His father died when Lemeshev was 10, so supporting his family was paramount. A nearby well-to-do family introduced him to classical music and he was encouraged to have vocal lessons. After some success singing in a social club in Tver, he joined the Tver Cavalry School which had an arts department. From there he gained a scholarship to Stanislavsky’s Opera School and the Moscow Conservatoire, but he became unhappy with performing minor roles and took himself off to various cities throughout USSR and China taking on major roles. 1931 saw him returning to Moscow where the Bolshoi snapped him up – for a time he specialized, very successfully, in French roles. One ‘asset’ that should not be overlooked was his good looks and appeal to women – this elevated his social status to a unique level. Perhaps due to this popularity, there was some suggestion, unproven, that he was homosexual. The 1960s saw him moved towards a teaching role plus some stage production; he also made a couple of films. He died in Moscow, 1977.