Izvestia - All-Russia issue
From M Babalova’s article, The Opera Singer Dmitri Khvorostovski: ‘Deja-vu Is Not Pop, Basically It’s Classical Singing
Tomorrow Moscow will see a sharp turn in the biography of the world-known baritone Dmitri Khvorostovski. The singer will present the Deja-vu project created specially for him by the composer Igor Krutoi, on the stage of the Kremlin Palace.
The Izvestia music critic met Dmitri Khvorostovski on the eve of the intriguing show’s premiere.
Q: ‘Judging from the TV broadcast of that concert one may have thought that you are on a friendly footing with Joseph Kobzon…’
A: ‘We are not friends but we enjoyed being together in Yurmala. Kobzon is our everything. Our history and our best singing tradition. It’s what I was brought up on. I have infinite respect for the man, for his professionalism and determination.’
Vest (newspaper, Kaluga)
From I Ivanova’s article, A Journey On the Virgin Soil Planet
…On 14th-15th November an all-Russian forum took place in Moscow. About 6,000 ‘soldiers’ of construction gangs, from those who built the Baikal-Amur Railway to participants in the Sochi Olympic project, flew into Moscow to talk, share their experience and their wonderful songs. They were welcomed by the head of the presidential administration S Naryshkin and deputy Moscow mayor L Shvetsova and entertained by Russian star singers and music groups. Joseph Kobzon delivered an emotional pep talk and sang I Love You, Life! - the song loved by several generations.
Bereg (newspaper, Voronezh)
From Yu Kireyeva’s article, My Life Is a Fantasy Thriller
Valeria is one of the few Russian stars who can afford to sing live. After a two-hour concert in Voronezh - the singer always puts her all into her performance – she found time to talk to the Bereg correspondent.
‘You once said that your mother was against you becoming a career singer. She wanted her daughter to be an historian. Do you allow your children the right to choose?’
‘No, my mother just wanted me to find a career I would enjoy. It was I who wanted to be an historian. Or, rather, not so much to be an historian as to study at Moscow State University. Because I had heard that there was an excellent amateur dramatics club. But then I heard that the Gnesin Institute had a new pop song department, so I went for an audition. I was interviewed by Joseph Kobzon and there was a funny episode. While I was singing my mother peeped in and said: ‘Joseph Davydovich, just tell us honestly if she is gifted or not. If not, we will be going then… We have got all As so we’ll be accepted anywhere?’ Kobzon raised his eyebrows: ‘It’s the first time I meet a mother like you. Normally we are begged to take them on!”’
Moskovskaya Pravda (newspaper)
From V Smirnov’s article, Gradski’s Anniversary
Last Sunday (9th November) saw the culmination of Alexander Gradski’s marathon birthday celebrations, a three-hour concert at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. In the first half, the 60-year-old maitre sang Neapolitan canzones and old romances, accompanied by the Osipov national academic orchestra of Russian folk instruments. The highlight of the evening was Joseph Kobzon coming on stage with a fabulous bouquet. They sang together Nich Yaka Misyachna (A Moonlit Night ).
Vecherni Saransk (newspaper, Saransk)
From the article, The Part Of the Master
Alexander Gradski completed his opera The Master and Margarita for his 60th birthday.
With Gradski, art always comes first. And he cannot understand his colleagues who live differently.
‘I attempted to invite Anna Netrebko to sing the part of Margarita, and Dmitri Khvorostovsky the part of Woland in The Master and Margarita. But it did not work… I remember 1988, when the composer and conductor Evgeni Svetlanov asked me to sing the part of the Stargazer in the opera The Golden Cockerel. To do this I had to cancel a six-month tour. Tours in those times brought in the bacon. I just asked him where I needed to be and at what time. This was not the response I got from my nominees… Either I am not Svetlanov or they are not me… But Joseph Kobzon did come to the recording session. And mind you, at 10 that morning he’d had medical treatment of the kind that would normally put the person out of circulation for a week. It was over by midday and at 2pm he was recording. And his singing was superb! This is the way to treat art and – friends!
