Theatrical art of soviet Ukraine

Les Kurbas 1930sTheatre born of the October revolution.

 

As the event which gave the biggest impulse to social progress this century, the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 ushered in a new era in the development of world culture. For the Ukrainian people the Revolution opened broad horizons for artistic endeavour and the development of their national theatrical art. Tire Ukrainian theatre today has become a component and inseparable part of Soviet theatre, an organic unity which is multinational in form and internationalist in spirit. It is a theatre appropriate to a new historical community — the Soviet people, whoso representatives speak different languages, and successfully draw on the most precious features and traditions of the culture and mores of every people of our country.

 

During the sixty years or more of its development within the family of Soviet theatrical cultures, the Soviet Ukrainian theatre has enriched and renovated its artistic traditions. Enjoying the care and support of the Communist Party and Soviet Government, its modern repertoire represents the fruits of close collaboration with the Republic’s playwrights and composers.

Throughout the ages the working people of the Ukraine have created inimitable treasures of poetic, musical, vocal, dance and histrionic art. But it was only after the victory of the October Revolution that the Ukrainians gained the right to fully reveal, their spiritual powers and create a professional national art whose most significant achievement is Soviet Ukraine’s drama and music theatre.

 

Before the Revolution Ukraine had only one resident professional national theatre company — Mikola Sadovsky’s Ukrainian Theatre, which was opened in Kiev in 1907. Its most brilliant star was the outstanding actress .Maria Zankovetska. Apart from dramas by Marko Kropivnitsky, Mikhailo Staritsky, Ivan Karpenko-Kary, Lesya Ukrainka and Ivan Franko, the theatre also staged operas and operettas by Mikola Lysenko, KiriJo Stetsenko, Semen Hulak-Artemovsky and Denis Sich insky.

Ivan maryanenko KharkovToday Ukraine has some 80 theatres representing all types of histrionic art. Of this number six are opera and ballet companies, and three specialize in operetta and musical comedy. Besides, there are dozens of musical drama and drama companies, as well as children’s and puppet theatres. Many conservatories and drama schools have their own workshops and studios. The workshop at the Karpenko-Kary College of Theatrical Art in Kiev and the studio at the Kiev Tchaikovsky Conservatory stage interesting performances from a varied modern and classical repertoire.

Young people studying theatrical art are provided with the best facilities in Ukraine, such as the grand Ukraina Palace of Culture in Kiev, which has a seating capacity of 4,000. The Palace organizes reviews of the Republic’s beginning and acclaimed performers and offers an interesting program of opera, ballet and operetta, concerts put on by students at drama and choreographic schools, and the traditional “Young Voices” Festival which always reveals another new talent in the performing arts. Almost every week the Palace is full of children attending shows by the local Opera House or the Operetta Theatre. Consistently of a high standard, the shows give the children the best possible education in Soviet theatre.

Almost every theatre company in Ukraine has a special program for children. These programs are prepared by directors, conductors, designers and actors with a special, sense of responsibility. The Ukraina Palace offers its stage to loading theatre companies from Moscow, Leningrad, and other Soviet republics; foreign performers on tour always draw a full house.

Ukraine’s famous singers today — Dmitro Hnatyuk, Yevgenia Miroshnichenko, Anatoliy Solovyanenko, Mikola Kondratyuk and Anatoliy Mokrenko — are some of the most frequent performers at the Palace.

Besides opera, ballet and operetta troupes, other guests include Kiev’s Ivan Franko Ukrainian Theatre, the Lesya Ukrainka Russian Theatre, the Young Communist League Youth Theatre, the Puppet Theatre, Kiev’s Music Hall, and various variety shows.

The Soviet Ukrainian theatre is in a process of steady expansion. Existing companies are continually being renovated or moving into new premises equipped with the latest in stage sets and lighting. Recently Ukraine’s sixth opera house was opened in Dnepropetrovsk, a major Ukrainian industrial, cultural and educational centre.

In December 1974 the Dnepropetrovsk Opera opened its first season with Alexandr Kholminov’s patriotic opera Optimistic Tragedy based on the play of the same name by the well-known Soviet playwright Vsevolod Vishnevsky. This production was followed by musical dramas by Soviet Ukrainian composers — Kostyantin Dankevich’s historical opera Bogdan Khmelnitsky, Levko Kolodub’s The Dnieper Rapids, and Mikhailo Skorulsky’s ballet Song of the Forest based on Lesya Ukrainka’s verse play of the same name.

A prominent place in the Opera’s repertoire is occupied by Russian and world classics — Alexandr Borodin’s Prince Igor, Petr Tchaikovsky’s Iolanthe, George Bizet’s Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoleito and. La Traviata, Tchaikovsky’s ballets Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and Adolf Adam’s Giselle.

Hnat Yura and Vasil VasilkoThe Dnepropetrovsk Opera has also presented distinctive interpretations of works by composers from other Soviet republics, e. g., such ballets as Spartacus by the Armenian Aram Khachaturian, Bakhchisarai Fountain by the Russian Boris Asafyev (based on Alexandr Pushkin’s poem of the same name), and Mother’s Field by the Kirghiz Kaliy Moldabasanov (based on a story by Chinghiz Aitmatov), and the heroic opera And Quiet Flows the Don by the Leningrad composer Ivan Dzerzhinsky created to motifs from Mikhail Sholokhov’s world-famous novel. Every theatrical season adds a new success to the Opera’s string of achievements. In the summer of 1977, the year marking the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution., the company performed 011 the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre and the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, capturing audiences and critics alike by its vigour and superlative stage effects.

Among the latest theatre premises to have appeared in Ukraine are those in Zhitomir, Simferopol and Lutsk. All of them have resident companies who stage dramas, musical comedies, operettas and modern musicals.

In Lutsk the local Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Theatre of Music and Drama offers a varied repertoire of modern plays by Olexandr Korniyclmk, Olexiy Kolomiets and Mikola Zarudny, works of classical drama (e. g., Ivan Franko’s Stolen Happiness and Lesya Ukrainka’s Song of the Forest), and the latest musical comedies by Soviet and foreign authors.

Every regional centre in Ukraine has its own theatre of music and drama, and the larger cities have several companies with performers, styles of acting and repertoires all of their own.

The ancient city of Lvov, a major centre of industry, science and learning in Western Ukraine, has the Ivan Franko Opera House, the Maria Zankovetska Ukrainian Theatre, the Gorky Children’s Theatre, the Soviet Army Theatre and the Puppet Theatre.

Residents of Lvov also eagerly attend productions by the opera workshop at the Mikola Lysenko Conservatory. The Regional Philharmonic Society offers interesting programs, and numerous amateur groups in the city invite theatregoers to Lvov’s Palaces of Culture and students’ and workers’ clubs.

For sophistication and vigour theatrical life in Lvov today is a huge advance 0n the situation before 1939 when Western Ukraine was reunited with Soviet Ukraine into one state. Forty years ago Lvov’s theatres led a wretched existence, while its actors, compassionately called “Melpomene’s beggars,” lived from hand to mouth. Commenting on the state of Ukrainian theatre in Western Ukraine under the rule of bourgeois Poland, the outstanding Soviet Ukrainian author and playwright Yaroslav Halan wrote that the history of struggle for theatre in Lvov was a “history of struggle for the elementary rights of the Western branch of the Ukrainian nation. To think about great theatre art under these conditions was difficult; what remained were only dreams, the tragic dreams of the roving stars and enthusiasts of the Ukrainian stage, who ruined their talent and their best years of life in the quagmire of Galician provincialism.... September 1939 was the month of Western Ukraine’s liberation, a time when Ukrainian culture blossomed and was reborn on this side of the Zbruch River. It marked the turning point in Ukrainian theatre in Galicia, particularly in Lvov.”

In her memoirs My Life Story, the outstanding Western Ukrainian actress Lesya Krivitska, People’s Artist of the UkrSSR, who still works at the Zankovetska Theatre in Lvov, recalls the emotions of her fellow-actors during those historic days when Western Ukraine threw off the yoke of foreign overlordship: “Broad vistas opened before us. We all felt a new surge of energy, all of us seemed to have been born anew into this world. We were proud and happy to become free Soviet citizens.”

Talented Western Ukrainian actors, including Ivan Rubchak, Lesya Krivitska and the then young Yaroslav Gelyas, who is now People’s Artist of the UkrSSR and. heads the Transcarpathian Theatre of Music and Drama in Uzhgorod, found creative happiness on the boards of the Zankovetska Theatre which today is one of the foremost companies in the Soviet Union. It has performed successfully in Moscow and Kiev and demonstrated its high skill in the capitals of other Soviet republics, capturing audiences with its skill and culture and a versatile repertoire which combines masterpieces by national classics (Taras Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, Ivan Franko and Ivan Karpenko-Kary) and others by Russian playwrights (Alexandr Ostrovsky, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky) with tragedies by Shakespeare and Schiller and productions by Soviet playwrights (Nikolai Po-godin, Konstantin Trenyov, Boris Lavrenyov, Olexandr Korniychuk, Yaroslav Halan, Olexandr Levada, Mikola Zarudny, Olexiy Kolomiets).

The well-knit company is a remarkable blend of actors of different generations and individualities. Apart from the founder of the theatre, People’s Artist of the USSR Boris Romanitsky, a Shevchenko Prize winner who was taught by Maria Zankovetska herself, the company has a large group of younger actors who are successfully developing the realistic and profoundly civic traditions of this famous theatrical personality.

Creative unity among different generations of actors is typical of all theatre companies in Lvov, especially so at the Ivan Franko Opera House, which has toured many countries. Its best productions have been staged repeatedly at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses and at the Kiev Opera. The grand production of The Golden Hoop, a patriotic opera by the prominent Soviet Ukrainian composer Boris Lyatoshinsky (based on motifs from Ivan Franko’s historical story Zakhar Berkut), was awarded a Taras Shevchenko State Prize of the UkrSSR.

The Opera’s most outstanding singer is Pavlo Karmalyuk, People’s Artist of the USSR, who in the more than thirty-five years of his career has created dozens of compelling and y;iried characters in classical and modern opera. He has anable following in the People’s Artists of the UkrSSR Olexandr Vrabel, Volodiinir Lubyany and Tamara Didyk.

The leading dancer in the ballet troupe is Natalia Slobodyan, People’s Artist of the UkrSSR. The lyrical qualities of her talent have breathed vitality into many new Ukrainian ballets staged at the theatre, above all Anatoliy Kos-Anatolsky’s Dovbush’s Kerchief, Jaybird’s Wing (based on Ivan Franko’s story) and Orisya, and Vitaliy Kireiko’s Shades of Forgotten Ancestors composed to motifs from Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky’s story of the same name.

The ballet troupe is guided by Herman Isupov, People’s Artist of the UkrSSR, who splendidly performed the title role in Aram Khachaturian’s Spartacus, as well as in such idiomatically diverse ballets as Dankevich’s Lileya (inspired by Taras Shevchenko’s poetry), in The Creation of the World by the Leningrad composer Andrei Petrov, Thyl Ulenspiegel by the Byelorussian composer Yevgeniy Glebov (based on Charles de Coster’s prose epic), and in Antony and Cleopatra written by the Moldavian composer Eduard Lazarev to motifs from Shakespeare’s tragedy.

The repertoire of the Lvov Opera is particularly diverse. Its productions are staged by conductors Yuri Lutsiv and Igor Latsanich in collaboration with designer Yevhon Lysik — People’s Artist of the UkrSSR, who holds a Taras Shevchenko State Prize of the UkrSSR in his field — and are remarkable for their innovatory quality, modernity and distinctive stage interpretations. The Opera is constantly working with Ukrainian composers in drafting new opera and ballet programs.

