Thursday, 11 February 2010

Arkhipova bows out

That wicked site Parterre does have its uses: only entries after the most appalling Anglophobic attack on the totally brilliant Christopher Purves - whose consummate Glyndebourne Falstaff I've just been relishing again on the new DVD release - La Cieca breaks the news (to me, at any rate) of Russian mezzodiva Irina Arkhipova's death at the age of 85.

Well, she was a great artist, on a par with the underrated Dolukhanova and Obraztsova (whom I've had the privilege of seeing thrice on stage). Friends in Moscow told me she was still singing sublimely on her 70th birthday. I'm also reminded of my dear late friend Martin Zam, who was taken by his pharmacist father to see Chaliapin in a Moscow Boris Godunov and who died in his 90s; his favourite track was Arkhipova singing 'The Field of the Dead' from Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky. That, for him, summed up the tragedy of the country he lost. Polina's 'sad song about Russia' - as our Chantraine teacher used to call our choreography - will have to do here instead. And, on a lesser level of Tchaikovskyan inspiration, but still very stylishly done, here's Joan's farewell to the countryside from his Maid of Orleans.


Willym said...

I saw her in a concert performance of the Nevsky back in the 70s in London. A great artist indeed. Thank you for the clips.

David said...

Lucky you! I never did, and I'm blowed if I can track down her recording of it.

Will said...

I heard her in 1997 at age 72 or 73 as Filipyevna at the Met when they premiered Robert Carsen's beautiful new Eugene Onegin production. I was stunned to find her announced for the role and delighted at the huge welcome the audience gave her at the curtain calls. It was a thrill to have gotten to see her perform live.

Will said...

David, this is available on Amazon, She would have been 65 at the time:

Alexander Nevsky Op.78 by Sergei Prokofiev, Riccardo Chailly, Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and Irina Arkhipova (Audio CD - 1990)
6 new from $14.00
14 used from $1.49

David said...

Ah, so she recorded it with Chailly? One of the few recordings of Nevsky I haven't heard. Putting 'Arkhipova' and 'Nevsky' into Amazon didn't bring anything up.

My friend, of course, would have heard a much older performance of it. I thought she was on the superb Svetlanov recording, but that's Larisa Avdeyeva.

Will said...

I have the Svetlanov, and also Reiner's English-language recording with Rosalind Elias. His conducting is dynamic and the Chicago orchestra tremendous; she's a bit lighter and more pretty than Mother Russia mourning her dead children, but she does well. I love the sound of sung Russian, however -- and I don't like the trite, repetitive translation.

I would be surprised if there weren't a couple of earlier Nevskys with Arkhipova.

Anonymous said...

She was also the soloist in Nevsky at the RFH on November 2nd 1982 conducted by Riccardo Muti with the Philharmonia and Chorus, broadcast live on Radio 3. This was still the Soviet era of course and, rightly or wrongly, she was very much identified with the Soviet authorities at that time. When it was time for her solo this was interrupted 3 times by "Free Scharansky" protesters but, although visibly upset she persevered to complete a memorable performance. The Broadcast was uninterrupted (see page 245 of Philharmonia Orchestra by Stephen J Pettit, Hale 1985). It will be interesting to see if the obits think this worth relating (they may think it too insignificant!).