Chaliapin concert for workers in Kyiv in 1906


“There were so many people that I had to reach concert hall by  drainpipe”.

In early 20 century luxurious Continental hotel was situated on place of white house of Philharmonic besides modern Independent Square. In 1906 famous opera singer Feodor Chaliapin stayed at this hotel.

He was top star of Russian empire and just rich Kiev citizens could allow to buy expensive tickets for his concerts .  Kiev trade union asked Chaliapin make a concert for workers. He was glad to do it as he himself came from Kazan poor family and wanted to do something for ordinary people. At that time there were so many workers in Kiev. Shalapin could not performed for all of them as in that time it was forbidden to do concert in squares as nowadays. Chaliapin chose circus besides his hotel that had 4500 seats. Chaliapin gave 4000 tickets to workers free of charge. They drew them in lottery.  He sold 500 to cover the rent. On the concert day there were so many people on the streets. 100 thousands workers occupied Kiev central streets. Everybody try to get into theater. Kiev mayor was afraid of  starting revolution movement. Chaliapin himself could not come into the circus. Together with his assistant he decided to get there through the roof. They opened a hotel window and went down by drainpipe to circus roof.

This trick was worth it. The workers met him with storm of applause. They did not used to Italian opera and asked something national one.

– “Since my childhood I remember “Dubinushka” song. The song is about hard worker’s life. 5 thousand voices accompanied me. I donated 3 000 ruble from the concert income to Trade Union and went to Italy”.

The workers were so exited by Chaliapin concert that they came to railway station to farewell him. But the police did not allow them go in. Then they came to the next station.  There train stayed just 2 minutes and workes  did standing ovation to their favorite singer.

Lying on the beach Côte d’Azur Chaliapin remained Kiev concert as the greatest job in his life. Such nice resting was interrupted by his wife who held Italian newspaper. The newspaper that Russian government is looking for Chaliapin who sponsored revolution organization by 3 000 rubles.

Chaliapin had to explain his confusion to his government.