Pavel Lisitsian

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Pavel_Lisitsian&chld=H_100&junk=junk.png Pavel Lisitsian Mars symbol.svg
Birth name Pavel Gerasimovich Lisitsian
Birthplace Vladikavkaz
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Birth date 6 November 1911
Death date 2004/07/06
Death year 2004
Ethnicities Armenian
Dialects Eastern Armenian

Pavel Lisitsian

The Times (London) August 31, 2004, Tuesday

Pavel Lisitsian, operatic baritone, was born on November 6, 1911. He died on July 6, 2004, aged 92. Russian singer regarded as one of the best Verdi baritones of the postwar years but whose career was limited by the Cold War

The Russian baritone Pavel Lisitsian convinced all those fortunate enough to have heard him that, in the words of one admirer of his recorded Amonasro in Aida, "he may well have been the best Verdi baritone of the postwar years". His mastery extended far beyond Verdi, both in the theatre and on the concert platform, but since his appearances abroad were sorely restricted by the Second World War and then by the Cold War and by the suspicion of foreign contacts that it engendered in the Soviet authorities, his admirers outside the Soviet Union had to content themselves, for the most part, with his records.

Of Armenian descent, Lisitsian was born Pogos Karapetovich Liseetsian in Vladikavkas (Ordzhonikidze), near Grozny, the son of a mineworker. Thinking to follow in his father's footsteps, he was apprenticed as a welder. As a child he sang in church choirs, and after his voice broke his singing as an amateur in workers' concerts soon brought his gifts to wider attention. At length, backed by a local workers' co-operative, in 1932 he entered the Leningrad Conservatory where he studied for three years, during which he continued to work in a factory and also took cello lessons. In Leningrad at that time memories were still fresh of the methods of the pre-1914 Italian school exemplified by singers such as De Luca and Stracciari, and later Lisitsian would always describe himself to acquaintances as essentially an Italian singer; certainly his command of legato and the beauty of his voice were among the qualities that would have appealed to his Italian predecessors.

His first professional engagement as a soloist was at the Maly Theatre in Leningrad in 1935, and in 1937 he was contracted as a principal baritone by the theatre at Yerevan in Armenia. In 1940 he joined the company of the Bolshoi in Moscow and remained there as a leading member of the company until

he retired from the stage in 1966.

His success there was immediate, consistent and prolonged. In 1959 he sang Napoleon in the first complete performance of Prokofiev's War and Peace to be staged in Moscow. It was conducted by Melik-Pashayev with whom Lisitsian became particularly associated and who, according to Galina Vishnevskaya, formed a core of favourite singers

who also included Andzhaparidze, Arkhipova, Petrov and Vishnevskaya herself. Their performances of the great Verdi operas became legendary in the postwar decade.

At the same time Lisitsian continued to appear frequently outside Moscow, especially in Armenia, and he reckoned that during the war he gave 500 or more concerts to serving Soviet troops.

The restrictions placed on his travels outside the USSR by a regime always worried that their best people might defect have already been mentioned. However, in the years of the post-Stalinist "thaw" Lisitsian did make a tour of the USA when, in 1960, he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Amonasro. But the Met at that time still retained the services of, among others, Merrill, Warren, MacNeil, Zanasi, Sereni and Bastianini, and Lisitsian's debut excited little comment, favourable or unfavourable. Elsewhere he won good opinions, especially in San Francisco, as much for his recitals of Russian and Armenian songs as for his stage appearances. In 1963 he was heard also in Western Europe, and was a member of the Bolshoi company which visited La Scala, Milan, in 1964, where he sang Eletsky in The Queen of Spades and Napoleon.

After retiring from the Bolshoi in 1966, he travelled widely and successfully as a recitalist and was particularly pleased by the popularity of the vocal quartet that he formed in 1970 with three of his children. From 1967 to 1973 he also taught regularly at the Yerevan Conservatory.

Lisitsian was a handsome presence on stage and an excellent actor. His voice was a splendid, high lyric baritone, beautifully trained and evenly produced throughout a range of two octaves which extended easily to the high A, and without hint of fuzz or wobble.

His declamation was exemplary, being both clear and vivid, and was allied to sure taste and musicality. If his voice was thought a little small for Amonasro in so large a theatre as the Met, his powers of projection were ample compensation.

Despite the relatively primitive technology of the Soviet recordings, all these qualities can be admired on his records, sung invariably in Russian. His Valentin in Faust, recorded in 1947, was described by one critic as "simply a great piece of singing under impeccable artistic guidance". Another wrote that Lisitsian's Valentin, "in glorious voice, is the standard by which to judge the others".


Pavel Gerasimovich Lisitsian (Russian: Павел Герасимович Лисициан) (November 6, 1911 – July 6, 2004) was a Soviet baritone opera singer who performed in the Bolshoi Opera, Moscow from 1940 until his retirement from stage in 1966.

He was born into an Armenian family living in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz, where his father was a mineworker. Pavel first worked in diamond drilling, then as a welder apprentice hoping to follow his father's steps. He first began to sing in a church choir before moving to Leningrad to study cello (1930).

As a strong-voiced soloist of a local amateur group he was commissioned to the Leningrad Conservatory.

He started his vocal career in the Maly Leningrad State Opera Theatre and then in the Yerevan Opera House, where he performed the leads for three years.

From 1940 to 1966 Pavel Lisitsian was the soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre and performed parts of Yeletsky, Onegin, Mazepa, and Robert (in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Evgenie Onegin, Mazepa, and Iolanta respectively), Germont and Amonasro (in Verdi's Traviata and Aida), Escamilo (in Bizet’s Carmen), Tatul (Spendiarov’s Almast), Arsaces II (Arshak II) (Chuhadzhyan’s Arshak II), Napoleon (in Prokofiev's War and Peace), and others.

During a concert tour of the USA in 1960 he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Amonasro. He died in Moscow.

His daughters Karina and Ruzanna are successful opera singers who frequently perform together. His grand daughter pianist Elena Lisitsian lives in New York City.


Source: Wikipedia