The Lvov Opera lias premiered quite a few notable operas, such as Vitaliy Kireiko’s Song of the Forest and She Dug Herbs One Early Sunday Morning (based on Olga Kobilyanska’s story), Yuli Meitus’s Stolen Happiness and Richard Sorge, Anatoliy Kos-Anatolsky’s Lightnings, Serhiy Zhdanov’s The Red Dawn (Maxim Rylsky’s libretto written to motifs from Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky’s story Fata Morgana), and ballets — Miroslav Skorik's Pavers of the Way (based on Ivan Franko’s poem) and Lesya Dichko’s Predawn Lights inspired by Lesya Ukrainka’s revolutionary verse of the same name.

The Opera’s repertoire also includes operas and ballets by Soviet composers and Russian, Ukrainian and world classics. Thus, stage director Dmitro Smolich, People’s Artist of the UkrSSR, assisted by Yuri Lutsiv and Yevhen Lysik, succeeded in staging a compelling production of Modest Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, which revealed in full measure the skill of the singers Volodimir Lubyany, Olexandr Vrabol, Tamara Didyk, Tamara Polishchuk, Volodimir Ihnatenko, Nina Tychinska, and that of their younger colleagues.

The company includes many students of Prof. Pavlo Karmalyuk who combines his operatic career with leading the department of solo singing at the Lvov Conservatory. Through Karmalyuk have been passed on the best traditions of the outstanding Ukrainian operatic singer Solomia Krushelnitska, who also held a professorship at the Conservatory and was given the title of Honoured Art Worker of the UkrSSR for her contribution to the development of the Ukrainian school of singing. Among the Opera’s best productions are Verdi’s romantically exalted opera Ernani adapted from Victor Hugo’s drama Hernani, and The Enchanted Castle by the great Polish composer Stanislaw Moniuszko.

Lvov is not the only theatrical centre in Western Ukraine. There are theatres in other cities of this part of the Republic as well, as, for instance, the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre in Ternopol. This has staged plays by modern Ukrainian playwrights — Korniychuk, Zarudny and Olexandr Pidsukha, works by Russian and Ukrainian classics, Karel Capek’s drama Mother, Yaroslav. Halan’s tragedy Under the Golden Eagle, Bertolt Brecht’s The Rise and Fall of Arturo Ui, and a variety of musical productions.

In Ivano-Frankovsk the local. Ivan Franko Ukrainian Music and. Drama Theatre has built up a repertoire all of its own. Apart from the poetical, historical drama Roxolana by the famous Ukrainian poetess Lyubov Zabashta, Vasil Sichevsky’s play The Enchantress of the Blue Whirlpool, and various modern dramas and operettas (e. g., Johann Strauss’s Fledermaus and Konstantin Listov’s Sevastopol Waltz), the Ivano-Frankovsk company has staged a large-scale production based 0n the stories of Vasil Stefanik, whose perceptive view of society the talented stage director Vitaliy Smolyak, People’s Artist of the UkrSSR, used to create a well-formed and emotionally charged play titled My Land.

Smolyak was the director of the company for many years, educating its members in the best traditions of realism in modern Soviet theatrical art. In the above-mentioned play he brilliantly projected the emotions of an old peasant Ivan Didukh. Unable to bear any longer the grinding poverty and the cruel oppression of a hated bourgeois social system, Didukh is forced, like so many of his hapless compatriots, to emigrate and seek a better life abroad.

The ethnographically coloured episode of Didukh’s parting with his fellow-villagers, who come to see him off to distant “Hamerika,” is fall of drama and despair. Against the backdrop of the blue, fir-covered Carpathian Mountains, a group of mildly drunk young peasants dance near Didukh’s old dilapidated house; the old men furtively wipe tears from their eyes; Ivan’s wife weeps profusely; while he, embarassed, stands there, feeling deep in his heart that he will never see his native land again.

