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Lensky’s Aria from Eugene Onegin, Act II, Sergei Lemeshev at age 35

By March 21, 2018March 16th, 2023No Comments

Lemishev was a very famous lyric tenor from a very poor area of Russia.  He spent a good deal of time in Harbin, which was a Russian colony (really a White Russian colony) in China.  Upon leaving Harbin and returning to Russia, he spent several years in the capital of Georgia – Tblisi.  There was a legacy of bel canto singing in Tblisi, and the public were notoriously picky about the singers who sang there.  At some point during World War II, Lemeshev suffered pneumonia, pleurisy, and tuberculosis.  Even with these ailments, he managed to have a great and very long career as a lyric tenor in the Bolshoi.  The youtube link that is posted is Lensky’s aria from   Eugene Onegin before Lemeshev contracted any of these diseases.  You can hear him as he was as a young man.  What is remarkable is the use of the breath.  Lemeshev is singing in an Italianate style with the breath passing through the vocal apparatus into the resonating cavities of the head.  That and his expressiveness create a moving picture of the gloomy poet Lensky in the opera.

Detailed information about Lemeshev:  Detailed information about Lemeshev


Куда, куда, куда вы удалились,
весны моей златые дни?
Что день грядущий мне готовит?
Его мой взор напрасно ловит:
в глубокой тьме таится он!
Нет нужды; прав судьбы закон!
Паду ли я, стрелой пронзённый,
иль мимо пролетит она, –
всё благо; бдения и сна
приходит час определённый!
Благословен и день забот,
благословен и тьмы приход!
Блеснёт заутра луч денницы,
и заиграет яркий день,
а я, быть может, я гробницы
сойду в таинственную сень!
И память юного поэта
поглотит медленная Лета.
Забудет мир меня; но ты, ты, Ольга…
Скажи, придёшь ли, дева красоты,
слезу пролить над ранней урной
и думать: он меня любил!
Он мне единой посвятил
рассвет печальный жизни бурной!
Ах, Ольга, я тебя любил!
Тебе единой посвятил
рассвет печальный жизни бурной!
Ах, Ольга, я тебя любил!
Сердечный друг, желанный друг,
приди, приди!
Желанный друг, приди, я твой супруг!
приди, я твой супруг!
приди, приди!
Я жду тебя, желанный друr
приди, приди, я твой супруг!
Куда, куда, куда вы удалились,
златые дни, златые дни моей весны?

Transliterated Russian

ku-dа́ , ku-dа́ , ku-dа́ vy u-da-lí-lis’
ves-ný ma-е́ j zla-tý-je dni
shto den’ grja-dú-schij mne ga-tó-vit
evo moj vzor nap-rа́s-na ló-vit
v glu-bó-kaj t’me tа́-ee-tsa on
net núzh-dy praf sud’-bý za-kón
pa-dú lee ja stre-lój pran-zjón-nyj
eel’ mí-ma pra-le-tít a-nа́
fsjó blа́-ga bdе́-ni-ja ee sna
pri-hó-dit chas ap-re-di-ljón-nyj
bla-gas-la-vе́n ee den’ za-bót
bla-gas-la-vе́n ee t’my pri-hót
blis-njót za-út-ra luch den-ní-tsy
ee za-ig-rа́-jet yа́r-kij den’
a ja byt’ mó-zhet ja grab-ní-tsy
saj-dú fta-ín-stvin-nu-ju sen’
ee pа́-mjat’ jún-na-va pa-е́-ta
pag-ló-tit mе́d-lin-na-ja lе́-ta
za-bú-dit mir mi-njа́ no ty, ty Ól’-ga
ska-zhý pri-djósh lee djе́-va kra-sa-tý
sli-zú pra-lít’ nad rа́n-nej úr-naj
ee dú-mat’ on mi-njа́ lju-bíl
on mnje je-dí-naj pas-yja-tíl
ras-sv’е́t pi-chа́ l’-nyj zhíz-ni búr-naj
Ah, Ól’-ga ja ti-bjа́ lju-bíl
tebe yedinoi posyatil
rassvyet pecialni zhizni burnoi,
akh, Olga, ya tebya lyubil!
sir-dе́ch-nyj druk zhe-lа́n-nyj druk
pri-dí pri-dí
zhe-lа́n-nyj druk, pri-dí ja tvoj sup-rúk
pri-dí pri-dí ja tvoj sup-rúk
pri-dí pri-dí
ja zhdu ti-bjа́ zhe-lа́n-nyj druk
pri-dí pri-dí ja tvoj sup-rúk
Kudà, kudà, kudà vi udalilis
zlatye dni, zlatye dni moyey vesni?


