Figner, Nikolai (Nikolaievich)

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Figner, Nikolai (Nikolaievich)

Figner, Nikolai (Nikolaievich), celebrated Russian tenor; b. Nikiforovka, Feb. 21, 1857; d. Kiev, Dec. 13, 1918. He was a lieutenant in the Russian navy before deciding upon a career in music, then studied voice with Prianishnikov and Everardi in St. Petersburg (1881–82), and with De Roxas in Naples, where he made his operatic debut at the Teatro Sannazaro in Gounod’s Philemon et Baucis in 1882. After singing in various Italian cities and in Latin America, he was a leading member of the Maryinsky Imperial Opera Theater in St. Petersburg (1887–1907). He made his debut at Covent Garden in London on May 26, 1887, as the Duke in Rigoletto. After singing in private Russian theaters (1907–10), he served as director of the Narodny Dom in St. Petersburg (1910–15). He was married to Medea Figner (1889–1903), who described their careers in her memoirs (St. Petersburg, 1912). He was the favorite tenor of Tchaikovsky and was selected to create the roles of Hermann in The Queen of Spades (Dec. 19, 1890) and Count Vaudemont in Yolanto (Dec. 18, 1892) at their St. Petersburg premieres. His other roles included Lensky, Otello, Don Jose, Faust, Radames, Werther, Lohengrin, and Roméo.


L. Kutateladse, N. F.: Recollections, Letters, Materials (Leningrad, 1968).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire