0 Odessa-Russkiy-teatr

By the 70 th years of the XIX century Odessa had made such a great success that on the turnover of maritime trade, crowded wealth of merchant capital, as well as the bright centers of culture, prominent achievements in the field of charity and education acquire yourself confidently, along with the romantic name of South Palmyra, and honorable third place in the hierarchy of cities of the Russian Empire, giving primacy only the capital city of St. Petersburg so throned Moscow.

If the then assess achievement town traditional measure of the “seven wonders” that to them in the “golden age” of prosperity of Odessa, most certainly included:

– The port and its well-known throughout the maritime world Quarantine harbor with bread overpass;

– Tabloid giant staircase leading his ten marches of the 192 stone steps to the harbor of Porto;

– Designed in the spirit of the Renaissance High italianskogo Seaside Boulevard – the solemn facade Southern Palmyra, as the capital city of Novorossiysk grain-producing region, now known as Stepovaya Ukraine;

– Not have known then the comparison of turnover of the Corn-export trade exchange, to the beating heart that listens grain markets across Europe and the Levant, especially in the grave for their lean years;

– The largest in the entire University of New Russia;

– The most modern in the former empire water, were also worthy to discharge the same time of the legitimate pride of our city.

Above all these wonders of the majestic Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral – the main shrine of Odessa, whose gilded spire was recognizable from the sea so far as it contributed to the sailing, as the first omen of the city. This temple has one of its kind remind: Odessa, though a European city, but with a truly Orthodox fate.

Alas! Among the wonders of Odessa, has not listed among her famous in Russia and “Europe” Municipal Theatre, the temple not only Melpomene, and Thalia with Terpsichore. On the night of January 2, 1873 in Odessa the sky lit up with a sinister glow, and the next morning the inhabitants of Odessa was perhaps that grieve for the death of this, according to local traditions zealot Alexander de Ribas, the best monument of old Odessa. Russian theater, since 1846 divided the scene with his Italianskoy opera and ballet company, were forced to settle for farce stage.

But Odessa can not imagine myself without passion captivating pathos theatrical life, so the revival of Russian theater was only a matter of the nearest future.

And he revived Russian theater, in every sense siih words, not from scratch. I’ll tell you more – Odessa area at the intersection of the Greek and Pit Lane has long enjoyed the glory of a familiar than one generation of city merchants bread place.

Let us explain this very thought. In the years before the events described, his place in the above-mentioned hierarchy “seven city of miracles” on the right is famous throughout Europe for grain magazeyny, the language of the modern – warehouses – granaries of Odessa as the breadbasket of the world values, in the best harvest years passes for one navigation harbor port up to 80 percent of the total harvest of cereals Stepovoy Ukraine. Because all of their big names and titles, Caledonia more than a century in international exchange circles wore symbolic meaningful title of “the bread of the city”.


One of these stores settled in the above-mentioned place and belonged to the family of the Odessa merchants VELIKANOVA, bringing annual enviable profits and ensuring a high position in the merchant city of the world. However, in the mid-1850s contraption electromagnetic telegraph linked “with the speed of an electric spark,” Odessa with international markets of Paris and London. Within days of speculation gambling with cereals Stepovoy Ukraine, allowed to make before capitals “Odessa Rothschild” became the property except the endless memories of the exchange of peace in South Palmyra merchant casinos. Even half a century later, the offspring of respectable gentlemen merchants – from resourceful factors to small maklerov- “lapekutnikov” – fathers known to feed Ilf and Petrov “pique vests” More lamented the coffee shop “Fanconi” of gold days “bread boom.” With the arrival in Odessa railways and construction of huge silos Bread on the outskirts of the town, to use the land in the heart of the city under the magazeyn was altogether at a loss.


And then the merchant Alexander Velikanov, grieve together with all the loss of Odessa Municipal Theater, in common deliberation decided, “Odessans has need not only bread but also a spectacle.” And because the new Russian theater and Odessa needs, and he, with the help of God, certain income is able to bring, and then started a newly-born philanthropist “theatrical business.” Why should adjust your bread magazeyn a dramatic performance troupes Russian theater. Moreover, if the draft of the new theater building inscribed architect Felix Gonsiorovskiy, the contractor was made by the son of a merchant – Viktor Velikanov.