Delovoi Peterburg (newspaper, St Petersburg)
From the article, An Auction to Help an Orphanage
On 24th November at 19.00, the Spbpresent agency in association with the Imperial China Factory and the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel will hold the Third Charity Star Auction at the Palkin restaurant (47 Nevski Prospect). Items being auctioned include china tigers hand-painted by celebrities from the world of art and culture. The action is supported by Madonna, Patricia Kaas, Goran Bregovich, Frederik Begbeder, Joseph Kobzon, Alla Pugacheva, Vyacheslav Malafeyev and many others. The funds raised will be used to buy New Year presents for Orphanage No 53 in Vyborg district.
Item No. 5 (25-hour TVC)
PRESENTER: The Ombudsman for Children’s Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, Alexei Golovan, is in the 25-hour studio today. Good evening, Alexei! There is an interesting current trend in Russia in which celebrities such as Joseph Kobzon, Anita Tsoi, Chulpan Khamatova, Olga Budina and Gosha Kutsenko use their name to help children, donate money or offer direct assistance to them, while their names serve to publicise the problem of needy children.
Vechernyaya Moskva (newspaper)
From the article Alla Pugachyova and Joseph Kobzon Are Awarded a Star of Chernobyl
Winners of the 2009 International Star of Chernobyl Prize for achievement in literature and the arts attended the award ceremony in the guests of honour hall at the Moscow Town Hall.
Among the first to be awarded this prestigious prize were: Valery Legasov, Hero of Russia, member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences; People’s Artist of the USSR Alla Pugachyova; People’s Artist of the USSR Joseph Kobzon; Nikolai Ryzhkov, former Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers and current member of the RF Federations Council; writer Elena Kozlova, participant in the post-accident clean-up at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station and holder of an Order for Bravery; and People’s Artist of Russia Nikolai Selivanov.
K Paderina: Nelly Kobzon: ‘Everything Now Depends on the Health and Mood of my Husband. As Always’
At the beginning of November Joseph and Nelly Kobzon celebrated their 38th anniversary. All these years they have been, as they vowed, together in joy and sorrow. The singer’s wife told Kseniya Paderina why Joseph wanted a bullet-proof vest, and why her mother always sided with her son-in-law.
Date and place of birth:
11th September, 1937, Chasov Yar, Donetsk region (Ukraine)
Zodiac sign – Virgo:
Family: wife – Nelly Kobzon; son – Andrei (35), businessman; daughter – Natalia Rappoport, (33), housewife; granddaughters – Idel Rappoport (10), Polina Kobzon (9), Michelle Rappoport (8), Anita Kobzon (7) and Arnella Rappoport (5); grandson Mikhail Kobzon (nearly two).
Education: Dnepropetrovsk Mining Technical College, Gnesin’s music teachers’ institute (vocals).
Career: recorded over 3,000 songs, toured over 100 countries. People’s Artist of the USSR, Member of the Russian State Duma. Entered in Russia’s Book of Records as the most award-winning artist in the country. Honoured Citizen of 29 cities in the CIS countries.
Preferences: in food – borsch; in beverages – compote; in cars – Mercedes.
On 27th July, 2009, a black car pulled up at the Rizhsky Station in Moscow. Joseph Kobzon got out first, followed by his faithful life’s companion, Nelly. Together, they walked leisurely towards the train leaving for Yurmala in 15 minutes. The couple were on their way to the New Wave Song Contest. The passers-by bustling past twisted their necks to gaze after them. All last week the papers reported that Kobzon had had surgery at the Kashira Oncology Centre. The singer did not look as though he were seriously ill at all! Seemingly unaware of the surprised looks, Joseph Davydovich handed Nelly gently into the carriage. His face radiated calm and confidence. Two days later he was on the stage in Yurmala singing I Love You, Life!. Many in the audience listened with tears in their eyes. Because there had been an operation, and the disease was there.
‘My husband is a very strong person,” Nelly Kobzon told the TN. ‘If he is in low spirits or not feeling well, he plunges into work straight away. He will not let himself complain, moan, snivel or lose control of himself. He keeps all his pain and suffering to himself. Looking at my husband, I cannot help admiring him! I basically have never met anyone like him anywhere. Meeting him was a huge gift from heaven for me. We have two children, six grandchildren and an enormous number of friends. Thank God, my mother is alive and well as are his two brothers and a sister. We are all very close. And Joseph Davydovich is the head of our big family.
A bullet-proof vest for Kobzon
‘I don’t like questions about Joseph’s health. I am superstitious and don’t want to peep into the future. As far as I am concerned, he came on, sang, bowed and left the stage on his own feet – and thank God for that. He often parries these questions by quoting Faina Ranevskaya: “How am I? In keeping with my passport data!” Having said that, his age does not stop him from singing, teaching or travelling around the country on his parliamentary business. Yes, he has to see doctors periodically and go in for operations… Joseph is treated in Russia as doctors are good and all he needs is here. We have not yet even considered foreign treatment options. We do not reject the help of doctors from other countries, such as Germany or Israel. I am all for trying every available method and taking advantage of expertise coming from different schools of medicine. But to do it, you do not have to fly anywhere. It is the 21st century after all, there is the Internet, electronic mail and you can call a proper council of physicians without leaving your home. The disease did not start yesterday and Joseph cannot be having treatment abroad all his life.
“I will be honest with you: Joseph is hurt by newspaper tittle-tattle about his health. I pay no attention to it – read it and forget it. But I try not to show such articles to my husband. He is an artist and tends to take everything close to heart.
Joseph gets upset but I reassure him: ‘Look, you are just too much in public view. And idle gossip is merely the flipside of popularity. You need to wear a bullet-proof vest to protect your heart from it!’
Vodka or flowers?
“I am a morning lark. I always wake up very early while Joseph is still fast asleep and having dreams. I get up very quietly and take my morning cup of coffee in front of the telly watching news programmes and then tell Joseph the most interesting bits over breakfast. Breakfast together is sacrosanct, it is our old ritual. Everybody knows that it is best to leave us alone at that time. This is how it has been for many-many years.
“Although the Russian folklore holds it that the wife is the neck, I cannot agree with that. I have no need to twist my husband – we always look in the same direction anyway. The years have bound us so tightly together that we even think in the same way. Our roots, like those of two trees, have got so tightly intertwined that there is no telling which are his and which are mine.
‘In April of 1971, I, an ordinary Soviet girl, traveled from Leningrad to Moscow to visit a friend. One evening we went to see a friend of hers. That friend’s husband, Emil Radov, worked at Mosconcert and was a well-known conférencier. They often entertained artists and held music and literary soirées. That evening however everybody opted to watch the film The White Sun of the Desert on the telly. As I was looking for somewhere to sit, a nice young man got up and offered me his seat: “Would you like to sit here?” This was Joseph. Later on, when everybody was leaving, he made me another offer:
‘Let me show you Moscow! It is only 11pm, you are not going to bed yet, are you?’
‘But I retorted that I was brought up too strictly and my mother would hardly approve of a night walk with a man I scarcely knew.
‘On hearing me say that, he became all smiles. Refraining from any attempt to put pressure on me, he asked me to have dinner with him at a restaurant the following day. We saw each other every day, went to cafes and theatres or simply walked about. When I returned to Leningrad a few days later, I immediately told my mother that we might get a visit from a certain young man soon.
‘If he comes with a bunch of flowers, we will have a chat. If he brings a bottle of vodka, he will get the heave-ho,’ was all Mother said.
