Covid claims a great Russian bass

Covid claims a great Russian bass


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2021

The powerful bass Evgeny Nesterenko has died in Vienna, from the effects of Covid-19.

His family reported the death to Tass via the Elena Obraztsova Foundation. He was 83.

Nesterenko joined the Leningrad Kirov Theatre (now the Mariinsky) in 1967 and was poached four years later by the Bolshoi, where he sang 80 roles over three decades. He also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden and other major venues.



  • Uncle Sam says:

    RIP, Master! Nobody sings like THIS today – and I doubt that anybody will EVER do:

  • William Evans says:

    Very sad news. My condolences to Mr Nesterenko’s family and friends.

  • inaustria says:

    What a shame! I had the honor of singing with him, many years ago. I was a nobody, but years later ran into him in the airport where he warmly greeted me by name. RIP.

  • Ferdinand Müller says:

    RIP NESTERENKO. A great and wonderful bass voice.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    He certainly was a great bass. His Boris was second to none, and he was a marvelous Verdian as well.
    Rest in Peace, honored Maestro.

  • yujafan says:

    A true great, RIP Maestro.

  • Edgar Se;f says:

    From the name, probably of Ukrainian descent. A marvelous singer of Shostakovich vocal symphonies and song-cycles. I am sorry to read of his death.

  • Zandonai says:

    RIP Best Boris Godunov.

    • Joel Kemelhor says:

      In 1975, the Bolshoi gave performances at the Kennedy Center here in Washington. I heard Nesterenko in the title part of BORIS GODUNOV and as Prince Gremin in EUGENE ONEGIN.
      In the latter role Nesterenko, still in his 30’s, sang wonderfully and looked far from senior. During the applause after Gremin’s aria, the woman seated next to me said, “Tatiana — forget about Onegin !”

  • Ernest says:

    RIP Maestro! Your voice will live on ..

  • David Shengold says:

    Actually Nesterenko never appeared “with” the Metropolitan Opera, although he appeared in the theater when the Bolshoi toured there. These things take 40 seconds, tops, to check; and then when they are incorrectly reported they are widely copied around the world. His main engagement with a US opera company was Philip in a 1979 San Francisco DON CARLO.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Sometimes fact checking is quietly outsourced to commentators like us.

      Another example from this blogpost: it doesn’t seem like Nesterenko was “poached” from the Bolshoi.

      It’s all in the Wikipedia entry:

      “Nesterenko’s first profession was architecture, and in fact he graduated from the Saint-Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Leningrad. But he was called to music, and he studied under Vasily Lukanin[1] at the Leningrad Conservatory.[2] At his last year at the conservatory (1965) Nesterenko was invited to sing at Leningrad’s Maly Opera (now Mikhailovsky) Theatre and after graduation joined the famous Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre. He won the gold medal at the 4th Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition, which gave him entrée to Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre.[2]”

      • David Shengold says:

        Indeed. Even after I and others pointed out the fallacy of “The Italian soprano Rosanna Carteri, who sang Desdemona in Wilhelm Furtwängler’s 1952 Salzburg Otello” and the resultant headline, and even after Mr Lebrecht in an e-mail thanked me and said he would correct it, it remains on the site as before. Is this laziness? Arrogance? Does he not care if people trust the information he disseminates here?

    • Greg Bottini says:

      I heard that Don Carlo, David, and Nesterenko was superb.

  • Bill Ecker says:

    The last of the legendary bassos of the Soviet period, RIP. I had the privilege of meeting him and talking with him at a dinner when the Bolshoi was in NYC 1991. What a great man the world has lost.

  • Nick2 says:

    I had the enormous pleasure of hearing him in a recital of Russian songs at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow in 1987 and then briefly meeting him thereafter. It was a freezing February evening but I had been so bowled over by his performance that I walked most of the way back to my hotel. RIP and sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  • Flannery Monaghan-Morris says:

    Oh no. Not another legend lost…RIP maestro. Seriously, this disease is awful.