21 March 1920
Sankt-Peterburg, Russian Federation
5 September 1975 (aged 55)
Georg Ots (21 March 1920, St. Petersburg, Russia – 5 September 1975, Tallinn, Estonia) was a distinguished Estonian opera singer. His father was the renowned tenor Karl Ots.
Before studying singing with the Estonian baritone Aleksander Arder in Yaroslavl, where an Estonian cultural centre had been established, Ots was a young Navy Officer who had escaped a sinking ship and taken prisoner in Russia. He was released a year later, and on his return home he auditioned for the conservatory in Tallinn. At the same time, he became a member of the chorus at the Estonian National Theatre in Tallinn. His solo opera debut was a tiny part in Eugene Onegin (1944). He soon became one of the most revered singers with this opera company, with whom he sang with from 1951 until his untimely death in 1975.
Ots was also a welcomed performer in all the major opera houses of the former Soviet Union, being especially popular at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. His repertoire included the roles of: Eugene Onegin, Yeletzky, Escamillo, Renato, Don Giovanni, Papageno, Rigoletto, Iago, Porgy, Figaro, and the title role in Kabalevsky's [. Ots sang in Estonian, Russian, Finnish, German, Italian and French, and was fluent in all six languages. Ots's most famous role, with which he is often identified with, was the leading character in Anton Rubinstein's opera The Demon. The libretto of The Demon is based on Mikhail Lermontov's famous epic poem, once banned because of its plot line which involves a misalliance between a dark angel and a Georgian princess. Georg Ots's interpretation of the Demon was admired and loved all over Russia, and made Lermontov's controversial poem even more famous.
The popularity of Ots culminated in 1958 with the release of the Lenfilm Studio musical Mister X, based on Imre Kalman's operetta Die Zirkusprinzessin. Ots also played a leading role in Between Three Plagues, a film based on a historical novel by Jaan Kross which illuminates the life of Balthasar Russow (played by Ots), a distinguished Estonian writer and chronicler. Russow (1536-1600) was the author of Chronicle of Livonia, a masterpiece which describes the life `of` and `in` Estonia between the 12-th and 16-th century and is one of the most important literary works on Estonian culture and history of that period.
Ots loved to perform songs by Schubert, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and several other Russian composers, and was also a devoted interpreter of Estonian folk songs. His voice could be heard on radio and TV all over the Soviet Union, and all his records sold out almost immediately.
He also performed successfully in various European countries and in the United States. After his death in 1975, the Estonian Music High School was named after him. A plant, a ferry and a street also bear his name. In 1997, Russian scientists gave his name to a newly discovered minor planet. He was married three times (to Margot, Asta and Ilona Ots respectively) and had two daughters, a son (daughter Ülle and son Ülo with Asta, and daughter Mariann with Ilona) and two adopted sons (Hendrik and Jüri).
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