And the newspaper “Odessa Herald” on 23 November 1874 finally pleased the audience: “Today is the first presentation of Russian drama troupe in novoustroennom Mr. Velikanova theater.” In the next issue of the newspaper was a review of the event: “As for the theater building, the majority of the audience left them quite pretty; unwittingly surprised that – as can be had in such a short time to organize such a theater. The audience, presumably, will remain grateful A. Velikanova for the construction of the theater in the city center “.



However, the impresario – landlord Russian theater Giants remained practically nothing. It develops if the global economic crisis and not let the world of our merchant, is fairly ruined, forced in 1875 to give up his business teatraplnoe old friend, companion and neighbor for bread magazeynam Greek street Fyodor Rafalovich. This eminent merchant in respect of the merits of its predecessor, rename Velikanova Rafalovich theater in the theater is not attempted. Moreover, being a man of far-sighted and enlightened, he have realized immediately what the name of the theater attract him the greatest number of viewers. And he brought his acquisition of all city registers a Russian theater.


It was a wise move. For the presentation of Russian drama troupe conquered the audience Odessa almost from the day of foundation of the city. Of course, the opera in Italian, in French vaudeville, theater action in other dialects have always found their audience here. But it was the Russian language unifies all multibreeding, multicultural and such raznooyazykuyu Odessa in a single family. And so, after italianskoy classical opera, Russian drama and comedy always harvested the largest audience, and accordingly, provide a profit. Especially if they are played by such artists as Nikolai Karlovich Miloslavskii.

This is an outstanding actor, director and impresario known that he was of noble origin: together with German ancestry and inherited ancestral surname von Friedeburg. Young Nicholas at first tried himself in the military field, in front of him opened up a career officer of the Russian army. But the path of service to the god Mars, he changed the path of worship muse Melpomene, and the generic name of Friedeburg on the resonant stage name Miloslavskii. Acting career he started in St. Petersburg, played in the Alexandrinsky theater in some productions with the legendary Basil Karatygin, but then moved out of St. Petersburg to the South By the time of the events described Miloslavskii was already very well known in Odessa and beloved some local theater-goers for performances, played on different stages of the city. Rafalovich And, without further ado, proposed Miloslavsky and his troupe, and it included a very well-known at the time the actors AN Kireev, AM Glebova, Novikov-Ivanov, P. Nikitin, M. Ivanov-Kozelskiy and not only, decorate the stage play of their new-born Russian theater.

In autumn 1875 the theater has invited viewers for the first premiere. It is becoming a landmark datoyu when the Russian theater in Odessa for the first time once ever gained their own stage and personal address: Street Greek, the angle of the Well Lane.

Troupe Miloslavsky served for more than one season in the Russian theater. From the performances of that time in urban chronicles and grateful memory of the Odessa theater were such titles as “King Lear” by Shakespeare, “The Wedding Krechinsky” Sukhovo-Kobylin, “The Death of Ivan the Terrible” Tolstoy, already forgotten nowadays “Richelieu” Bulwer-Lytton “The death of the offender,” Giacometti.

In 1877 in the Russian theater is widely celebrated thirty years of stage work Miloslavsky Nicholas. Odessa authorities paid tribute to the master of the city, expressing gratitude for what he has managed to unite talented troupe.

In 1882 Miloslavskii passed away. Unfortunately, he did not leave a decent receiver to post the creative head of the theater, and a regular troupe dispersed to entreprise.

