Derzhinskaya, Zeniya (1889–1951)

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Derzhinskaya, Zeniya (1889–1951)

Russian soprano, who was one of the outstanding singers of her era. Born in Kiev, Russia, on February 6, 1889; died in Moscow on June 9, 1951; was made a People's Artists of the USSR (1937).

Zeniya Georgiyevna Derzhinskaya studied with F. Pash and Mathilde Marchesi in Kiev. When Derzhinskaya sang Rachmaninov, the composer himself praised her performance. Moving to Moscow, she sang at the Narodnïy Dom opera house from 1913 to 1915, then went to the Bolshoi Theater where she remained until 1948. Under Václav Suk, Derzhinskaya created her best roles—Lisa in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Nastasya in Tchaikovsky's Sorceress, and Fevroniya in Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the City of Kitezh. Her voice had a wide range and beautiful timbre. Particularly successful in her portrayal of Russian women, she was also remembered as Mariya in Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa and as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. In 1926, Derzhinskaya gave a concert performance of Kitezh at the Paris Opéra which was a great success. After her retirement in 1948, she taught at the Moscow Conservatory until her death in 1951. A much-beloved artist, Zeniya Derzhinskaya was made a People's Artist of the USSR in 1937.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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