The role of Ivan Didukh, in which Smolyak reflected the thoughts and emotions of Vasil Stefanik’s tragic hero in a subtle psychological way, is but one of the many roles created by the actor. Every new stage character and every new production revealed now facets of Smolyak’s talent. His bold and innovative approach to staging has been an inspiration to the Ivano-Frankovsk company.

Smolyak’s traditions are today developed in a new vein by the company’s present chief director Volodimir Savchenko.

A graduate of the Ivan Karpenko-Kary Slate College of Theatrical Art in Kiev, he did his probation period as a director at Moscow’s Art Theatre. In his best productions he has interestingly combined the traditions of the Ukrainian theatre with the experience of the other Soviet national theatres.

The Olga Kobilyanska Ukrainian Theatre of Music and Drama in Chernovtsy staged some vivid productions under the direction of Volodimir Opanasenko. Opanasenko is equally good in interpreting Olexiy Kolomiets’s allegoric play The Silvery Web, Alexandr Fadeyev’s The Rout (a stage adaption of his famous novel, which is severe in purport and filled with a heroic revolutionary fervour) and Anton Chekhov’s psychological drama The Seagull.

The Chernovtsy company has a number of nationally prominent actors, such as People’s Artists of the UkrSSR Hanna Yanushevich, Petro Mikhnevich and Yuri Kozakivsky. It is also famous for its traditions in realistic directing. One of the founders of these traditions was the prominent Ukrainian director Vasil Vasilko, People’s Artist of the USSR, who had been a student of Mikola Sadovsky and Les Kurbas. He has been spending a lot of effort in providing instructive guidance to the company with which he has staged a number of wonderful works by Soviet and classic playwrights. His deep knowledge of ethnography and folklore was skilfully applied in the stage adaption of The Earth and She Dug Herbs One Early Sunday Morning — a novel and story by the famous Bukovinian authoress Olga Kobilyanska. These productions rank among the greatest achievements of the company and have become permanent fixtures in the repertoire. Vasilko’s experience was furthered by Boris Borin and Volodimir Gripich, both People’s Artists of the UkrSSR, and by Honoured Artists of the UkrSSR Yevgenia Zolotova and Anatoliy Litvinchuk.

The productions of the Chernovtsy company are remarkable for their variety of messages, themes and genres.

 

Olga Misevra as masha and Leonid TarabarinovSide by side with Nikolai Pogodin’s heroic-revolutionary play The Third, Pathetique, Korniychuk’s emotionally charged Heart’s Memory, Mikhailo Stelmakh’s poetical and philosophical dramas The Enchanted Windmill and Ballad About Love, and the premieres of plays by such young Bukovinian playwrights as Volodimir Maryanin and Vasil Folvarochny, the company’s repertoire includes Gorky’s play Yakov Bogomolov, Bertolt Brecht’s anti-fascist drama Mother Courage and Her Children, Laurents’s and Bernstein’s musical West Side Story, Hrihoriy Kvitka-Osnovyanenko’s enduring folk-loric comedy Matchmaking at Honcharivka, the stage adaption of Kobilyanska’s The She-Wolf, Lesya Ukrainka’s philosophical tragedy The Stone Host, and Mikhailo Staritsky’s dramas Oh, Hritsyu, Do Not Tarry Where the Girls Are Making Merry and The Gypsy Aza, which are saturated with Ukrainian songs, dances and colourful ethnographic elements.

These are but some of the productions in the repertoire of the theatre, which have been successfully performed on the stages of Kiev and Moscow. Different as they are in idiom, message and interpretation, they convincingly speak of the range and creative abilities of this company.

