Sonya Timofeeva (Russian: Соня Тимофеева, София Тимофеева) (September 10, 1944 -) is a gypsy singer, actress, and dancer. She became popular after the premiere of the film “Gypsy” (Цыган).
She performed at Moscow’s Romen Theater. She was a soloist of the Moskontsert, a performer of Russian romances and gypsy songs.
In the 1990s, she left the theater, and nothing was known about her fate. There were rumors that the singer left the country and was living abroad, or even that she had died.
In 2014, she appeared on Andrei Malakhov’s program “Let Them Talk” (Пусть говорят), “The Return of the Gypsy Sonya”, at the age of 69, and with a young husband, a quarter of a century younger than her, for a retrospective of her career, and talked about the secrets of gypsy magic, and how to determine by the cards whether a husband cheats.
Her mother was Evgenia Baurova, a singer and dancer. The Baurov dynasty hailed from Leningrad gypsies. At an early age, Sonya liked to imitate her mother dancing.
Nikita Khrushchev issued a decree that all gypsies should become settled life. Military men in trucks arrived at the camp, and fifty gypsy families were taken to the city of Sovetsk in the Tula region. Sonya’s older brother, Anatoly Alekseevich, who was later was killed by unknown people, at that time worked in the Sevastopol Red Banner Ensemble. When Sonya was fourteen, her uncles wanted her to get married and some guests came to visit. The next day she was kidnapped from her school by matchmakers, but she put up a fight, that left scars on her body. She was brought to a strange house, and locked in a room, but there were no bars on the windows and she got free and ran twenty kilometers back home. At home, she told her family, and her brother Anatoly went to deal with the failed groom. The men had a fight, and Anatoly slightly hurt his sister’s would-be kidnapper. And investigation was started, but Sonya demanded the “groom” retract his statement to the police, and it was said they parted amicably.
Sonya was discovered by one of the artists of the Romen theater singing with the gypsy ensemble in Tula. She became a star at the Romen Theater with the song “Not Evening”.
The actress went on tour, singing in France, America, and Italy. At one of the concerts, Luciano Pavarotti met her and invited the singer to sing with him in Milan. She appeared with him at La Scala, and they sang “Black eyes” (Очи чёрные).
She was married to Alexei Khmelev (1943-2002), son of the legendary gypsy Lyalya Chernoy and Nikolai Khmelev, Stalin’s cultural adviser and one of the most sought-after suitors of the Soviet USSR. They lived in a mansion in Tverskaya, with antique furniture and a servant.
She was a hereditary fortune-teller, and according to rumor, Galina Brezhneva, daughter of Soviet politician and longtime General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Viktoria Brezhneva, and Raisa Gorbacheva, wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev came for Timofeeva’s predictions.
In 2000, her husband died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-nine. Sonya was out of work, and sold all the antiques and moved into a two-room apartment. She met her next husband, Vyacheslav Bobrik, a seller in a newsstand, returning home from visiting the grave of her husband, and asked him for a hundred rubles for cigarettes. He recognized her from the film “Gypsy”, and gave her the money. After a year of getting to know each other, they decided to get together.
Sonya has a son Evgraf Timofeev, named for his father Eugraf Jankowski, a Polish gypsy descended from a Count’s family. Sonya fell in love with him at the Romen theater, but he disappeared the day after the child was born.
Sonya played in seven films, “The Living Corpse” 1968 ‘Живой труп’ directed by Vladimir Vengerov,”Privalov’s Millions” (1972) for the small role of Stesha, a few years later starred in the films: “Black Birch“, “Balamut“, “New Adventures of Captain Wrongel.”
- 1968 Живой труп, цыганка в хоре (The Living Corpse, gypsy in the choir) She sang her trademark “not evening” (Невечерняя), clip of the film here.
- 1972 Приваловские миллионы, Стеша, вторая жена Александра Привалова Privalov’s millions, Stesha – second wife of Alexander Privalov)
- 1977 Чёрная берёза | Чорная бяроза, цыганка (Black Birch | Black Bjarosa, Gypsy)
- 1978 Баламут, цыганка в такси (Balamut, gypsy woman in a taxi)
- 1978 Новые приключения капитана Врунгеля, цыганка
(нет в титрах) (New adventures of captain Vrungel – Gypsy (not in the credits)
- 1979 Цыган – Шелоро (Roma, Sheloro) (where she is a red link, in Russian)
- 1985 Возвращение Будулая, Шелоро (The return of Budulaya, Sheloro) (also a red link here)
- Gypsy Folk Songs 1970
Track listing 1 Кай ёне 2 Настенька 3 Нанэ мандэ родо 4 Гэя куля 5 Машенька 6 Мэ дарава 7 Драго 8 Сосница 9 Заборо 10 Ручеек 11 Дживен, дживен 12 Кумушка 13 Нанэ бахт 14 Хабарка 15 Прогэя
- Старинные романсы (Old romance) 1976
1 The Look of Your Black Eyes 2 Back Off 3 Don’t Tell Me About Him (His Fault) 4 He Told Me 5 Don’t Harp On 6 Piteous Groan 7 Feast Your Eyes on Me 8 Look Back 9 Oh, Forget Your Old Passions 10 Soon the Happy Day 11 In Parting She Said
- Nikolai Mitrokhin and Sonia Timofeeva, Episkopy i eparkii Russko, Pravolslavnoi Tserkvi po sostoianiiu na 1 oktiabria 1997, (Moscow:Panorama, 1997), database on Russian Orthodox Church leaders
List of theater roles
- Moscow Music and Drama Theater “Romen”: Veruts “Rum Baro” I. Shvedov (production by S. A. Barkan, director and assistant S. I. Andreev)
- Zarga “Hot Blood” I. Khrustalyov (production by S. A. Barkan, director E. L. Ludwigova)
- Nastya “Gypsy” I. Rom-Lebedev, N. Narozhniy, Y. Kozibeyev based on the novel by A. Kalinin (staged by S. A. Barkan and I. A. Soboleva)
- Stesha “Gypsy Aza” M. Staritsky (production by A.V. Biryukov)
- The participant “What the violin sang” (Gypsy tunes) V. Lyubinsky, I. Rom-Lebedev (staged by S. A. Barkan)
- String “For a friendly conversation” I.P. Stock (production by S.A. Barkan, director V.F. Bisev)
- Nastya “Children of the birds” N. Cherkashin (director O.T. Khabalov)
- Gundya “I was born in the camp” Yu. Nagibin, I. Rom-Lebedev (production by S. A. Barkan, director N. A. Slichenko)
- Shaloro’s “Future Bonfires” based on the novel by A. Kalinin (production by S. A. Barkan, director E.; O. Egadze)
- Sonia “Gypsy Love” I.V. Khrustalyov (director E.O. Egadze)
- Fesha “Gypsy Aza” M. Staritsky (production by S. A. Barkan)
- Tanya “Hello, Pushkin!” A. Hessen, I. Rom-Lebedev (production by S. A. Barkan, director B. R. Tashkent)
- Grushenka “Grushenka” I.P. Stock on the story of N.S. Leskova (Stage Director N. A. Slichenko)
- The line “The Gypsies Went …” I. Rom-Lebedev (Stage Director N. A. Slichenko)
- Manuilikh “Enchantment” based on the story of A.I. Kuprina “Olesya” (staged by OT Khabalov)
- Carmen “We Are Gypsies” I. Rom-Lebedev, N. Slichenko (Stage Director N. A. Slichenko)
- Soloist “We Are Gypsies” I. Rom-Lebedev, N. Slichenko (Stage Director N. A. Slichenko)
Here she is dancing gypsy-style: