Chaliapin and the Jews: The Question of Chaliapin’s Purported Antisemitism


Series: Fine Arts, Music and Literature
BISAC: MUS028000

Target Audience: The book is addressed to opera lovers, singers, music and sociology students and researchers, as well as to those involved in the research of Jewish Studies and Russian History.

After publishing two previous books on Feodor Chaliapin with Nova Science Publishers, Tsar Feodor: Chaliapin in America (2012) and Sex and the Singer: Women in Feodor Chaliapin’s Life (2014), the current work of Darsky concludes his research trilogy about one of the world’s greatest operatic stars; however, this time he examines the life and work of the singer from a completely unexpected angle.

In multiple Russian/Soviet publications, including recollections and critical biographies about Feodor Chaliapin, not a single word accusing him of antisemitism can be found, although such rumors have never stopped circulating. Meanwhile, some predominantly American authors put such accusations in writing while failing to provide any references. Such allegations have been vehemently rejected by Chaliapin’s children in their memoirs and during interviews with the author of this book, stating that several Jews were among Chaliapin’s closest friends and that during his entire life he had helped many others.

It appears that until now, the topic of “Chaliapin and the Jews” has not attracted any scholarly interest, either in Russia or abroad, though there have been several short articles in Russian dedicated mainly to one particular event. This event took place in Soviet Russia in April of 1918, when Chaliapin participated in a so-called Zionist Concert. The story of the performance, after being forgotten for fifty years, was resurrected in an article by Professor Mikhail Goldstein that appeared in a Russian language Israeli periodical. The Professor also called for further searches of unknown and forgotten facts, showing Chaliapin’s amicable attitude toward the Jewish people.

Over twenty years ago, responding to Goldstein’s appeal and keeping in mind the statements of Chaliapin’s children, the author of this book made his first attempt to compile in a Russian essay all the facts that were known to him at that time about Chaliapin’s interactions with Jews. After acquiring additional information, learning and deeply understanding the inner essence and spirit of this great man, the author believes that the time is now ripe to present for the first time ever a book written in English with the most complete picture of Chaliapin’s good deeds, his cordial attitude toward Jews and showing how Jewish influences shaped Chaliapin’s views of life and art. Simultaneously, an effort has been made to expose the absurdity of the statements concerning Chaliapin’s purported antisemitism.

Table of Contents




Part One: Quasi-Statistical

Chapter 1. Jews in Chaliapin’s Childhood

Chapter 2. Chaliapin and his Jewish Impresarios

Chapter 3. Singing with the Jews

Chapter 4. Working with “Non-Singing” Jews

Chapter 5. Bonds with Jewish and Russian Painters and Sculptors

Chapter 6. Bonds with Russian and Jewish Literati

Chapter 7. Bonds with Jewish Musicians

Chapter 8. Chaliapin and his Jewish Accompanists

Chapter 9. Other Jewish Connections

Part Two: Judeophilia?

Chapter 10. “Dear Isaychik – My Gray Bunny!”

Chapter 11. Chaliapin and Mikhail Volkenstein

Chapter 12. Chaliapin the Zionist



Illustration Plates

Index of Names

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