Moscow Art Theater
How much do you know about the Russian theater? Certainly, there were and there still are some great actors and actresses. But many of them are still unknown to the general public. Europe, and Russia, in particular, had a rich literary scene at the beginning of the 20th century. Many famous literary works came to life on a stage of the Moscow Art Theatre.
One of the actresses who performed there with great success was Maria Nikolayevna Krasovskaya-Kalitinskaya, or simply, Maria Germanova. She had debuted in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Cesar” in 1903, and soon she started to play all the main female roles. She was true rising star of the Moscow Art Theatre. Her biographer Inna Solovyova wrote: “The physical beauty, the reverberating nerve beat, the sharp perceptiveness made Germanova one of the rising stars of the early 1900s’ Russian theatre scene and a promising tragic actress in the vein of Duse”.
The Blue Bird
The play “Blue Bird” (French: “L’Oiseau bleu”) is a work of Belgian playwriter Maurice Maeterlinck. It was premiered in Moscow Art Theater in 1908. The role played by Maria Germanova attracted most of the attention among the public, mainly because of Germanova’s costume. The photo of Maria Germanova became so famous that it led to many interpretations and mystery stories in the various blogs. This role of the witch brought Germanova fame outside of the Russian borders.
Maria Germanova had a rich career in theater and movies as well. She starred in five silent films produced in Russia, most notable “Anna Karenina”, directed by Vladimir Gardin in 1914.
After her breakthrough in Moscow, Germanova moved to Kyiv in 1919. During this time she revived most of her best-known parts of the past such as Grusenka in “The Karamazov Brothers” and Elena Andreyevna in Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”. Later, in the mid-1920s, she became the theater director herself. In 1929 she went to the US and that year succeeded Richard Boleslawski as the head of the American Laboratory Theatre, where she produced Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Little is known about Maria’s personal life, except that she refused to return to Moscow and that she married the archeologist and art historian Alexander Kalitinsky. However, this great actress didn’t leave us empty-handed. A few years before her death, her diary saw the light of the day. This extremely rare manuscript contains all the details from Germanova’s life, from her childhood to old age.
We hope that Maria Germanova will stay remembered as one of the greatest European actresses before WWII. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more articles.