Shtokolov was trained as a pilot, but according to an oft-told story, Soviet Field Marshall Georgy Zhukov arranged for him to leave the military and study at a conservatory after hearing him sing. His roles at the Mariinsky included Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust
, the title role of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov
, and Gremin in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin
According to the Times, Shtokolov was nicknamed "the Soviet Shaliapin," in a nod to Feodor Shaliapin, the great pre-revolutionary Russian bass.
Shtokolov died of complications from peritonitis. He was buried at St. Petersburg's Volkovskoye on January 11 after a memorial at the Mariinsky.