In Rovno there is the Nikolai Ostrovsky Ukrainian Theatre of Music and Drama. Like every other company it, too, seeks its own identity in staging plays by authors of yesterday and today. A similar pursuit is typical of the Trans-Carpathian Ukrainian Theatre of Music and Drama in Uzhgorod. Its present repertoire organically combines the old and the new in playwriting — Schiller’s Don Carlos, Ivan Franko’s Stolen Happiness, Mikola Zarudny’s The Time of Yellow Leaves, The Unforgettable, an adaption of Olexandr Dovzhenko’s screenplay, and the drama The Zhmenyaks by the local playwright Mikhailo Tomchaniy, describing the selfless struggle of the working people of Transcarpathia for their reunification with Soviet Ukraine.

Every theatre company in Soviet Ukraine is constantly expanding its program, harmoniously combining in it our classical national traditions with modern interpretations. A wonderful case in point is the Mikola Sadovsky Ukrainian Theatre of Music and Drama in Vinnitsa. For the past thirty-five years its well-knit company has been headed by the theatre’s director Fedir Vereshchagin, People’s Artist of the USSR.

Vereshchagin, was the first director to discover the talented playwright in local journalist Mikola Zarudny who, in 1950, brought his first play, The Spring, to the theatre. Here Zarudny was initiated in the secrets of the stage and quickly developed professionally. In collaboration with him, Vereshchagin created many interesting modern productions.

Today Zarudny’s dramas and comedies can be seen, in every theatre in Ukraine, in Moscow, as well as in many other Soviet republics. But Vereshchagin is always one of the first to interpret the plays of “his” playwright, finding distinctive and frequently ideal forms of figurative and stage presentation for them.

The Vinnitsa company has skilfully applied the synthesis of music and drama inherent in Ukrainian theatre in its stagings of such varied productions as Mikola Arkas’s opera Katerina adapted from Shevchenko’s poem, Mikola Lysenko’s hilarious musical comedy May Night based on Nikolai Gogol’s story, Notre-Dame cle Paris, a stage adaption of Hugo’s famous novel, Zarudny’s vaudeville In the Seventh Heaven, Bertolt Brecht’s public-spirited drama The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and the epic The Haidamaks adapted from Shevchenko’s heroic poem.

Included in the theatre’s repertoire are also Vsevolod Vishnevsky’s The Optimistic Tragedy, Maxim Gorky’s The Old Man, the play Poem About Love by the modem Kazakh playwright Gabit Musrepov, Leonid Leonov’s psychological drama The Invasion, Kobilyanska’s She Dug Herbs One Early Sunday Morning, Rostislav Otkolenko’s vaudeville Hello, Our Daddies, and the new operettas and plays by Ivan Stadnyuk, Zarudny and Kolomiets. Versatility and artistic munificence — those were probably the most commented on features of the company’s productions staged at Moscow’s Art Theatre in August 1975.

Every new theatrical season takes Soviet Ukrainian theatre companies on an increasing number of tours throughout the Soviet Union. In this way our actors contribute to the development of the multinational histrionic art of socialist realism.

In 1977, which marked the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution and the 60th anniversary of Soviet power in Ukraine, Moscow audiences enthusiastically applauded the performances of the Dnepropetrovsk Opera at the Bolshoi and of the Odessa Theatre of Musical Comedy at the Art Theatre. In Leningrad the company of Kiev’s Lesya Ukrainka | Russian Theatre successfully performed on the stage of the j Pushkin Theatre.

That same year Kiev’s Opera and Ballot troupe made a triumphant tour of Rumania, the German Democratic Republic, and Japan, and its best singers and dancers appeared on the stages of France, Italy, the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, in Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Canada and Czechoslovakia.

The achievements of Soviet theatrical art convincingly reflect the profoundly creative and animated atmosphere in which our country lives and works today. The new Constitution of the USSR, which was unanimously approved by all Soviet people on the eve of the October Revolution’s 60th anniversary, confirmed the honourable status of artists in our society of developed socialism and asserted freedom of creativity as an inviolable state law.