‘Joseph called me several times a day and sent picture-cards from all the cities where he performed, then he came to Leningrad during the May Day holidays and headed straight for the place where my mother and I lived. He found our house, got up the staircase and froze in front of the plaque on our door: “Showcase Residence”. He loves cleanliness and order. “If the mother keeps her home in mint condition,” he thought, “she must have brought up her daughter in the same way.” And he pressed the doorbell. My mother in the meantime was making her own conclusions on the other side of the door. She looked through the peep-hole, saw a bunch of pink carnations and opened the door. She adores Joseph now. They are on the best of terms, it is love made in heaven. But at the time there were many things that worried her. He was an artist, had been married twice and was 13 years older than me.
‘She only gave her blessing to our marriage three months later when we went together for a holiday in Sochi in August. There she at last had a chance to spend some time with him and to see how honest, upright and intelligent he was. When Joseph celebrated his birthday on 11th September at the Arbat restaurant, he introduced me to all his guests as his bride. We had our wedding in November.
‘When as newly-weds Joseph and I had some squabbles and Mother took his side, I fretted:
“Mum, I am your daughter after all, why are you not defending my interests rather than his?”
‘Now, years later, I understand that my mother is simply a very intelligent woman. Should a mother take her daughter’s side, it will but aggravate the conflict! Nowadays, when my daughter does not see eye to eye with her husband, I side with my son-in-law. This is practical wisdom and it is right.
‘It still happens to Joseph and I to fall out. I may blurt something out without thinking and Joseph would get the hump. He is so hot-tempered! He never stores it up but explodes straight away. It is natural for him to show his emotions. Then I start making up to him: “I am sorry, I did not want to hurt you…” Luckily he does not stay angry with me for a long time.
“With the passing of years I came to understand that I also had Joseph’s mother to thank for getting him as my husband. Ida Isaevna was a strong and intelligent woman who knew exactly what she did and did not want. She did not want her son to marry yet another artist: Joseph’s first two marriages had shown what that could result in. She wanted her son to have a quiet and happy family life, a cosy home and children. I appeared to her to be able to provide all that. I fitted the bill in every way. Nor did I let her down.
‘My mother-in-law had a hard life. When the war started she was left on her own with three young children. Her husband was gone to fight in the war so she had to take care of everything. It was up to her to make arrangements for the evacuation of her parents and her disabled brother. But she rose to the occasion in every way. A woman of strong character and iron will. In Dnepropetrovsk she held Party ticket No 2, Brezhnev’s was No 1.
‘I had never seen such love, adoration and absolute obedience to the mother as reigned in Joseph’s family. God, the emperor, the ideal – this is what the mother was to her children. Seeing this kind of attitude, my intuition told me that a good son means a good husband! If a man loves and respects his mother, he will treat his wife and children the same way.
‘Joseph’s mother was the only person who supported her son’s decision to go to Moscow to audition for the Gnesins Institute. It was in 1959, right after Joseph completed his army service. While in the army, he had taken part in amateur dramatics contests and his singing made such an impression that he was invited to join the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Transcaucasian Military Command. There he got into training with professional teachers and it had given him the idea that singing could actually become his career.
‘Few of those who knew him believed he would be accepted. He had no other clothes except his soldier’s uniform. Three roubles in his pocket and no one waiting for him in the capital. But he was determined to have a go at it. And he was accepted straight away at three places: the Gnesins Institute, the Merzlyakov Conservatoire College and the State Institute of Dramatic Art. He chose the Gnesins because they treated him with warmth and understanding.
‘Complete strangers helped Joseph to settle down in Moscow. This gave him such an encouragement, set such a powerful example that he made a decision, once and for all, that he too would do his best to never turn away anyone asking for help. This became a kind of a sacred duty for him.
‘I used to wonder: “Why does it have to be you, Joseph, who must help? There are other artists and singers - famous, great, intelligent, important people – but it does not even occur to anyone to approach them! No one petitions them for help! Why does our every morning have to start with a string of phone calls? Everyone has their troubles: a death, an illness, a car accident… Why do all those woes converge on us from early morning?”
