Nezhdanova, Antonina

Russian soprano, 1873 - 1950

As Volkhova in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sadko”

Biographical notes:

Antonina Nezhdanova’s parents were school teachers. Her father had a nice tenor voice and her mother was a fine soprano. Her musical talent developed at quite an early age. Her father formed an amateur choir with which she made her first solo debut at the age of seven! She progressed rapidly in the arts of singing, acting and dancing. After studies in Odessa, she graduated from Umberto Masetti’s famous class at the Moscow conservatory in 1902 (among other students: Nadezhda Obukhova and Nina Koshetz). She was immediately engaged at the Bolshoi, where she remained for nearly 40 years, singing leading roles in Russian and west European operas, most frequently opposite star tenor Leonid Sobinov. In 1912 she was Gilda at the Paris Opéra. Some outstanding roles of her huge repertory: Ludmilla in Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla, Tatyana, Lakmé, the Snow Maiden, Volkhova, Elsa (!) and Rosina, Marfa and Antonida. Nezhdanova entered into the communist era with apparent enthusiasm. In 1922 it was felt that selected Russian artists should visit places abroad to convince the West that Russia had not descend into utter barbarism. Nezhdanova was ambassadress in this, appearing in Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, the Baltic capitals and other cities in Germany and Poland. In the USSR she was among the most honoured singers and teachers, continuing throughout Worldwar II. She received several of the country’s highest awards. From 1936 she taught at the Stanislavsky Opera Studio, later at the Bolshoi Opera Studio, and finally at the Moscow Conservatory from 1943 until 1950.


In the title role of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Snegurochka” (The Snow Maiden, Act 1)


As Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” (Letter Scene)



Recital (Arias and songs by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, David, Gounod, Bizet, Auber, Meyerbeer)


Greates Voices of Bolshoi


Singers of Imperial Russia Vol. 4


Rimsky-Korsakov performed by his Contemporaries

Russian Disc

Singers of Russia 1900 - 1917


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 1



As Tatyana (rare photograph from my collection)


In the title role of Massenet’s “Manon” (Act 5)


This singer is one of the greatest representatives of the Russian (-Italian) school.  Hers is a beautiful, firm and pure voice and she sings with a phenomenal coloratura technique (trills and staccati!).

Nezhdanova often went to the theatre and heard singers like Tetrazzini, Boronat, Anselmi, Battistini, Ruffo and Scotti! She was very impressed by their singing. She admired Medea Mei-Figner. Her recording are a “must”.

She was not the only great Russian soprano in her epoch... I also recommend you to listen to Medea Mei-Figner, Maria Kuznetsova, Natalia Yermolenko-Juzhina, Maria Michailova and Lydia Lipkowska, to name but a few.



My favorite recordings (all in Russian):

- Je veux vivre (Juliette in Roméo et Juliette / Gounod / Gramophone 1906)

- Ah, thou my fate (Ludmilla in Ruslan and Ludmilla / Glinka / Gramophone 1907)

- O beau pays (Marguerite in Les Huguenots / Meyerbeer / Gramophone 1908)

- Einsam in trüben Tagen (Elsa in Lohengrin / Wagner / Gramophone 1910)

 Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen (Elsa in Lohengrin / Wagner / Gramophone 1910)

- Das süsse Lied verhallt with Leonid Sobinov (Elsa in Lohengrin / Wagner / Gramophone 1910)

- Vien diletto (Elvira in I Puritani / Bellini / Gramophone 1912)

- Der Hölle Rache (Queen of Night in Die Zauberflöte / Mozart / Gramophone 1912)