Ershov, Ivan

Russian tenor, 1867 - 1943

In the title role of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sadko”

Biographical notes:

He was born near Rostow into a poor family. His voice was discovered while singing in a church choir. The composer Anton Rubinstein (!) advised him to study with the well-known teachers Gabel and Palatchek in St Petersburg. He also travelled to Italy for further studies with Cesare Rossi. After returning to Russia in 1894, he spent a season at the opera house of Kharkov. The following year he was contracted to the Mariinsky Theatre, where he remained a principal of the company for 34 years! His popularity in Russia was enormous and he was called “The Russian Tamagno.” He specialized in heroic parts such as Otello, Florestan, Tristan, Lohengrin, Siegfried and Tannhäuser. His Russian roles included Finn in Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila, and Grishka Kuterma in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, opposite the beautiful soprano Maria Kuznetsova . He was Berendy in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden, Sadko (Doubrovsky) and Tucha in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskow. Ivan Ershov was undouptedly the greatest Russian heroic tenor of his time. After his retirement he continued to sing in concerts and became a renowned singing coach at the Leningrad Conservatory.


As Raoul in Meyerbeer’s “Les Huguenots”



6 arias by Wagner, Verdi and Meyerbeer

Columbia 1903

Singers of Imperial Russia Vol. 1

Pearl (G&T 1903)


As Grishka Kuterma in “The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh”


Ivan  Ershov is not only one of the most exceptional of all Russian singers but also one of the most thrilling heroic tenors on records. The recordings present his voice in its absolute prime.

His voice is a true Heldentenor. His recordings belong to the first recorded of a voice of this huge size. Exceptional for me are all the nuances he brings to the music. He is a truly great singer of Meyerbeer’s music. He sings a thrilling Siegfried in the “Forging Scene.” Despite the moderate sound quality you can imagine how this Siegfried must have acted on the stage!

His G&T recordings on Pearl’s superb collection of “Singers of Imperial Russia”:

 Plus blanche que la blanche Hermine (Raoul in Les Huguenots / Meyerbeer)

- Pour Berthe, moi je soupire (Jean in Le Prophète / Meyerbeer)

- Versez! Que tout respire (Jean in Le Prophète / Meyerbeer)

- Hoho! Ho-Hei! - Forging Scene (Title role in Siegfried / Wagner)

- Songs and Dances of Death: Field-Marshall Death (Mussorgsky)

- O Child, Beneath thy Window (Tchaikovsky)

- The Seafarers, with Vasilij Sharonov (Vil’boa)


Many thanks to Carsten Fischer