The next segment of the history of the theater can be called “the era of great guest artists.” It gave many performances and concerts of the stars of the first magnitude. And opened the era of the legendary French Sarah Bernhardt. Her tour, includes a variety of performances, triumphantly held at the theater in November 1881. In 1885, in the theater applauded legend Ernst Possartu German theater, in 1891 – the brilliant Italian Eleonora Duse. And that’s just a few examples: In addition to them the stage of the theater recall tread Ludwig Bar, Jean Mun-Sully, Benoit Coquelin senior, Maria Savina, Mark Kropivnitskogo, Mary Zankovetska, Panas Saksaganskogo and Vladimir Davydov … At this stage there is a world-renowned comedian silent film Max Linder. But the number of guest artists, actors, whose names Madame Historical deigned to leave descendants, simply incalculable.

The performances of various artists have traditionally played in the theater in the evening. But one of the most spectacular dramas, Odessa remembered for a long time, was held in the Russian theater is not in the evening and late at night September 19, 1906. In the theater, a fire broke out. The author and director of this drama was fate itself, or rather bad luck, the scenery – the walls of the theater, and actors – the night watchman and the fighters of the Odessa Volunteer Fire Society. For three of the brave firefighters – Kalishevskogo M., A. Voronin and David Rappaport she ended tragic finale – a fire in the Russian theater took away their lives.

But the fire was defeated, theater rebuilt. His fate is determined the appearance of the street theater Sibiryakova Kherson, where he remained for a good ten years of Russian dramatic troupe. The development of the technological progress and the fashionable trends of the young twentieth century was transferred to the Greek temple of Melpomene in the arena of trade and commercial activities and polusportivny secular amusements, such as skating-ring. Thus, it held a grand Art and Industrial Exhibition in 1910 in Odessa. Theater owners have responded to this event: on the basis of the theater in 1912, a grand Car Salon has been held – one of the first in the Russian Empire.


In the same 1912, the theater building was finally transformed into a skating ring: now the audience came here not to watch performances, but to roller-skating and find love.

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However, the walls that were remembered the voices of great actors withstood this test. The theater was still alive. The theater only waited for the return of his muse, the beautiful Melpomene, but his waiting lasted for many years. The theater lurked for a while so that it could loudly declare itself in a new period.

However, this is a different story. And its name is the period of the massive upheavals that the 1917 revolution has brought with it.

Text: Alexander Surilov


In the first years of the Soviet Union, several new theaters were opened in Odesa: “The Red Torch” theater, the First Workers ‘and Peasants’ Theater, the Youth Theater, the Futuristic Theater, and many others.The Massodrama Theater  (Workshop of Socialist Drama) is the most successful and viable among them, was created in 1920. A lot of great artists were grown here. Here the prima of Moscow Maly Theatre in the future Daria Zerkalova played her first role. Besides working in Massodrama theater, Daria Zerkalova participated in repertory plays.The most bright roles of the Odesa period of  Zerkalova’s life were Anyutka (“Power of Darkness” by Lev Tolstoy), Maryushka (Tale of Woe and Misfortune by Krylov), Kollet (“The Dead Girl” by L. Lamyur), Julia Tugina (“The Last Victim” by Alexander Ostrovsky).

The Massodram theater changed its address several times: for some time this theater was located in a small space in Krasniy Pereulok, then on Khersonskaya Street 17 (in the building where the Ukrainian Theater is now located). In August 1926, by the decision of the City Executive Committee, the Massodrama Theater was merged with the Region Drama Theater of Taras Shevchenko, which occupied a room on the corner of Greek Street and Kolodezny Lane. The alliance received a new name – The Odessa Russian Dramatic Theatre.

On October 1, 1926, the premiere of “The Hinkemann” based on the play by Ernst Toller and directed by A. Kharlamov took place at this theater. This play was the starting point in the new period of Russian Theater history in Odesa. In 1927, the theater became a state enterprise and received the name of Andriy Ivanov, who passed away in the same year. He was directly related to revolutionary actions but was distant from theatrical art. Anyway, the theater carried the name Andriy Ivanov for eight decades.