‘I am an ordinary person. Always happy to help someone close but I have no use for other people’s problems. But Joseph seems to have taken on a mission – to help, unquestioningly, without a demur. He does not ask: “Why have you come to me?” He will listen and do everything he can.
‘“God helps those who help others” – this is about Joseph. I believe that it is for the countless good deeds he has done that life rewards him in full measure.
‘I remember a few years ago Joseph had a birthday concert. There were lots of friends, artists – it was “our” audience. In the middle of the evening, Valery Leontiev mounted the stage and announced:
“Raise your hands those of you who have ever turned to Kobzon for help, with a request or a question!”
‘And the audience was transformed into a forest of hands.
My husband’s costumes are my business
‘My work records began when I was 16 with a job at the Admiralty Plant in Leningrad. Since then, I worked continuously all my life and retired, like all Soviet women, at 55. There was not a single day in my life when I sat doing nothing.
‘After our wedding, I went to work as Kobson’s dresser at Mosconcert. I am still his dresser – I like it and I understand the way he should look. He has a certain stage image that has been developed over the years. His audiences would not appreciate him wearing trainers, jeans and a T-shirt. I would not like it either. His stage outfit suits him best. I believe that the way he dresses must match his status, position and reputation.
‘His everyday clothes are my business as well. Sometimes shops where our family is a regular client will, by way of a favour, let me take clothes home to try them on. I choose a few outfits, show them to my husband and we decide together what is suitable and what is not. I like doing this.
‘In the mid-1970s I started appearing on stage as my husband’s show presenter. I had by then graduated from the All-Russian Variety Arts Studio as ‘a vocal genres artist’. Those were crazy times: lots of concerts, travelling, cities and countries. Joseph would give two, three, four concerts a day. It seemed sometimes that I lived with my concert robe and make-up on. And, mind you, I had not been relieved of my duties as dresser. Suitcases had to be packed and unpacked, costumes to be made ready for every performance. Conditions were, of course, quite different from what they are now. Hard benches to sleep on in open-plan carriages, hotel accommodation with outdoor toilets. And, if it was winter, freezing cold…
‘The last concert would normally finish at 11 pm, at which time dinner is out of the question. Restaurants closed at 10 and no one had heard of room service. So I used the breaks between concerts to dash to a shop for some bread and sausages, to stock up on food. Then, back at our hotel at night, I would serve my husband sandwiches and tea.
‘All our life was on the run but we were having fun. Work was a joy, not a hardship. We played backgammon and preference and found time to go hiking, fishing and partying with friends. In a word, we were young and a lack of home comforts did not bother us too much.
‘Five years after our wedding, when our second child, a daughter, was born I had to abandon touring for a while. I spent some time staying at home looking after the children. I had my own car, a zhiguli, which at the time was like it would now be to have a private jet. I drove it around Moscow, taking my children to school, to the swimming pool, to tennis courts and to choir rehearsals. Our son was a soloist with the Radio and Television Choir conducted by Popov. Once I knew I could leave the children in the care of my mother and a nanny, I once again returned to touring with my husband.
‘Joseph and I did our best to be with our children all through the school and public holidays: they needed their father, they missed him. When Andrei and Natasha were a bit older we started taking them on tours with us. We lived like Gipsies: pack the bags and off we go. Fortunately, the children behaved very properly on tours; nomadic life seemed to suit them. In the early 1990s, while we were working with a circus in the US, our teenage daughter learnt to walk on a tight rope and even performed in the arena. Our son played the drums in the circus band.
‘Today our children are no longer involved with show business. Natasha has graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and turned into a competent, energetic, charming young woman. She speaks three languages. She is not working at the moment, having three children to look after. Her youngest, Arnella, is still very young. But her elder daughters are at school in London. The middle one, Michelle, has been enrolled at a school for high flyers. She writes poetry in both English and Russian. She is an unusual child and we would like to give her all the knowledge and all the opportunities we can. Our son Andrei is a businessman. He too has three children. Grandchildren are the greatest joy in our family. They are all different, all wonderful. I will be happy if Natasha and Andrei have more children. They are still young enough so why not?
