Donets, Mykhailo

Image - Mykhailo Donets  (as Taras Bulba).

Donets, Mykhailo [Донець, Михайло; Donec’, Myxajlo], b 23 January 1883 in Kyiv, d 10 June 1941 in Kyiv. Renowned opera singer (bass) and theatrical figure; husband of Mariia Donets-Tesseir. From 1905 to 1913 he sang with the S. Zimin Opera Company in Moscow where he gained considerable acclaim. In 1909, together with Ivan Alchevsky, Donets organized the Ukrainian musical and dramatic ensamble Kobzar in Moscow whose concerts featured such artists as Antonina Nezhdanova, Mykola Sadovsky, and Mariia Zankovetska, and such Ukrainian cultural figures as Symon Petliura. In 1913 Donets returned to Kyiv where he became a soloist of the city’s opera theater. During the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20) he supported the Central Rada, advised its arts department, and sang Ukrainian art songs at patriotic rallies. In 1919 he was one of the organizers of the short-lived Muzychna Drama theater where he performed as soloist. Under Soviet rule Donets become a soloist with the Opera of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in Kyiv (see Kyiv Theater of Opera and Ballet). From 1923 to 1927 he was a soloist and active organizer of Ukrainian opera in Kharkiv. After 1927 he worked in Kyiv without interruption. Charged with ‘counter-revolutionary and nationalist activities,’ he was arrested by the NKVD on 2 July 1941, tortured, and executed.

Donets combined a powerful voice with theatrical talent. In the Ukrainian heroic repertoire, he created the monumental roles of Taras Bulba in Mykola Lysenko's opera of the same name, Zakhar Berkut in Borys Liatoshynsky's Zolotyi obruch (Golden Hoop), and Karas in Semen Hulak-Artemovsky's Zaporozhets’ za Dunaiem (Zaporozhian Cossack beyond the Danube). His roles in world repertoire included Coppélius, Dapertutto, and Miracle in J. Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, Don Basilio in G. Rossini's Barber of Seville, Lothario in A. Thomas's Mignon, and Nicalantha in L. Delibes's Lakmé. He taught at the Kyiv Conservatory. His recollections of the theater were published in Bil’shovyk (1932–9) in 1936.

Do 25-littia artystychnoï diial’nosty M.I. Dontsia. Zbirnyk stattei (Kyiv 1933)
Stefanovych, M. Mykhailo Ivanovych Donets’ (Kyiv 1965)

Valeriian Revutsky, Marko Robert Stech

[This article was updated in 2013.]

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