The new theater was headed by a man from Moscow Alexey Gripich. Alexey Gripich was the director of the Moscow Revolution Theater and a student of the legendary Vsevolod Meyerhold. Gripich arrived in Odessa with his prepared repertory and creative program. He invited a group of new actors to the theatrical troupe, including actors from the theaters of Moscow and Petrograd. Among them was 27-year-old Mikhail Astangov, who afterward has received all-union recognition. Mikhail Astangov performed on the stages of The Vakhtangov Theatre and Mossovet Theatre in Moscow. He played more than 30 roles in films, the most famous roles are Aleksandr Arakcheyev in Suvorov (1940), Negoro in Fifteen-Year-Old Captain (1945), Verner in Princess Mary (1955).In Odessa, Astangov strongly presented himself by his first performance Juma Mashid based on the play by Venetsianov and directed by Gripich. The next role of Astangov – Beethoven in the play by Max Zhizhmor (director – Y. Warski) provided a huge success for the actor and the theater. The actor was working in the theater for around two years, but it was a time of great creative achievements.

Alexey Gripich created five plays in Odessa, the most legendary of which was the first version of the play Sunset by Isaac Babel. The director personally met and corresponded with Isaac Babel, improving and clarifying some scenes. The play was made strictly with a minimum of the so-called “Odessa color” and went from the private story of one Jewish family to the main issues of modern life. Unfortunately, due to criticism from the top, Sunset was performing for less than a season. Only 60 years later, in 1987, Babel`s banned play received its second  birth on the stage of the theater.
One of the most important plays of the late 1920s and early 1930s was the performance of The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, which was created by the head of the literary part of the theater, A. Grin, and directed by Y. Warski, deigned by R. Raspopov. The play remained for many years in the repertory. The role of Švejk was performed by the lead actor of the troupe Sergey Petrov.
The prominent Soviet director Avraam Treplev was the art director of the theater from 1933 until the outbreak of the war. His first play in Odesa – The Intervention by Lev Slavin, according to the director himself, was the best of more than two dozen various versions of the play, which were performed in many cities of the Soviet Union. Such theater plays as Enemies by Maxim Gorky, Love of Yarovaya by Konstantin Trenyov, Optimistic Tragedy by Vsevolod Vishnevsky also remained in the memory of Odessa theatergoers.
Popular actors of Odessa inhabitants from this historical period of the theater were also Matvey Lyarov, Naum Sokolov, Lyubov Mayfus, Nikolay Komissarov, Nikolai Volkov, Pavel Mikhailov, which later received various awards and titles. Besides Treplev, the plays were staged by directors Vladimir Vilner, Igor Krol, Sergey Timokhin.
In 1939, Treplev invited the actress Lia Bugova, the star of the Odessa Jewish Theater, to play the main role in the Mother by Karel Chapek. For almost forty years, she represented for many spectators the glory and the mastery of Odessa Russian Theater and played on that stage a numerous of brilliant roles.


In the summer of 1941, after the outbreak of the Second World War, the theater troupe was disbanded. However, the theater was not empty even during the years of occupation. On its stage, the famous Russian singer Pyotr Leshchenko gave his concerts and Russian drama troupe of famous actor Vasily Vronsky performed here.
Shortly after the liberation of the city in 1944, the theater resumed its work and presented to Odesa new performances on the relevant military theme – Russian People by Simonov, Invasion by L. Leonov, Song of the Black Sea by B. Lavrenov.

In 1945, Alexander Solomarsky became the art director of the theater. Among the numerous plays made by him, Odessa inhabitants most of all remembered the plays Once Upon a Time by A. Gladkov, Russian Question by K. Simonov, Anna Karenina by L. Tolstoy, Wedding with a Dowry by N. Dyakonov, and The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol.

In the period of the 40s and 60s, there were numerous successful among the audience works: plays of Abram Rubin (The Last Victim by A. Ostrovsky, The Taming of the Shrew by V. Shakespeare, Sunday by L. Tolstoy and others), plays of Sergei Timokhin (The Precipice by I. Goncharov, The Lady-Fool and Wise lover by Lope de Vega and others) plays of Victor Lebedev (Tanya by A. Arbuzov, Los Arboles Mueren de Pie by Alejandro Casona, King Lear by William Shakespeare and others).  After the war, the masters of the old generation Nikolai Komissarov, Nikolai Volkov, Matvey Lyarov, Leonid Zamberg, Pavel Mikhailov, Liya Bugova, Zinaida Hasanenko, Natalya Mertsalova, Zinaida Dyakonova returned to the troupe. Besides the leading actors of the pre-war troupe in the late 40s and early 50s, Yakov Zaslavsky, Leonid Marennikov, Leonid Chinidzhants, Leonid Zamberg and a little later Sergey Prostyakov also joined the troupe.