The Soviet and foreign press have carried enthusiastic comments on the skill of Ukrainian performers. Small wonder, because today Soviet Ukraine boasts a remarkable array of actors, singers and dancers. Quite a few of them are winners of international and USSR competitions.

Naturally enough, every theatre is proud of its leading performers. The Kiev Opera is probably the most fortunate of all in this respect, because as the newspaper Soveiskaya kultura (Soviet Culture) justly observed, it “holds the first place in the country as regards the vocal wealth and range” of its singers.

Ukraine’s operatic singers, such as Yevgenia Miroshnichenko, Dmitro Hnatyuk, Anatoliy Solovyanenko, Anatoliy Mokrenko, Yevdokia Kolesnik, Lyudmila Yurchenko, Ghiselia Tsipola, Anatoliy Kocherha and Olexandr Zahrebelny, have reaped success in many countries.

At the Second International Festival of Dance in Paris, in December 1964, the Kiev Opera ballet troupe was awarded the Gold Star, the highest distinction bestowed on the world’s best ballet groups.

Today Soviet Ukrainian ballet dancers are known all around the world. They have performed to thousands of theatre-goers in France, Japan, Norway, Italy, the USA, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Finland, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Poland, Portugal and India.

During its concerts in France in December 1964 the ballet troupe of Kiev’s Opera was showered with the highest praise by the French press. Remarked Parisien libere: “The ballet troupe... is one of the best in the Soviet Union. Parisian critics did not even suspect that the Ukrainian troupe was so rich in stars of the first magnitude. Their professional skill and artistry surpassed everything we have been used to see.” And here is what France-Soir wrote to the same effect: “It’s something that impresses and captures; it’s one of the rarest combinations in modern ballet: on the one hand, a sparkling youthfulness of the performers, and on the other, their professional maturity.”

Following the performance of the Kiev artists on the stage of Stockholm’s Royal Opera in May 1964, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter wrote: “The talented Ukrainian ballet concluded its gala concerts will) a fiery Hopak dance which captured everyone. Almost all of the brilliant troupe took part in it. The curtains swayed in the whirlwind of the girls head wreaths and red ribbons. The dancers performed the number with ease and unprecedented virtuosity. The concluding Hopak showed comprehensively the noble vitality of dance and the optimistic spirit of the Kiev ballet.”

In its July 24, 1972 issue the Japanese daily Asakhi simbun remarked: “The Kiev ballet is a distinctive phenomenon in art, contributing its own choreographic idiom to world theatrical art. This was convincingly proved by the first performance of Song of the Forest in Tokyo. The classic dancing in this poetic production was impressive for its excitement and melodiousness imbued with national colouring and sincerity of human emotions.”

The Kiev Opera’s staging of Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Leipzig and Berlin in November 1977 made headlines in the press of the German Democratic Republic.

Over and above the triumphs of our opera, ballet and operetta stars, the same degree of success has also accompanied the performances of Ukrainian drama companies. The tours of Kiev’s Ivan Franko Theatre in the Polish People’s Republic have turned into true festivals of friendship between the two socialist theatrical cultures. Back in 1950, when the Franko Theatre toured Poland for the first time, the noted Polish critic Roman Szydlowski gave a high evaluation of the professional skill and scenic culture of the Kiev company. Noting the fidelity of both the Polish and Ukrainian actors to the principles of realism, he remarked: “But the actors of the Ivan Franko Theatre have one advantage over the best performers of the realistic trend in the Polish theatre: they are able not only to re-create live people on the stage, but, through the method of socialist realism., they can also show the changes in the psychology of the Soviet people engaged in building a now social system.”

 

In the spring of 1978 the Kiev Operetta company made a successful tour of Czechoslovakia. The press gave favourable coverage of every performance, especially of Olexiy Ryabov’s musical comedy The Sorochintsi Fair based on Nikolai Gogol's witty story.


Yuri Stanishevsky


 

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