Where, oh where have you gone,
Golden days of my spring?
What does the coming day have in store for me?
It escapes my eyes
it is hidden in deep darkness!
But, nevertheless, the law of fate cannot be wrong
Shall I fall to the deadly arrow
or will it pass by?
All for the better.  For life and for sleep
there is a pre-determined time
Blessed is a day of simple tasks
And blessed is the day of darkness.
When the day-beam shines in the morning
and the bright day shall reign
But, I perhaps will descend
into mysterious darkness of my fatal tomb?
And the memory of a young poet
will fall into an Abyss.
The world shall forget me, but you, you Olga!
Tell me, will you, the maiden of beauty,
come to shed a tear over the early urn?
And think, “he loved me,
he devoted to me
the gloomy dawn of his troubled life!”
Yes, Olga, I did love you!
You have a single dedicated (lover)
Dawn (of a ) sad stormy life!
Ah, Olga, I love you!
my beloved friend, my dear friend
Come, come!
beloved friend, do come for I am your spouse
do come, for I am your spouse
Come, come
I am waiting for you, oh beloved friend
Come, come, for I am your spouse
Where, where, where have you gone,
golden days, golden days of my spring?

Sergei Lemeshev

Sergei Yakovlevich Lemeshev (Russian: Серге́й Я́ковлевич Ле́мешев, born July 10, 1902 – died June 26, 1977, Moscow) was one of the most well-known and beloved Russian operatic lyric tenors.

Early Life and Career

Lemeshev was born into a peasant family, and his father wanted him to become a cobbler. In 1914, he left a parish school and was sent to be trained to make shoes in St Petersburg. In 1917, he graduated from school in Tver, where he received vocal training. He began first at a local workers’ club and later moved to Moscow.

Between 1921 and 1925, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Nazari Raisky. In 1924, he sang in the opera studio of Konstantin Stanislavsky. From 1926 and 1931, he sang in the theaters of Sverdlovsk, Harbin, and Tbilisi.

In 1931 Lemeshev was invited to the Bolshoi Theatre, made his debut and eventually became the theatre’s soloist. Lemeshev was a great worker and worked hard to develop each of his opera roles. His vocal and artistic qualities, evident to every listener, are beauty of timbre, musicality, effortlessness of vocal production, expressiveness, very clear diction and incredible pianissimo. The best years of his operatic career were from 1931 to 1942. He was also an outstanding concert singer and a brilliant performer of traditional Russian folk songs. In 1938, he became the first artist to sing all 100 romances by Tchaikovsky in 5 concerts. Folk songs broadcast on the radio further sealed his stature as a truly national singer.


The beginning of the Great Patriotic War (the Russian term for the war on the Eastern Front during WWII) was crucial for Lemeshev; during one evacuation he caught a very bad cold which resulted in two attacks of pneumonia, complicated by pleurisy and tuberculosis of the right lung. He was treated with an artificial pneumothorax, which induced the therapeutic collapse of one lung. Although singing was forbidden, he adapted by being more conscious and sensitive with regard to his technique and continued to sing with one lung from 1942 to 1948, when the other lung was also artificially collapsed and re-inflated.

In 1947, he toured and performed at the Berlin State Opera. Along with his friendly rival, tenor Ivan Kozlovsky, he was the leading tenor at the Bolshoi until 1956.

Signature Role as Lensky in Eugene Onegin

Lemeshev’s signature role was as Lensky in Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and he performed it more than 500 times from 1927 onwards. He performed it for the last time on his 70th birthday, after suffering three heart attacks and having a lung removed.