The famous Soviet actor Vladimir Samoilov began his career here.

In the 50s and 60s, numerous great actors began their careers here next to the experienced actors: Roza Balashova, Igor Shelyugin, Irina Raeva, Valentina Kulakova, Galina Nozhenko, Ivan Kolesnichenko, Ninel Korf, Sergey Yarmolinets, Alexander Filatov, Tamara Dmitrenko, Yuri Gorobets, Valentina Prokofieva, Alexander Roslavtsev, Svetlana Klimova, Victor Bialetsky, Andrey Gonchar, Vladimir Naumtsev.
In 1956, an actor family Evgeny Kotov and Lidia Polyakova joined the troupe of the theater. They performed on the stage of theater for nearly 40 years, playing an entire gallery of unforgettable characters.

Boris Zaydenberg – honored artist of Soviet Union. In 1964, he moved from Bryansk to Odesa. On the Odesa stage, he played numerous brilliant roles. His most famous theatrical works are 104 pages about love by E. Radzinsky, Only 13 months by N. Raevsky, Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich by Godunov, Forget Herostratus by Herostratus. The actor not only played on stage but also staged performances. His works are A Man from a Star by K. Wittlinger, Warsaw Melody by L. Zorin, Give Way to Tomorrow by V. Delmar, Stars in the Morning Sky by A. Galin, Cat on a Red-Hot Roof by T. Williams and others. All of them were examples of wise delicate modern directing.

In the 50s and 60s, the theater became famous not only for its exceptional actors and directors but also for the spectacular decoration of plays: outstanding stage artists Georgiy Orlov, Leon Alshits and Mikhail Ivnitsky worked here.
In 1964, the theater was headed by director Vladimir Bortko. Due to the emotional richness of the troupe`s internal life and the extension of events, “The Bortko era” left the deepest mark in the history of theatrical Odessa. Civic pathos and emotional romanticism of Bortko’s performances coincided with the works of Sixtiers, with a spirit of times, and the audience has especially loved those performances. His works had a big success: “104 Pages About Love” by E. Radzinsky, “Christmas at the Home of Senor Kupiello” by E. de Filippo, “Running” by M. Bulgakov, “Only Thirteen Months” by Y. Dynov and others.


In 1969, Viktor Strizhov became the main director of the theater. His performances (The Case by A. Sukhovo-Kobylin (1971), Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich by A. Tolstoy (1972), Forget Herostratus by G. Gorin (1973)) became for the city both aesthetic and also social events.

In 1974, the theater was headed by Konstantin Chernyadev. This director used in his work mainly modern Russian and foreign dramaturgy.

He staged detailed psychological, analytical performances devoted to the problems of individual, love and family relationships. Among the best works of Konstantin Chernyadev were Our Debts by E. Volodarsky, Old-Fashioned Comedy by A. Arbuzov.
Victor Terentyev headed the theater in 1978. He was a master of extensive epic performances. Together with the new chief stage artist, Alexander Krivoshein, they created several grand plays. Among them, the most successful were And Quiet Flows the Don by M.Sholokhov, The Mill of Happiness by V. Merezhko, Three Sisters by A. Chekhov. The audience was thrilled by an unexpected and modern interpretation of classic plays, which was directed by Matvey Osherovsky (Without a Dowry by Alexander Ostrovsky) and Eduard Mitnitsky (The Zykovs by Maxim Gorky). Play The Impostor by L. Korsunsky, directed by Roman Viktyuk, became a bright example of the original artistic language.
The leading actors of the troupe during this period were Andrey Gonchar, Igor Shelyugin, Elena Aminova, George Drozd, Natalya Dubrovskaya, Tamara Moroz, Valery Apraksin, Valery Bassel, Viktor Pimenov, Larisa Korshunova, Tatyana Oparina, Yuri Votyakov. All of them afterward received the titles of Honored Artists of Ukraine.

