Nadezhda Obukhova

was one of Russia’s most beloved artists during the post-war years. Already 28 at the outbreak of WorldWar I, she could well be expected to have recorded during the pre-electric period. Why she was not given the opportunity to do so, will probably never be known. Listening to her records of 1937 onwards you can hardly believe that this is the voice of a 51-year-old-singer!

I am going out on a limb.  There are a number of wonderful, wonderful Russian singers who are not well known in the West because they lived behind the Iron Curtain.  I found Obukhova just by accident and  thought she was a magnificent singer.  The placement of the voice and the control of the breath are just outstanding.  This was a great, great voice.  Here is the going out on a limb part.  I don’t speak or read Russian.  The first song that Obukhova is going to sing is the Élegie by Massenet.  She sings it in Russian, and not in French.  There are recordings of her singing French arias in French, and her pronunciation is beautiful.  But I don’t have those for you.  Normally, I would put the Russian in the Cyrillic alphabet, a transliteration to the Latin alphabet, and then the English.  For the Elegy, all I will be able to do for you is French and English.  I apologize, but finding song lyrics in Russian is not easy.  For the Tchikavosky, I will be able to provide the Russian, the transliteration, and the English.  Obukhova sings Dalila’s first aria from Samson et Dalila, also by Massenet.  Unfortunately, here again, I don’t have the Russian lyrics, so I have given you the original French and an English translation.

Massenet, Élegie

Ô, doux printemps d’autre fois, vertes saisons,
Vous avez fui pour toujours!
Je ne vois plus le ciel bleu;
Je n’entends plus les chants joyeux des oiseaux!
En emportant mon bonheur, mon bonheur…
Ô bien-amé, tu t’en es allé!
Et c’est en vain que le printemps revient!
Oui, sans retour,
avec toi, le gai soleil,
Les jours riants sont partis!
Comme en mon coeur tout est sombre et glacé!
Tout est flétri
pour toujours!

Elegy

O sweet springtimes of old verdant seasons
You have fled forever
I no longer see the blue sky
I no longer hear the bird’s joyful singing
And, taking my happiness with you
You have gone on your way my love!
In vain Spring returns
Yes, never to return
The bright sun has gone with you
The days of happiness have fled
How gloomy and cold is my heart
All is withered
Forever

Pique Dame, Polina’s Romance

Russian
Да, вспомнила!
Подруги милые! в беспечности игривой
Под плясовой напев вы резвитесь в лугах.

И я, как вы, жила в Аркадии счастливой;
И я, на утре дней, в сих рощах и полях

Минутны радости вкусила:
Любовь в мечтах златых
Mне счастие сулила;
Но что ж досталось мне в сих радостных местах?
Могила!

Transliteration

da, fspóm-ni-la
pad-rú-gi meе́-ly-je, fbes-pе́-chnas-ti ig-reе́-vaj
pat pl’e-sa-vój na-pе́f vy rе́-zvi-tes’ vlu-gа́kh

ee ya kak vy zhi-lа́ var-kа́-diee schas-leе́-vaj
ee ya, na út-ri dnej, fsikh ró-schakh ee pa-ljа́kh

mi-nút-ny rа́-das-ti fku-seе́-la
l’u-bóf vmech-tа́kh zla-týkh
mnje schа́s-ti-ye su-leе́-la
no shtósh das-tа́-las’ mnje fsikh rа́-das-nykh mes-tа́kh

ma-geе́-la

Queen of Spades, Polina’s Romance

Yes, I remember now!
Dear girl-friends! In your carefree playfulness
To a joyful tune you are playing in the fields

And just like you I lived in happy Arcady
I too, in the morning of my days, in these groves and fields

Tasted the short-lived joys
Love in my golden dreams
Promised nothing but happiness
But what is it I found in these places of joy?
A grave!

Printemps qui commence

Printemps qui commence.
Portant l’espérance
Aux coeurs amoureux,
Ton souffle qui passe
De la terre efface
Les jours malheureux.
Tout brûle en notre âme,
Et ta douce flamme
Vient sécher nos pleurs;
Tu rends à la terre,
Par un doux mystère,
Les fruits et les fleurs.
En vain je suis belle!
Mon coeur plein d’amour,
Pleurant l’infidèle,
Attend son retour!
Vivant d’espérance,
Mon couer désolé
Garde souvenance
Du bonheur passé!
A la nuit tombante
J’irai, triste amante,
M’asseoir au torrent,
L’attendre en pleurant
Chassant ma tristesse,
S’il revient un jour,
A lui ma tendresse
Et la douce ivresse,
Qu’un brûlant amour
Garde à son retour!

The first of Spring

The first of spring
bringing hope
to lovers’ hearts
your sigh rising
above the earth blots out
unhappy times.
everything burns in our souls
and your sweet flame
dries our tears.
you render to the earth
by a sweet mystery,
fruits and flowers.
In vain am I beautiful!
My heart is filled with love,
crying for my betrayer,
awaiting his return!
living with hope,
my desolate heart!
keeps memories
of past happiness
as the night falls
I shall go, sad lover,
to sit by the river
waiting for him while crying
chasing away my sadness
if he should come back one day
I shall give him my love
and sweet intoxication,
that a burning love may
keep until his return