History of theatre
New theatre was opened on 18th of December 1910 and named «Palas-theatre», here were performed operettas with participation of best actors of the capital: M. Rahmanova, V. Kavetzkaya, E. Zbrozhek-Pashkovskaya, A. Bragina, M. Rostovtzeva, U. Morfessi. On the ground floor was opened restaurant with cabaret in which stage actors of different genres performed in numerous variety shows. «Palas – theatre» had been working during 9 years.
In 1920 in the building of «Palas-theatre» was opened State theatre of comic opera under direction of K. Mardzhanov. And in 1921 in theatre cellar K. Mardzhanov opened cabaret «Lame Joh» that became immediately popular, in which after performances leading actors of Petrograd theatres every night played small scenes and interludes.
And on the theatre stage was mostly staged neo-Viennese operetta.
In 1929 building was given to just organized «Circus Music-Hall», musical department of the theatre lead composer I. Dunaevsky, choreographic department – K. Goleyzovsky. Among members of program of the new theatre appeared also Tea-jazz under direction of L. Utyosov. Here began her creative carrier well-known in future comic actress G. Bogdanova-Chesnokova.
In 1938 the building was given to Leningrad theatre of musical comedy, that before obtained the building of Peoples House. Theatre opened its regular season by comic opera of French composer D.-F. Auber «Black Domino».
Saint-Petersburg state theatre of Musical comedy was organized in the autumn of 1929 in the building of former People’s House and was opened on 17th of September by one of the best operettas of that time – «Holopka» by N. Strelnikov. In the troupe came most talented and experienced actors of «musical comedy» (management of M. Ksendzovsky and A. Feona), and also leading actors of operetta troupe from Harykov touring in Leningrad. Among them such well-known masters as: B.M. Bronskaya, D.I. Gamaley, M.E. Ferrari, O.M. Shigoleva, ballerina N.V. Pelzer, N.M. Antonov, A.G. German, V.L. Legkov, A.A. Orlov, N.J. Janet and others. Artistic leader of the new group soon after its opening became one of the prominent operetta workers, director and actor – A.N. Feona.
By the middle of 30th to the theatre of musical comedy came the second generation of troupe: K. Astafyeva, N. Boldireva, L. Kolesnikova, L. Taganskaya, V. Hristianova, A. German, I. Kedrov, A. Korolykevich, E. Mihaylov, A. Orlov, V. Svidersky. Conductors were G. Furman, S. Orlansky, E. Kornblit, K. Eliasberg. Performances were staged by well-known directors: V. Solovyev, P. Veisbrem and E. Kaplan. In 30th years theatre became peculiar center for creating of operettas on the modern themes, for work on that operettas were engaged in best composers of that time B. Alexandrov, I. Dunaevsky, N. Strelnikov and others.
During the seasons of 1934 – 1937 years Musical comedy of Gosnardom (State peoples house) were presenting exceptionally works of classic and Viennese repertoire: «The Merry Widow» and «Gipsy Love» by F. Lehar, «The Bat» by J. Strauss, «The Bird Seller» by C. Zeller, comic operas: «Black Dominoes» by D.-F. Auber, «The Fair Helen», «The Bandits» and «The Drum-Majors Daughter» by J. Offenbach.
On lot of Leningrad theatre of musical comedy fell particular destiny – to become the only one theatre that worked in sieged city all 900 days of blockade. Work of theatre team under continues bombings and batters, without food and warmth became the example of true patriotism and selfless service for native land.
The entire theatre collective considered that creative life in the city surrounded by enemy circle shouldn’t stop even for a single moment, that’s why actually in military rate were staged new performances and were reconstructed best from previous ones. In the hardest for city days its inhabitants read in «Leningradskaya Pravda»: «… resumes the work Theatre of musical comedy… Theatre will present two performances daily. Beginning of morning productions at 11.30 a.m., evening – at 04.00 in the afternoon».
On the 6th of September, two days before the beginning of blockade, troupe presented «Maritza» by I. Kalman to the audience of besieged city, on 15th of November – «Three Musketeers» by L. Varney. In December of 1941 next door house was destroyed by direct bomb hit, theatre building was also damaged. On 24th of December in audience hall for the last time curtain was raised, and on next day regular performance was already on the stage of Alexandrinsky theatre, that was empty after evacuation of its troupe.
Tours to battle-front, in hospitals, on «Road of life» became one more responsible task of the collective. During all 900 days of blockade theatre made sponsorship work. There were no one place of battle-front, where have not been concert team of Leningrad Muzkomedia. At the rear and in front line actors gave more then thousand concerts.
In March-April of 1942 theatre produced «Marriage in Malinovka» by B. Alexandrov, «Love of seaman» by R. Benatzky and R. Friml, «The Bird Seller» by C. Zeller.
