Feodor Chaliapin’s bass voice — which once earned him the title of "the people’s singer" from Russia's Soviet regime — raised him from obscure poverty to world renown.
Chaliapin went to the United States in 1906 to sing at the Metropolitan, but it was not until his return to New York 16 years later that his art was acclaimed. His genius made him one of the highest paid operatic stars in the world.
The great opera stages of the world revered him, but he retained the tempestuous, unaffected personality of his youth when he was the shoeless, hungry son of a Russian peasant. Although Soviet Russia promised him a large income, it never could persuade him to return after the disappearance of the old Czarist Russia where his talent was first recognized.
Chaliapin had suffered recurrent kidney trouble in his last few years and spent two months each year at his villa in southern France or taking cures at European spas.
The singer, who frankly said he sang "for money," had treated his illness lightly. Although his condition steadily became worse, he joked with his nurses until shortly before he died. He died in his beautiful Paris apartment after a two-week illness of kidney ailments became complicated with anemia.