Baklanov, Georgy

Russian baritone, 1880 - 1938


BORN: Georgy [George, Georges] Andreyevich Baklanov [Bakkis], 23 December 1880. There is disagreement whether he was born in St Petersburg or Riga.

DIED: 6 December 1938, Basle (Switzerland).

FAMILY: His family came from Litvia. Married to the famous Russian soprano Lydia Lipkowska [Lipkovskaya], later divorced.

STUDIED: From his early years he showed signs of musical ability, but he began his studies at  High School, and eventually became a law student at St Petersberg University. The high standard of Russian-theatre tradition had such a great impact on the young Baklanov, that he decided to give up his plans for a a career as a lawyer and study singing instead. He worked with the famous Russian tenor and coach Ippolyt Pryanishnikov in St Petersburg and from 1902  with Vittorio Vanza in Milan.

DEBUT: Demon, The Demon (Kiev Opera, 1903).

ROLES: The Baron The Miserly Knight (Rakhmaninov); Lanceotto Francesca da Rimini (Rakhmaninov); Barnaba La Gioconda (Ponchielli); Escamillo Carmen (Bizet); Valentin Faust (Gounod); Nikalantha Lakmé (Délibes); Renato Un Ballo in maschera (Verdi); Rigoletto Rigoletto (Verdi); Scarpia Tosca (Puccini); Sebastiano Tiefland (D’Albert); Amonasro Aida (Verdi); Athanaël Thaïs (Massenet); Raimondo Isabeau (Mascagni); Onegin Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky); Hamlet Hamlet (Thomas); Boris Boris Godunov (Musorgsky); Vindex Nero (Rubinstein; Agamemnon Iphigénie en Aulide (Gluck); Hans Heiling Hans Heiling (Marschner); Iago Otello (Verdi); Tonio I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo); Méphistophélès Faust (Gounod); Ruslan Ruslan and Ludmilla (Glinka); the Father Louise (Charpentier); Golaud Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy); Telramund Lohengrin (Wagner); Wotan Die Walküre (Wagner); Manfredo L’Amore dei tre Re (Montemezzi); Gérard Andrea Chénier (Giordano); Guido Monna Vanna (Février); Marc-Antoine Cléopâtre (Massenet); Simonson Risurrezione (Alfano), Mister Wu Mister Wu (d’Albert).

COMPANIES & VENUES: Zimin Privat Opera, Moscow; The Bolshoi, Moscow (Imperial Opera House); Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburgh (1903-1917); Boston Opera (1909/1915-1918); Covent Garden (1910); Vienna Court Opera (1912-1916); Chicago Opera (1917-1928); Philadelphia Opera (1928-1935). Guest performances: Berliner Volksoper; Komische Berlin Berlin; Grand Opéra, Paris; Théàtre Sarah Bernhardt; Metropolitan Opera (just one performance); Munich Court Opera;  Budapest; Brünn (Brno); Vienna Volksoper;  Belgrade; Zagreb;  Zürich; Festival of Zoppot; Stadttheater Basle; Tours to Scandinavia and South America.

FIRST PERFORMANCES: The Miserly Knight (Imperial House of Moscow, 1906); Francesca da Rimini (Imperial House of Moscow, 1906); I Mori di Valenza (Opera Monte Carlo, 1914).

ALSO NOTEWORTHY: Baklanov was a ‘giant’ (standing six feet three and weighing more than two hundred pounds) with a striking personalitiy on stage as well as off. His skill in make-up was particularly admired. One of his greatest achievements was Boris Godunov, a role he sang not before 1925/1926. From 1932 he made his home in Switzerland.


As Vindex in Anton Rubinstein’s Nero


As Onegin


RECORDINGS (selection):

Recital (Arias by Verdi, Rubinstein, Ponchielli, Verdi, Bizet, Gounod, Délibes, Tchaikovsky, Leoncavallo, Thomas, Mozart, Berlioz, Borodin and Mussorgsky)

Preiser - LV

Waldoper Zoppot - Das Bayreuth des Nordens und seine Sänger


Singers of Russia 1900-1917 - Sergei Levik & Contemporaries



As Lanceotto (rare picture)


He was on of the most outstanding and impressive singing-actors of his time (he tried to transfer Konstantin Stanislawski’s theories to the opera stage).

Baklanov’s was a full, dark, baritone (or bass-baritone) voice of fine quality, the registers correctly blended over a wide range from the bass F to the G above middle C. Therefore, his vast repertory included baritone as well as bass roles.

As you can hear in the following example he used his voice to considerably effect in moments of dramatic intensity. There is undoubtedly too much rubato and marcato, but he makes an undeniable effect (the French call it ‘panache’) in a piece that gives the singer few other opportunities. He was certainly more remarkable for histrionic skill than musical imagination, but what a pleasure to listen to such a spledid voice like his!

 Vôtre toast (Escamillo in Carmen / Bizet / sung in Russian / Gramophone 1914)


As Escamillo (Covent Garden, 1910)


“He is no handsome dandy off a raisin box but a reticent, slightly sombre and deliberately mysterious matador.”

(Quantance Eaton: The Boston Opera Company; New York, 1957)


In the late twenties