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Theater & Opera

Georges Baklanoff – The Singing Roamer
 
George Baklanoff was born  in Riga, Latvia, then – part of the Russian empire. In 1892, after the tragic death of his parents, he moved to Kiev. Soon after the relocation, he decided to seriously pursue a career of a lawyer, enrolling – despite his young age – in both Kiev University and Saint Petersburg State University!
 
Unfortunately for the world of law and fortunately for the world of music, he had to give up studies when his guardian stole and squandered his inheritance and then committed suicide. 
 
After a short consideration, Georges, possessing a very strong voice, decided to try his luck in singing - he entered the Kiev Conservatory, graduated in1902 with honors and then spent two more years in training under Vittorio Vanza in Milan, Italy.
 
His talent and hard work paid off immediately: first he becomes a member of the Zimin Opera in Kiev, debuting with the title role in Rubinstein's The Demon, then joins both the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, and then makes his international debut...
 
In 1910, only six years after starting his professional career, Georges accepts invitations from three of the most important theater companies of the time: the Boston Opera Company (as The Miserly Knight), the Metropolitan Opera in New York City (as Verdi's Rigoletto), and the Royal Opera House in London (as Rigoletto and Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca)!
 
Engagements with theaters and operas all across the Old World and the New World followed: Komische Oper in Berlin, Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris,  Paris Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Vienna State Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, as well as several theaters in South America.
 
His command of multiple languages and his inborn acting skills made him the audience's favorite, and his incredibly flexible voice guaranteed him a constant stream of contracts.
 
In 1917, after the revolution in Russia, he moved to America and joined the Chicago Opera Association and Chicago Civic Opera, performing mainly at the Chicago Auditorium. In the 20s he also joined the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company, one of the most prestigeous companies in the United States during that period.
 
He was married  to soprano singer Lydia Lipkowska, but the relationship did not last long...
 
In 1932 Baklanoff moved to Basel, Switzerland, and started touring Europe, performing at the most important venues in Germany, Austria, Serbia and Chroatia, Finland, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland. He continued singing until his very death, having never retired.
 
George Baklanoff had had hugely varied repertoire and engagements all over the world, unusual language skills, as well as acting abilities that stunned the international audiences during his singing career, from 1903 until his untimely death in 1938.
 
Sources:
"Georges Baklanoff". Operissimo concertissimo.
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Folder: Philadelphia Civic Opera Company
 

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