"In May, Shaliapin had sung in Paris "

The bass Fyodor Chaliapin (1873-1938) was arguably the most famous Russian opera singer of the 20th century.

Born into a peasant family in Kazan, he sang at New York's Met and debuted in London and Paris in 1921, thanks to an introduction from Sergei Diaghilev in 1921. Although Chaliapin sang most major opera roles, it was the folkloric Song of the Volga Boatmen that earned him worldwide fame.

He knew the Nabokovs and is said to have sung at their house on 47 Bolshaya Morskaya Street.