Nikolaj Figner was born on February 9th, 1857 in the small
town of Mamadish in the Kazan province. Nikolaj Figner studied in Kazan, and then at
the Petersburg military school (1874–78). Nikolaj Figner served in the navy. During his youth,
he sang in the local church choir, took part in student concerts, where he was
heard by Tsar Aleksandr III. From 1879, Nikolaj Figner studied
singing at the Petersburg conservatory with Prjanishnikov and
However, Nikolaj Figner was deemed to have no voice suited to opera. Figner nonetheless believed in his own capabilities.
He went to Italy, where he further studied with Lamperti and Deroxas.
In 1882, Figner made his successful debut in Italy as Faust.
Until 1887, he sang in Italy (Siena, Ferrara, Turin, Milan, etc). He went on tour in Spain, South America, England, and Romania.
Figner gained notoriety in Europe, singing in 38 operas. In South America, he met
Medea Mei, a fine singer who became his wife.
From 1887, Nikolaj Figner triumphed in Russia, where he became the first tenor at the Mariinskij, where
he made his debut as Radames. He remained at the Mariinskij until 1904.
After that and until 1915, he sang in the province.
Nikolaj Figner was the creator of German in
Pikovaja dama, Vodemon in Iolanta and Vladimir in Dubrovskij.
The voice of the singer was very small, but well projected. His technique allowed him to sing
a variety of roles from Otello and Raoul to Fra Diavolo and Lohengrin.
Figner recorded more than 40 sides (1901 to 1910). They are all very or even extremely rare.
To make ends meet in his last years, Figner gave singing lessons. He died on
December 13th, 1918 in Kiev in poverty.