Austrian Willinger photo card signed by one of opera’s greatest bassos
Autograph ID: 5005
Condition: Very good
Description:“(1873-1938) Russian basso opera singer, enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses, often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.He is noted for the magnetic power of his personality, the acuteness of his musical interpretations, and the vividness of his performances. Born into a peasant family in Kazan, he was largely self-taught, and began his career at Tbilisi and the Imperial Opera, St. Petersburg in 1894. He was then invited to sing at the Mamontov Private Opera (1896–99); his first role there was as Mephistopheles in Faust, in which he was a considerable success. At Mamontov he also met Sergei Rachmaninoff, who taught him much about musicianship, including how to analyze a music score, and insisted that Chaliapin learn not only his own roles but all other roles in the operas in which he was to appear. With Rachmaninoff he learned the role of Boris Godunov, which became his signature character. The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow engaged Chaliapin, where he appeared regularly 1899-1914. During WWI, Chaliapin also appeared regularly at the Zimin Private Opera in Moscow. From 1901, he began touring in the West, making a sensational debut at La Scala that year as the devil in Boito’s “Mefistofele”, under the baton of Toscanini. His Metropolitan Opera debut in the 1907 season was disappointing due to the unprecedented frankness of his stage acting; but he returned to the Met in 1921 and sang there with immense success for 8 seasons.. In 1913, he was introduced to London and Paris by Sergei Diaghilev, at which point he began giving well-received solo recitals in which he sang traditional Russian folk songs as well as more serious fare. Among these folk songs was the song which he made famous throughout the world: “The Song of the Volga Boatmen”. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, at first he was treated as a revered artist of the newly-emerged Soviet Russia. He remained outside Russia after 1921, largely living in Paris, which allowed him to pursue an operatic and concert career in England, the US, and elsewhere. His most famous part was as Boris Godunov but he is remembered also for his Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Maid of Pskov”, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s “Faust”, Don Quixote in Massenet’s “Don Quichotte”, King Philip in Verdi’s “Don Carlos” and Bertram in Meyerbeer’s “Robert le Diable”. Largely owing to his advocacy, Russian operas such as Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina”, Glinka’s “Ivan Susanin”, Borodin’s “Prince Igor” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tsar’s Bride” and “Sadko”, became well-known in the West. he made one sound film, the 1933 “Adventures of Don Quixote”, made in 3 different versions – French, English, and German. In 1932, Chaliapin published a memoir, “Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer”.
SP, 5 ½ x 3 ½ Austrian postcard-size bust portrait in suit, tie & overcoat, image by Willinger. Pencil inscription, June 1927 date & place on verso likely in another hand, signed in ink on portrait by Chaliapin. LASZLO WILLINGER (1909-1989) Hungrian photographer noted for his portrait photography of movie stars and celebrities during 1930s-40s. Taught photography by his mother, also a photographer, Willinger established studios in Paris and Berlin in 1929 & 1931 respectively, while submitting his photographs to newspapers as a freelance contributor. He left Berlin in 1933, settling and working in Vienna where he began to photograph such celebrities as Marlene Dietrich, Hedy Lamarr, Pietro Mascagni, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Max Reinhardt. By the mid-30s he was travelling through Africa and Asia before being invited by studio photographer Eugene Robert Richee to move to the US. After establishing a studio in Hollywood, he became a frequent contributor to magazines and periodicals, providing magazine cover portraits of some of the most popular stars. Willinger was one of the first Hollywood photographers to experiment in the use of color.”