At the same time was continuing work for the creation of contemporary pieces. For that purpose management attracted writers who were in besieged city: Vs. Vishnevsky, V. Azarov, A. Kron. They wrote libretto of new heroic musical comedy. And already on 7th of November theatre presented it for audience with music of V. Vitlin, L. Krutz and N. Minch. It was called «Sea stretched wide out». Presenting at the opening night poet N. Tihonov wrote in newspaper «Pravda»: «Leningrad great optimism lives in every citizen – defender of the city… audience leaves the theatre in good spirits, cheerful, assured. In severe days of city blockade actors of theatre showed true courage and firmness. Weakened of hunger, they in elegant theatre costumes played in deep-frozen hall, where temperature reached to 8 degrees below zero. Once during the bombardment, when one of the shells blew up near the theatre and somebody from the audience discomposedly stood up from their seats, A. Orlov made a funny pirouette and said with a smile from the stage:
«Comrades, don’t worry. Not for a while yet glasses are falling». Burst of laugh, applauses sounded, and performance continued. During that terrible days in theatre all the time performance were sold out, and queues for the tickets appeared from 5.00 a.m.
During blockade there wasn’t a single replacement, every performance had two casts of performers. Besides work in the theatre its workers served in teams of air defense police. Ballerinas were in medical-health service, were on duty in hospitals and at first sounds of air-raid warning they were hurrying to safe from under ruins of houses citizens that got into bombardment. During the blockade 64 people of the theatre were killed. Despite such heavy losses 16 productions were made. At the same time there was not a single replacement, and each performance had two casts of performers. Theatre curtain was opened during the most severe winter of 1941-42 years – during the days when in the city during a day were dying up to 40 thousands of its defenders. 1 million 300 thousands spectators had visited performances.
Forever are written in pages of history names of: principal G. Maksimov, directors: A. Feona, G. Polyachek, N. Yanet; actors: L. Kolesnikova, V. Hristianova, G. Pavlotzkaya, K. Astafyeva, N. Boldireva, E. Brill, G. Semenchenko, K. Bondarenko, Z. Gabrielyantz, I. Kedrov, A. Korolykevich, E. Mihaylov, A. Orlov, V. Svidersky, A. Solonimsky; conductors: G. Furman, A. Loginov, M. Volovatz, V. Astrov; ballet masters: L. Beyzelman and R. Gerbek; ballet soloists: N. Peltzer, L. Lidina, A. Kamkov, S. Karpov and of many other workers of theatre.
During post-war years were mostly staged operettas of contemporary and already well-known authors: V. Solovyev-Sedoy, U. Milutin, I. Dunaevsky, O. Felyzman, E. Zharkovsky, A. Petrov. During that time talent of brilliant G. Bogdanova-Chesnokova flourished. Was beginning one of periods of theatre prosperity when the collective was leaded by such outstanding masters as director U. Chmelnitzky and conductor G. Doniyah. Young generation came to take place of old men gaining leading positions quickly: Z. Vinogradova, L. Fedotova, V. Kopilov, I. Sorkin, V. Timoshin, A. Shargorodsky.
From 1972 till 1988 years honored worker of arts of RSFSR V. Vorobyev leaded the theatre. With his coming began absolutely new creative phase which has helped the collective to find original creative style, to train actor who has keen feeling of present-day, who with psychological validity is able to create characters of heroes of M. Sholohov, A. Gaydar, B. Brecht, A. Chekhov, A. Suhovo-Kobylin, K. Goldoni. Into the process of active searching of modern stage means of realization of synthetic musical performance got operetta masters and young actors: V. Kostetzky, V. Krivonos, B. Smolkin, E. Tilicheev, E. Driatzkaya, A. Semak, E. Polosina, T. Vasilyeva, V. Kosobutzkaya.
Work of the team was marked with appearing of such well-known performances as «Marriage of Krechinsky», «Case», «Truffaldino» and «Zhar-ptitza» A. Kolker, «Marriage with a general» E. Ptichkin and others.
By 1980th theatre was in extreme need of major repairs. This hard stage was continuing for almost ten years. The troupe was wandering from one stage of Houses of culture to another and of course had no opportunity to work fruitfully. As a result theatre has lost its usual audience during those years.
In 1995 A. Belinsky came to the theatre at the capacity of an artistic leader, he forced the repairs, and in spring of 1996 finally was opened anew equipped Studio stage (there was no Studio stage in the theatre before). Then finally after the Studio stage was opened Big stage.
At present time theatre leads general manager Yury A. Schwarzkopf. He posed in the theatre hard tasks – to bring back the audience loving operetta, to bring up new audience, to stage vivid performances that are worthy of the genre.
Information about how these plans are realized and what is the creative life of theatre now - you may find on pages of our web-site.