Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Winagradoff


Born in 1868 in Vilna, Polish Lithuania. Father -- a poor furrier/hatter, a musician, in a cheder and "helped" his father at home. At the age of eight he came to Cantor Feinzilber, a year later in a choral school with Cantor Michaleski. Learned piano with a shkhte, a piano teacher. He was taken in into the Vilna musical school through his singing teacher from the teacher's institute, Eban, and as a child performed as a soloist with local concerts.

Completed the Vilna musical school and some preparatory classes in the teacher's institute. In the summer of 1884 he went away "seeking happiness" in Odessa. Here he was an attendant for an old, paralyzed man and further practiced his musical education. During the mutation of his voice, he was conductor in a chorus of Cantor Pitsye Avram, and from then, on the initiative of Cantors Eydes, the singer of the Russian opera in Moscow, Barisov, wet away to Msocow, where he arrived in Golvan's conservatory and also studied with the musician Dora Leonova. Although already known as a concert singer within the Russian aristocracy, V. had to, due to living rights (voyn-rekht), arumvalgern in the nights, through the streets of Moscow. At first in the winter of 1887 V. had the opportunity, due to the illness of a singer in the local opera, to debut as "Fernando" in the opera "Troubador (Il trovatore)", and due to this, received a license to remain a half year in Moscow.


In the summer of 1887 V. sang at small parties and the Kazan opera of Medvedyev-Kazansky, and then returned to Moscow to settle into his studies. Here he was engaged as s a second baritone for Lyubimov's "Russian Imperial Opera Society", which then made tours across Berlin, Copenhagen and Manchester. In London the first baritone Tartakov, left the troupe, and V. took over the singing of his part. Here he then became engaged by Sir Augustus Harris for the English opera theatre in Covent Garden, where he sang for three months and also performed later in various large cities of England.

Returning to Vilna, V. sang for a short time in the local opera, guest-starring then in Kharkov and went to Milan, Italy, from where he, after a half-year, studied, invited to Odessa and there performed in Rubinstein's "Demon", and "Die makabeer", under the leadership of the composer. Later V. for eight years sang in Kharkov for Kartavov, guest-starring in the summer season across Russia, or further studied in Italy.

Arriving back in London, V. there was put at the head of the opera department in the Yiddish "Art Temple", which had opened in the Pavilion Theatre. Here on 16 March 1912 he staged, with V. in the title role, the first original Yiddish opera in the Yiddish tongue -- "Meylekh Akhaz (King Akhaz)" by Shmuel Alman, Libretto taken from Abraham Mapu's novel "Ahavas Zion (Love of Zion)". Later V. there sang the main part in: "Rigoletto" by Verdi, "Cavalleria Rusticana" (role of "Alfio'), in the first act of Rubinstein's "Die makabeer", "Faust" by Gounod, 'The Masked Ball" by Verdi, "The Barber of Seville" by Rossini, "Mazeppa" by Tchaikovsky et al.

After the troupe disbanded, V. dedicated himself to concerts. In wartime he guest-starred across Poland and later traveled to America, where he became a cantor and also several times performed in Yiddish theatre in New York and Philadelphia in the title role of Goldfaden's "Bar Kochba".

In 1924 and 1928 V. again was in Poland on a grand tour.

M. E. from Avraham Eisenberg.

  • Lead Pencil -- Der idish-rusisher opera zinger vinogradov, "Forward", 24 September 1920.

  • Joseph Winagradoff -- [Zayn lebns-geshikhte unter farshaydene keplekh], "Forward", 14, 21, 22 November, 5, 12, 19, 26 December 1920; 2, 16 January, 4 February 1921.

  • A. L--n -- Yosef vinogradov, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 28, 1924.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 721.

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