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The first tenor of the country

26 years ago, on December 21, 1993, the famous Soviet opera singer, People’s Artist of the USSR Ivan Kozlovsky passed away. He always had a huge number of fans who were ready to fight for him in the literal sense of the word – they fought with fans of his main rival on the stage, Sergey Lemeshev. It was said that with his one glance he beat women on the spot. He was married twice, but after a divorce from his second wife he spent more than 40 years alone, left the Bolshoi Theater and even thought about leaving for the monastery …

Ivan Kozlovsky was the same age. He was born in 1900 into a peasant family in a village near Kiev. These are usually called nuggets from the people. At the age of 7, Ivan was in the Mikhailovsky Monastery, where he sang in the monastery choir. Later, the singer said: “My mother dreamed that I would become a priest, and they sent me to school, from there it was a stone’s throw to the rank of bishop. After school, they were admitted to the seminary, where they studied for four years as a priest. If you wanted to become a theologian – another year. Then they could enter the academy. We lived in the Mikhailovsky Monastery. ”

But the young man had other plans – after 10 years he fled from bursa, wandered around the villages for several months, earning money by singing, and then came to Kiev. He decided to try to enter the Kiev Music and Drama Institute. His natural talent so impressed the admissions committee that he was credited after the first round of exams. In 1920, Kozlovsky was drafted into the army. But even while serving in the engineering forces of the Red Army, Kozlovsky continued to do what he liked — he directed amateur performances and participated in the performances of the Poltava Mobile Musical Drama Theater.

After completing the service, Ivan Kozlovsky performed at the Kharkov Opera House, a year later he moved to the Sverdlovsk Opera House, and in 1926 he moved to Moscow and was accepted into the Bolshoi Theater troupe. From that moment, his triumphal journey on the opera stage began. The performance of the parts of the Holy Fool in Boris Godunov, Lensky in Eugene Onegin, and Berendey in Snegurochka brought him incredible popularity and adoration of the audience. They say that Chaliapin himself, who considered the tenor “a physical handicap,” when he heard this unique timbre, exclaimed: “The bastard Kozlovsky sings great!”

In 1938, Ivan Kozlovsky became the organizer and leader of the USSR State Opera Ensemble. The authorities were supportive of him – he was even called Stalin’s favorite singer. He listened to Kozlovsky not only at the Bolshoi Theater – sometimes tenors were brought to the Kremlin at night and he sang especially for Stalin. But at the same time he was not allowed to go abroad – in 1919 his brother Fedor, who, along with Ivan sang in the monastery choir and also became a singer, went on tour to Europe and did not return.

In 1954, the singer, to the great regret of the army of thousands of his fans, suddenly decided to leave the theater. He remained in great shape, continued to sing, and for many this decision was a complete surprise. But the singer had personal reasons for this …

At the age of 20, the singer married the leading actress of the Poltava Theater Alexandra Gertsik, who was 14 years older than him. Together they moved to Moscow, where Kozlovsky’s career took off, while the star of his wife gradually faded away. However, she did not complain about fate – for 17 years, Alexander remained not only a wife, but also a devoted friend, who surrounded him with almost maternal care. Having put an end to her own career, she was engaged in household and household life, selflessly devoting her life to “the first tenor of the country.”

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