In honor of Arctic Blast 2008 in the Pacific Northwest, I’m highlighting the great Russian tenor Sergei Lemeshev (1902-1977), here singing the Tsar’s Cavatina from Act Two of Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. There’s no date attached to this excerpt, but I believe that it was taken from a 1946 Bolshoi recording of the opera conducted by Kiril Kondrashin.
Snegurochka – Tsar’s Cavatina
Lemeshev first appeared at the Bolshoi in 1931, and he sang there on a regular basis until 1965. He was, along with Ivan Koslovksy, one of the premiere Russian tenors of the pre- and post-war era.
This aria is a study in breath control and legato, and Lemeshev is more than up to these challenges. Listen to the way he approaches the high A in the following phrase, and then notice how he pulls back ever so slightly on the final three note cadential figure without losing focus (about 1:30 into the recording):
Update: Thanks to reader Natalie for providing the correct date for that recording. It was 1948, not 1946 as I had originally speculated.