Somehow, going up the subway escalator, I suddenly heard my favorite since childhood "Cranes" performed by a surprisingly familiar voice. I got off the escalator and couldn't believe my eyes: Nikolai Ryabukha was singing in the metro lobby! I have repeatedly heard this singer at the best venues in Moscow, admired his velvety and, at the same time, powerful baritone, but did not expect to see him in such an unusual setting. Nikolai sang, people stopped and, forgetting their deeds, stood and listened to this magical voice with bated breath. We met with Nikolai Ryabukha at the House of Scientists, where his solo concert was to take place that evening, and talked about the beginning of his career, about idols of the past and favorite mentors, about an invitation to the Vienna Opera and Alexandra Pakhmutova’s nominal scholarship, about dreams and plans for the future.
- Nikolai, how did it happen that you sang in the subway?
– The project “Music in the Metro” has existed since 2017, I have been participating in it for the third season. I believe that this is the pride of Moscow: there are no analogues not only in other cities of Russia, but throughout the world. Thanks to this project, you can visit the performances of high-class artists at 24 metro sites completely free of charge.
- How do you feel when you eat in such an unusual place?
- The most positive. True, at first there was a slight stiffness, because I did not know how the passengers would react. I don't like to impose my creativity. But after the first performance, my opinion changed dramatically. I saw that people like it: they stop, listen, and then come up and thank you. And the acoustics in the metro are wonderful, no worse than in the Bolshoi Theater or the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. I know that many artists dream of singing there because of this amazing acoustics.
- You performed at many venues, which one did you like the most?
- Probably, the Hall of Church Councils of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Firstly, this is a holy place of prayer, probably the only place where both services and concerts are held - I feel the energy. In general, I like all the halls in which I perform. For example, the House of Scientists, where we are now. This is an old mansion with several halls where meetings, concerts and performances are held. Today I speak in the Great Hall.
What is your repertoire made up of?
– As a rule, I choose songs that resonate in my heart. But in general, I prefer to consult with my listeners. Recently I have been active in social networks: I publish notes about performances and ask subscribers to write what songs they would like to hear. Here is today's concert, for example, "Songs from the Movies", completely composed of requests from listeners.
– Tell us about your childhood. What kind of music did you play at home?
– I was born in Kharkov. He grew up surrounded by music: his grandfather played the button accordion, the songs of Muslim Magomayev and Valery Meladze sounded. For example, "Jamaica" especially sunk into my heart, I subsequently performed it in almost every of my performances. There you need to pull a note for a very long time, and that's what I liked about singing as a child. In general, he sang from an early age, not yet fully pronouncing the letters.
So you started singing before you spoke?
- You can say that. My parents sent me to a creative studio at the age of three, because they saw that there were abilities worth trying to develop. I remember how at the age of four I stood on stage and was afraid. I then had a solo ringing part, and I think I coped with it, there is even a recording of this performance. The song was called "Oh, for Guy, Guy", and the vocal studio in which I studied was "Cossacks-Dudariki".
Are you still nervous before going on stage?
- Of course I'm worried. But it doesn't compare to the first time, when you don't know how people will react. There was fear not from the fact that I would not be able to sing, but from how my singing would be perceived.
- Do you remember yourself at the age of 12, when there was a breaking of the voice?
- As a child, I had a high sonorous voice - treble, and now - almost the lowest, bass-baritone. The change in the vocal apparatus was difficult morally: for this period the doctor forbade me to sing. I could not imagine my life without creativity, which is probably why I found myself in writing music, and later songs. The voice change lasted 3-4 years. And he got stronger three years later during classes with my vocal teacher Lilia Ivanova at the Kharkov Musical College. The most crucial moment is the setting of breathing. Fortunately, it only took me 2-3 sessions. I consider myself lucky to have a teacher! We met at one of the music competitions for vocalists, in which I already took part with a low voice - at that time I performed solo, and not as part of a team. I started taking vocal lessons from her, and our creative match allowed me to learn them quickly. At the same time, I met my mentor in writing arrangements, Alexander Keleberda.
What kind of poetry and music did you compose at that time?
- Mostly lyrical. Perhaps this was due to worries about the ban on singing.
- Did you have any idols?
- Of course, this is Muslim Magomayev. He has always been, is and will be an example for me and for many other performers for many years to come. First of all, I perceive him as a creative person of great magnitude. Muslim Magometovich wrote a lot of beautiful, magnificent music. One "Blue Eternity" is worth something! Even in his first appearance on stage, he was distinguished by the fact that he accurately conveyed the text load. The Soviet school, in general, was famous for its careful attitude to the text. Suffice it to recall Joseph Kobzon, Maya Kristalinskaya, Yuri Gulyaev, Georg Ots - they have a large component of understanding the text. Now music and culture have a great responsibility to help people survive difficult events.
- You graduated from the Lyceum in Chuguev and came to Moscow ...
- I am a computer programmer by training. And I received this specialty, because my parents were not sure that I could earn money by artistic activity. But, despite this, he never gave up creativity, developed, wrote songs, poems, music, and, of course, sang.
And then Tatyana Bogatikova saw me at one of the concerts in Moscow, she was the editor of this concert. She liked my timbre, and she introduced me to Alexander Chvanov, at that time the deputy dean of the Faculty of Culture and Art of the Moscow University for the Humanities. I entered this faculty in the direction of "Musical Variety Art". There are wonderful teachers, a good school. I had the honor to receive a nominal scholarship, which was established by Alexandra Nikolaevna Pakhmutova. Thus, I met her and her wonderful husband, Nikolai Nikolaevich Dobronravov.
Have you ever been to their house?
– I have, and I never cease to admire the openness of these people. I am increasingly convinced that the more a person has achieved, the simpler and more benevolent he behaves. For me, one of the strongest impressions: Alexandra Nikolaevna at the piano, accompanies me and praises my performance of her works - and now they treat me to a pie with tea. It will be remembered forever!
- Do you perform songs by Alexandra Pakhmutova?
- I have the album "The Betrayed Orpheus", released with the permission of Alexandra Nikolaevna and Nikolai Nikolaevich. It includes the famous "Melody" and nine other works. And I have permission to release 2-3 more albums on their compositions. All these are immortal hits, I often perform them at my performances. These are songs that still resonate in our hearts. “Let's bow to those great years”, “Tenderness” sound more modern today than ever. There is such a song "Mother and Son", it was sung by Yulian and Lyudmila Zykina - it is so relevant now that tears well up.
I am proud to be the first performer of the Navy Anthem, the authors of which are Alexandra Pakhmutova and Nikolai Dobronravov. This work was written in 2018. We presented it at the Moscow Conservatory - with Alexandra Nikolaevna at the piano and the Central Military Orchestra of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
- You have a rare beauty baritone. They say you were even invited to sing at the Vienna Opera?
– I was then 16 years old. At one of the music competitions in which I took part, a representative of the Vienna Opera heard Mr. X's aria in my performance and offered to go to Vienna for study and internship. The offer was rejected. I was a minor and my parents made decisions for me. I do not regret that this is how fate turned out. Firstly, it would be a big financial burden, and our family was not rich. And secondly, Slavic culture is much closer to my heart, and I could not imagine life without relatives and friends.
- Is there a difference for you between performances in the capital and in the provinces?
- There is definitely a difference. The arrival of the capital's artist in the outback is not a frequent event, and it is felt. There are many halls in Moscow, and a person has a choice where and whom to go to. As for the hinterland, in every, even the smallest settlement, there are people for whom it is very important to hear their favorite artists live. And when they saw you on TV yesterday, and today they have the opportunity to attend your concert, these are incomparable emotions, great happiness for both the audience and the artist. I remember with pleasure and gratitude how I was received on Sakhalin, Altai or Transbaikalia.
- Were these concerts?
- Differently. In Transbaikalia, for example, there were combined concerts - I performed 8-10 songs, and in Sakhalin - a solo album. Solo and combined performances alternate in Moscow. I sang in different halls, including the State Kremlin Palace, and I am grateful to fate for the opportunity to give my work to people and see their happy eyes.
Do you perform your own songs?
Unfortunately, not as often as we would like. As a rule, viewers want to hear already known works, while new ones are perceived with suspicion. Nevertheless, I try to put one or two songs of my own composition into the concert. Increasingly, listeners are asking to make a whole concert of my author's works. I think about it.
- You write lyrical compositions, probably, the work of Sergei Yesenin is close to you?
- This is a legendary person. So completely unexplored, multifaceted poet that every day you can discover his work from some new side.
- He lived only 30 years, and left so much behind!
- And it happens. Sometimes a young person sees certain events so differently, and so richly, as if he had lived for 90 years.
- What age do you feel like?
- It is hard to say. When I sing "Cranes", other songs of military theme, I feel like the same age as the people who lived at that time. And when I perform “Queen of Beauty”, it seems that I am 20 years old. Artists have the opportunity to live different lives on stage. And that’s why I feel like I’m at a different age at such moments.
Do you care about the opinions of others? Who do you consult (and do you consult) when making important decisions?
“I consult with my family. Close people are the most important part of my life. Creativity is my foundation, and I thank my loved ones for giving me the opportunity to develop in this area. Therefore, I always consult with my wife and daughter.
- Is your wife related to music?
- Already has, because we work together. All my performances, all my creative ideas are supervised and helped by Dasha.
- Have your abilities been passed on to your daughter?
- She is only 6 years old. She, of course, sings, but not yet on the big stage. Let's see, maybe someday we'll sing together with her.
- You are a famous artist, but, oddly enough, there is very little information about you on the Internet. Don't like giving interviews?
- I am always open to communication, I just don’t like to impose my creativity, and I don’t strive to give as many interviews as possible. But in social networks I communicate with my listeners and viewers and I am always open for new acquaintances.
How do you see your further development?
– One of my long-standing desires is to star in a musical or feature film. Performing a song on stage is kind of theatrical, so I kind of prepare myself for the movie.
- What are you dreaming about?
“I have had a dream since childhood. I would like to write and perform a song that will resonate in the hearts of all the inhabitants of our planet.
Photo - Vladimir Sabadash.