Chaliapin at La Scala: the Triumph of the Russian Genius

Keywords: Fyodor Chaliapin, Arrigo Boito, Mephistopheles, La Scala Theater, Leo Gladkikh, Vlassy Doroshevich, claque


The article provides a short commentary on the libretto of the opera about Chaliapin written by Leo Gladkikh. In the artistic legacy of writer, playwright, actor, translator, director, and screenwriter Leo Gladkikh (1929–1987), who is insufficiently known in our country, there are numerous theatrical plays about outstanding figures of Russian culture and that of other countries, Vera Komissarzhevskaya, Vincent van Gogh, Isaac Levitan, poet Rudaki and many others. The libretto about the outstanding Russian singer Leo Gladkikh was based on
a well-known event — the attempt to disrupt Chaliapin’s performance at the Italian La Scala theater, on the stage of which he made his debut in the role of Mephistopheles from the opera of the same name by Arrigo Boito. The conspiracy of the Milanese clackers was overturned by a brilliant performance of the Russian operatic genius whose triumph was stunning. A photocopy of the libretto published
in Leo Gladkikh’s collection Living Manuscripts was kindly provided by Grigory Ganzburg from the Zurich Library.

Musical Theater