“Anna Karenina”. How the famous performance of Nemirovich-Danchenko has appeared

March 9

In the spring of 1937, all of Moscow read “Anna Karenina”. Taking up Leo Tolstoy, People of Moscow were inspired by Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, or rather the news that a famous director and teacher, co-founder of the Moscow Art Theater was preparing a play based on this novel. Theater employees - from leading actors to cashiers - also went everywhere with a volume of the classic: Nemirovich-Danchenko personally ordered that in the process of preparing the performance, the entire Moscow Art Theater plunged into the atmosphere of the novel.

The story of a passion

Nemirovich-Danchenko had long wanted to stage “Anna Karenina”: the story of a woman rebelling against the ideas of bourgeois society about morality seemed to him interesting material for work. He wanted to see, under a magnifying glass, the awakening of love in Anna, throwing between duty and emotions, the reputation of a married lady and the opportunity to sincerely love and be loved.

Tolstoy, as the director said, was always “dear to our theater”: The Moscow Art Theater has repeatedly turned to his works, and once the author himself wrote with a request to stage his play "The Power of Darkness", because others did not cope with this task.

“Tolstoy's novel is enormous in its philosophical scope. It covers not only Anna's tragic passion, but also Levin's painful reflections on the meaning of life, the severity and chastity of the relationship between two loving creatures, the huge issue of children in the then social order, and a number of others,” wrote the director in the article “Anna Karenina” on the stage of the Moscow Art Theater”.

Vladimir Ivanovich decided to focus only on Anna's line: to expand, as far as possible, her story, character, to show the tones of her relationships with other characters. Nemirovich-Danchenko wrote to the second director Vasily Sakhnovsky, what a pity was to refuse from many scenes - "the station scene, the ball scene, the Bologoi scene." “In our spectacle, the story of Anna and Vronsky`s meeting and falling in love is not too important. It is important what happened from this,” he stressed.

Anatoly Verbitsky as Alexei Vronsky. Moscow Art Academic Theatre named after A.P. Chekhov. 1957

Stars of the Moscow Art Theater

The stage set and costumes were created by the artist Vladimir Dmitriev. Austerity, luxury, brevity are the main principles that guided the master. In every piece of furniture, be it a chair or a floor lamp, in every element of the costume, the true essence of the past era, opposite to Soviet ideals, was to be reflected.

“And I would like to give right away, with the very first curtain, this background, this atmosphere, these solemn forms of life consecrated by the scepter and the church - Princess Betsy, diplomats, light, palace, courtiers, hypocrisy, careerism, civilized, beautiful, strong, steadfast, brilliant by eye and by ear. And against this background, or, rather, in this atmosphere - because both Anna and Vronsky are themselves flesh of the flesh and blood of the blood of this atmosphere - a fire of passion,” wrote Nemirovich-Danchenko to Sakhnovsky.

For the role of Anna, he chose one of the leading actresses of the then troupe of the Moscow Art Theater, Alla Tarasova, who had played in the plays Three Sisters, The Brothers Karamazov, Uncle Vanya, Days of the Turbins, Othello and many others. Nikolai Khmelev appeared on the stage with her. Theater critics unanimously admired his Karenin, the way he was able to represent the personage. A week after the premiere, Tarasova and Khmelev received the title of People's Artists of the USSR. Alexei Vronsky was played by Mark Prudkin, Steve Oblonsky - by Victor Stanitsyn, Princess Betsy - by Angelina Stepanova.

Alla Tarasova as Anna Karenina and Nikolai Khmelev as Alexei Karenin. Moscow Art Academic Theatre named after A.P. Chekhov. 1937

One of the main conditions of Nemirovich-Danchenko was full immersion in the 1870s. Before rehearsals, the actors studied all kinds of materials about the historical period in which the novel had been written, they were arranged consultations with specialists. The actors had to know perfectly how the people of the upper class had behaved, down to the smallest detail. “Anna Karenina” was read and re-read by everyone: actors, administration, and ordinary employees. For several months, the novel became a reference book for almost the entire Moscow Art Theater.

Character Explorer

At rehearsals, Nemirovich-Danchenko insisted that the actors adhere to the main task and do not deviate from it. He was guided by one of the principles of Stanislavsky's system, according to which every gesture, look and word should be strung on a single thread, like beads.

The director deeply studied the characters, psychological portraits of heroes and called on the actors to the same. The personage, he believed, should be holistic both in social and psychological manifestations. He helped Tarasova find the very state in which Anna Karenina was, for example, at the races, when she was ready to throw herself down with excitement for Vronsky, or the feeling of impending horror when she decided to die under the wheels of a train.

Alla Tarasova as Anna Karenina. Moscow Art Academic Theatre named after A.P. Chekhov. 1937

The director did not stop at analysis alone. Often Vladimir Ivanovich himself played the roles in front of the actors, trying to convey all the subtleties, all the depth of each character. “Judging by the performances of Nemirovich-Danchenko at the rehearsal, he is a born actor,” said Stanislavsky. At the same time, the director gave only a sketch, an unfinished portrait - the rest was left to the artist.

"Theater of a living person"

The theater was going through a difficult period at that time. Due to disagreements with Nemirovich-Danchenko, Konstantin Stanislavsky practically retired, occasionally staged performances, paying more attention to the opera house.

Nemirovich-Danchenko sometimes had to let on the stage plays that were frankly weak, but approved by the censorship: the theater, which recently received the abbreviation "USSR", was closely watched by the highest party bodies. But he also knew how to make masterpieces of them.

Vladimir Ivanovich Nemirovich-Danchenko

Only a few years ago, the Moscow Art Theater was named after Gorky, so the repertoire of the works by this author could not be dispensed with. Some performances were staged by Vladimir Ivanovich himself, for example, the plays "Egor Bulychev and others", "Enemies". The latter, created in 1953, was called by theater critics "the standard of socialist realism," and the Moscow Art Theater itself was called "the theater of a living person."

In the late 1930s, more emphasis was placed on the works of domestic authors, their foreign colleagues appeared in the repertoire very rarely. Nemirovich-Danchenko skillfully maneuvered between the classics and modern drama. “Anna Karenina” became one of his most famous productions of that period. The play was shown a thousand times - the last time “Anna Karenina” could be seen on March 2, 1969.

Story background:

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Teleplay by Tatiana Lukashevich

"Anna Karenina" did not leave the stage for a very long time, and in 1953 the director Tatiana Lukashevich, who shot the films "Foundling", "Gavrosh" and "Dance Teacher", decided to immortalize the famous performance on the screen.

The composition of the artists has been partially changed. Nikolai Khmelev and Mark Prudkin were replaced by Merited Artist of the RSFSR Nikolai Sosnin and Stalin Prize Laureate First Degree Pavel Massalsky. But the title role was played by the same Alla Tarasova, who at that time was already 55 years old. Massalsky, who played the role of Vronsky, was 49.

The film-play was extremely popular - in the first year it was watched by more than 34 million viewers.

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Source: mos.ru

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