We must think positively!
‘Family life with Joseph is a perpetual challenge for me. God has given him a crazy energy, unbelievable industry and commitment. I am constantly stretching, straining, trying to catch up with him. Until I drop, exhausted... It is difficult to be a match for my husband, it is hard even in the physical sense.
‘He is on the go all the time. He even sleeps less than ordinary people do. Normal sleeping time is 7-8 hours but he can do with five to be fully recharged. He is a workaholic. He would always rather work than sleep.
‘The worst days for Joseph are his days off when he has nothing to occupy himself with. When there is no concert, no work, he does not quite know what to do.
‘His idea of harmonious life is when everything is planned and every minute has been allocated. When he is totally busy, late to be somewhere, hurrying, catching up, overcoming, just making it – this is the ultimate bliss for him. This is when he stores up energy, I think, and his soul is at peace. It is important for him to be kept on his toes, in the heat of work, to an impossible schedule.
‘Everything now depends on my husband’s health, on how he feels – as always really.
‘If he is well, I feel happy. I can plan trips, visits, time with friends - our normal life.
‘My mother and I recently had a little argument about disease. I said:
“Look, mum, all humanity is incurably ill in a way. Our life always ends in death – this is a law of nature. But you can approach it in different ways. I believe that we must think positively and reject all negative feelings. You wake up in the morning – rejoice! Thank God for good weather, the sun, the fresh air.
‘This is how Joseph is trying to live. He has still got so many things to do! He must live to plant new trees at his beloved dacha, to be at his grandchildren’s weddings, to record the new songs that he has got in his writing desk.
‘I have no interests of my own, which are separate from his. I regard it as an honour to serve him, to work for him, to look after him. I cannot give him my blood – he does not need it. I am not cutting my fingers off nor throwing myself on the railway tracks. I am simply trying to be by his side and help in every way I can.’
Political CLASS (magazine)
From I. Tikhonova’s article, Russia Eight Years with Putin
The book Russia Eight Years with Putin is composed of speeches by and interviews with persons who are well-known in Russia and throughout the world.
It includes large analytical reviews by the Chairman of the Federations Council Sergei Mironov, the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev, the Head of the North Osetian Republic Alania Taimuraz Mamsurov, the Head of the Republic of Karelia Sergei Katanandov, the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Georgy Boos, the Governor of the Kurgan Region Oleg Bogomolov and others. A total of 78 people are quoted in the book. These are eminent state and public figures, governors, scholars, businessmen, celebrities from the world of art and culture and sportsmen. This is to say, those who had an influence over political, economic and cultural developments in Russia in the early 21st century. Among them are: the musicians Yuri Bashmet and Vladimir Spivakov, the artist Nikas Safronov, the artistic director of the Lenkom Theatre Mark Zakharov, the singer Joseph Kobzon, the international chess grand master Anatoli Karpov, the well-known hockey player Vitali Davydov and the vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee Vladimir Vasin.
Moskovskaya Nedelya (TVC)
From N. Petrova’s article, 14:50. Item No. 6
PRESENTER: ‘Moscow received a few dozen unusual guests last week. Alas, they did not have a chance to see much of the capital. This is because prison vans have no windows. Last Friday the now traditional festival, Amnesty of the Soul, took place in Moscow. The productions were put on by inmates from young offenders’ open prisons. Yulia Bogomanshina was backstage.’
CORR: ‘Joseph Kobzon has been giving singing master classes at the festival for the last three years.’
Joseph Kobzon, member of the Amnesty of the Soul Festival’s panel: ‘They are somewhat different when they return from the festival. Their mentality has changed. They have seen beautiful women, wholesome young men. They want to be free, they want to be part of normal life. And they will certainly do something to make this happen sooner.’
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