Since 1980, a married couple of actors Valery Zhukov and Lyudmila Agafonova have been working in the theater. Among their works a lot of skillfully played roles, that was remembered by Odessa theatergoers.
In 1987, the theater was headed by Viktor Strizhov, who returned from Moscow. The most significant plays of that period were The Sunset by I. Babel, Children of the Arbat by A. Rybakov, The Seventh Feat of Hercules by M. Roshchin. His works met the aesthetic and social expectations of the “perestroika ” years. At that time, Oleg Shkolnik clearly represented himself on the stage of the theater. Viktor Strizhov specially invited him to play the role of Mendel Crick in the play Sunset. In the late 80s and early 90s, Gennady Skarga, Julia Skarga, Mikhail Drobotov, Irina Nadezhdina (Kurochka), Alexander Suvorov, and a little later Svetlana Gorchinskaya joined the troupe of the theater. Today they are the leading actors of the theater.

Among the most successful plays of the last decade of the twentieth century, the following performances should first be mentioned: Wiseman by A. Ostrovsky (director – Arkady Katz), Pat, or the game of kings by P. Kohout (director – Victor Strizhov), Kin IV by G. Gorin (director – Yuri Kochenko), Murder is a family matter and Trees die standing up by A. Casona (director – Gennady Skarga) as well as four performances directed by the famous master from Lviv Alla Babenko: Little Girl by N. Berberova, The Man by G. Zapolskaya, The Stepmother by Balzac and Before the passing of the sun by Hauptmann.
In 1996, the stars of the Odessa operetta, actors Lyudmila Satosova and Semyon Krupnik joined the troupe of the theater and immediately found their proper place. Their debut was the musical “Stagecoach from Rouen” based on the novel Boule de Suif by G. de Maupassant, which was directed by Honored Artist of Ukraine Viktor Strizhov. In this performance, they played a married couple – Count and Countess de Breville. Krupnik and Satosova gave to the theater the last 12 years of their artistic biography (both passed away in 2008), playing vivid roles in many plays.

The performances created by the theater in 1999-2000 had a great success: Richard III by W. Shakespeare which was directed by Alexander Dzekun, Competition and Accompanist based on plays by Alexander Galin in his production (these two plays was designed by the world-famous scenographer David Borovsky), Anna Karenina by L. Tolstoy directed by Eduard Mitnitsky.

Text: Yuri Volchanskiy.


In 2002, the theater opened after two years of reconstruction. Not only the building was renewed – the troupe was refreshed. Young people joined the “old guards”: during this period 24 new actors joined the troupe of the theater. However, not only young talents but also experienced masters joined the troupe: Honored Artists of Ukraine Anatoly Antonyuk, Yuri Nevgamonny, Boris Smirnov, Honored Artist of Ukraine Orysya Burda, actor Sergey Yurkov joined the troupe.

The Honored Artist of Ukraine Gregory Fayer become the main artist of the theater. From 2004 to 2014, the directing collegium was doing art management of the theater – Alexey Girba, Sergey Golomazov, Alexey Litvin. In 2010, Mikhail Chumachenko became a member of the directing collegium. In 2014, Elena Pushkina joined the directing collegium. In 2015, the members of the directing collegium were changed.

Among the directors who are actively collaborating with the theater are Honored Artist of Russia Leonid Kheifets, Georgy Kovtun, Honored Artist of Ukraine, Anatoly Antonyuk, and representatives of youth russian directors Evgeny Lavrenchuk and Artyom Baskakov.

The theater has earned recognition not only in Odesa but also far beyond its borders: more than 15 awards at international theater festivals in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Poland indicate this.

In 2008, the theater was awarded a Scroll of Honor Diploma of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

In December 2009, the theater received the status “ACADEMIC”.