Musical Geography. Anton Bonachich

In May 1933, a grand cultural event took place in Minsk: the first national opera and ballet theater in Belarus opened. To make this project possible, top level professionals had been working in Minsk with Anton Bonachich being one of them.

Anton Bonachich was born in 1878 in Mariupol. His mother was Greek, and his father was Montenegrin. From early childhood, Anton grew up in an atmosphere of love for art. At the age of four, he demonstrated outstanding results of piano playing.

His story, rich in events, cities, countries and theaters, began at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. Bonachich made his debut on the stage of the Kharkov Theater, worked in a private enterprise and performed in Tiflis, Kiev, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. In 1905, the young singer was invited to work at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater. In those years, the main conductor was the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Bonachich was the youngest tenor, nevertheless he performed the title parts in the operas of Tchaikovsky and Wagner, Leoncavallo and Rimsky-Korsakov, Maassen and Mussorgsky, Dargomyzhsky and Gounod.

At the beginning of the XX century, the “Artistic Opera” enterprise was created with the best performers of the time invited to participate in it, including Bonachich. His unique tenor could be admired by the public of London, Monte Carlo, Paris, New York, Chicago, Brussels, and Berlin.

In 1920, the Belarusian State Theater opened in Minsk bringing together drama, ballet, choral and orchestra troupes. To create a professional opera and ballet theater, it was necessary to find talents and establish educational institutions. Therefore, in 1924, the Belarusian State Musical College was opened, where the Moscow Bolshoi Theater former soloists were teaching. The “highest opera class” was managed by Anton Bonachich who arrived in Minsk in 1928. The class was training staff for the national opera house, which was planned to be started a few years later.

The successes of the class were undeniable, and in 1930 it was reorganized into the State Opera and Ballet Studio. Anton Bonachich became its vocal leader, in that period he also headed the vocal department of the Minsk Conservatory. Future stars of the Belarusian opera were studying at the studio, and the production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “The Golden Cockerel” was its premiere – the performance is still considered to be a bright page in the history of Belarusian art. After the success of the studio, the establishment of the opera and ballet theater became a matter of time. Its grand opening took place on May 23, 1933. Unfortunately, Anton Bonachich could not attend the event himself – he had passed away two months before, but he is rightly considered one of the founders of the Bolshoi Theater of Belarus.

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