Russian Dies Because He Is Flouted by Tina de Spada.


Her Departure So Affects Him That Heart Stops Its Beating.


When Tina de Spada, the oriole-throated soprano who for the last our months has delighted the audiences at the Tivoli with her singing, turned her face toward the rising sun yesterday morning and waved a farewell to the hills an spires of San Francisco she probably did not know that a man whose heart had broken for love of her lay dead in his sleeping apartment with his sightless eyes still holding in them the image of herself, nor is it certain that even if she did know she would have cared much. Lovelorn worshipers and broken hearts are blase matter to the diva, who has been courted through varying climes and places from St. Petersburg to California. One woman’s heart is entirely insufficient for the demands upon it under such circumstances.

The young man whose love for the singer proved a fatal would was Michael Bellavin, a Russian, aged 31 years, and brother to the Right Rev. Tikhon, Bishop of the Greek-Russian Cathedral at 1715 Powell street. For more than two years past he has been acting as secretary to the Bishop.


When Tina de Spada appeared at the Tivoli Bellavin became a nightly frequenter of the place and his devotion to the young woman was a matter of remark to her friends. He constantly sought an introduction from mutual acquaintances, and at the request of the soprano, who was annoyed by his attentions, this was denied him. He wrote her notes declaring his love for her, praising her beauty and her voice and declaring his own unworthiness. One night, as De Spada was seated in a box watching a performance given by other members of the company, Bellavin forced his way in and introduced himself. He met with a chilling reception and thereafter he seemed to realize that his love was hopeless.

Up to this time, according to his friends, he had been a man of correct habits, but despair drove him to excesses and he sought relief from his sorrow in drink. For three months past he has indulged heavily in stimulants and the protestations of his friends and relatives availed nothing to change his course. He still maintained an adoring attitude toward the charming soprano and each night found him at the Tivoli, waiting for a glance at the woman who had snared his heart.


Wednesday night he retired early to his apartment at 1715 Powell street, where the cathedral is located. He was in such a condition of nervous prostration that Dr. Victor G. Vecki was summoned to attend him. He administered sedatives and left his patient apparently resting easily. But the knowledge that Tina de Spada would depart in the morning and that probably he would never see her again gripped his heart until it ceased its beating. When the family went to awake him in the morning he was dead. Bishop Tikhon has been absent in the East for a few weeks and does not know of the tragedy. He is expected to return to-day or to-morrow, and the funeral will not take place until then.

Bellavin came from a prominent Russian family and was educated at St. Petersburg. He had traveled widely before coming to San Francisco, where he had resided for the last two years. Tina de Spada is on her way to Austria to take possession of the title and estates of her father, by whose recent death she became a Duchess. So the width of two continents and an ocean will separate the dead and the loved.

The San Francisco Call, Friday, December 5, 1902

Reprinted in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol. 2, No. 4, December 1994.