We talked about the ballet not so long ago (3 posts ago). Now let’s talk about opera. As you have understood from the title, our today’s hero was born in Sukhumi. This event happened in the troubled year of the last century, exactly on the 12th of March in 1937.
Nobody knew how would end the childhood of enthusiastic soccer player, active and restless boy. Nobody could have predicted him the vocal scene, and a huge success in this field. His childhood was proceeding in such way that everyone thought that he would be involved in professional sports, particularly in soccer. The boy was so carried away with it that in the age of 16 he became a defenseman of «Dynamo» of Sukhumi. By the way, at the age of 20 he became the captain of the Georgian team. Such a great jump during only 4 years! However, this jump was in vain. He had to end his career because of sports injuries, which he got 2 or 3 years later at the competitions in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
But if you think that after this Zurab began to sing enthusiastically, you’re wrong. Yes, it turned out that in the end vocalism has become his most successful occupation, but it happened not immediately. The way was thorny and tortuous, so to say, and it went through the Tbilisi Polytechnic Institute.
It also should be noted that Sotkilava kept the love for the sport, despite the retirement from soccer. He often remembered with pleasure how he played against famous players. Once he said in an interview: «I am proud to be on the field with Lev Yashin. I met Lev Ivanovich when I was a singer and a friend of Nikolay Nikolayevich Ozerov. We went together to Yashin when he was in the hospital after surgery … On the example of a great goalkeeper, I convinced once again that the more a person has reached in life, the more this person is modest. That match we lost with a score of 3 goals to one…”
Only after the Polytechnic University, where he studied mining and successfully graduated from it, Zurab thought of studying in the Conservatory. God’s ways are mysterious, as they say, but theoretically Zurab relatives should not have been very surprised: his mother and grandmother were musically gifted, and even he himself in an interview said that they «loved to sit on a bench in the evening and play the guitar «. However, I think you understand the difference between «playing and singing on the bench» and «professional music career.»
Sotkilava’s sport colleagues reacted to his idea with laugh and surprise. But Sotkilava with his purely Georgian sense of humor calmly accepts his defeat in sport, thinking that he became a singer not because he was physically injured, but because Yashin gain a victory over him. I think that each story should be considered very instructive.
Initially he came to the Conservatory as a baritone, but soon the teaching staff saw his beautiful lyrical-dramatic tenor. For a long time the vocalist was taught by the best of his colleagues, perfecting his skill. From 1965 to 1974 in the Georgian State Opera and Ballet Theatre he played the vocal parts. His singing talent was appreciated by the Georgian instructors and the audience so much that Zurab was sent to La Scala (Milan) for in-depth training.
There he mastered the bel canto tirelessly. He was even compared to Caruso and Gigli. However, trying not to get star fever early, Sotkilava practiced in Italy for 2 years, and then he successfully took part in two performances in vocal competitions in Bulgaria and Barcelona … and the Bolshoi Theatre! 🙂
Zurab Sotkilava’s contribution to the art of USSR is considered pure, sincere and disinterested by the Georgians and Russian, Italian, and other recognized «singing» nations. Here I once again should emphasize that human gems of Georgia have a lot of similar with Georgian natural pearls, which certainly applies to Borjomi. Sotkilava singed in the Bolshoi theatre for a long time, performed the leading roles and the central vocal parts, such as Otello, Boris Godunov, Jose Vaudemont.
(With Elena Obraztsova)
In 1987 he went into a teaching career. In 1987 he became professor of solo singing at the Moscow Conservatory.
He has a wife Eliso Bagrationi and two daughters- Katie and Tay Sotkilava. He also has the statuses of Honoured and the People’s Artist of Georgia, State Prize laureate named after Paliashvili, award named after Shota Rustaveli (whose name I often mention in my blog)… I have only mentioned the Georgian awards, in fact, in the list of his achievements there and many Italians and Russian-Soviet awards.
According to recent reports, he is relatively healthy and engaged in creative work. Sometimes he performs of the stage. However, even being the opera star in ’70s-’80s, he was not particularly fond of it.
Now as for the thesis «the talented person is talented in everything.» Do you agree with this thesis? I am not. But gathering the facts about Sotkilava, I decided that the talented person is talented always at least in many respects.
See you soon!