-Danchenko, but Leo Tolstoy did not receive them and Gorky at Gaspra, citing weakness after illness.

Chaliapin’s next visits to the peninsula took place in 1909 and 1913. In 1916, together with Gorky, he worked in Foros on his first autobiography, Pages from My Life. The idea belonged to Gorky. Persuading a friend to sit down for a book, he wrote: “It will be very sad if your material falls into the hands and teeth of some little man who is unable to understand all the enormous – national – importance of your life, a symbolic life, which undeniably testifies to the great strength and power of the motherland. ours.” In Foros, Chaliapin told the stenographer about his childhood, the first steps in art, work on stage, while the writer edited these memoirs, at the same time adding something from himself.

Chaliapin, dressed in a sailor’s uniform, gave his last official concert in the Crimea on Primorsky Boulevard in revolutionary Sevastopol in July 1917. And in 1922, as already mentioned, the maestro left revolutionary Russia forever.​

Read also:

• The centenary of Leonid Gaidai is celebrated in Crimea


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