Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre

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The Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre (Московский Академический Музыкальный Театр имени народных артистов К. С. Станиславского и В. И. Немировича-Данченко) is a musical theatre in Moscow.

The theatre was created on 1 September 1941 when the Stanislavski Opera Theatre and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko's musical theatre were merged. Although Constantin Stanislavski and Nemirovich worked together at the Moscow Art Theatre (which they had established in 1898), their musical companies operated independently for the two decades of the Interwar period. The present-day theatre is based in its own building with one opera and two chamber music halls in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street, near Pushkin Square. The program traditionally includes opera and ballet by Prokofiev, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and other classical composers.

Stanislavski's Opera Studio[edit]

In 1918 Stanislavski founded an Opera Studio under the auspices of the Bolshoi Theatre, though it later severed its connection with the theatre.[1] Its successful production of Werther in 1923 was banned while the director was abroad.[2] In 1924 it was renamed the "Stanislavski Opera Studio" and in 1926 it became the "Stanislavski Opera Studio-Theatre", when it moved into its own permanent base at the Dmitrovsky Theatre. In 1928 it became the Stanislavski Opera Theatre. Shortly before his death in 1938 Stanislavski invited Vsevolod Meyerhold to take over the direction of the company; Meyerhold led the theatre up to his own arrest in June 1939.[3]

Conductors : include Mikhail Zhukov 1922-32, 1935–38, current (2011) is Felix Korobov.

Nemirovich-Danchenko musical theatre[edit]

Nemirovich had participated in the Bolshoi's production of The Snow Maiden but soon left for independent work. Nemirovich leaned towards popular operetta and vaudeville. At the end of 1920 he started production of Lecocq's La fille de Madame Angot, causing an uproar of the "serious drama" core of Moscow Art Theatre company. The show premiered in May 1920, starring Valeria Barsova and guests singers from Poland and Bolshoi company, and became a sell-out hit. A number of successful shows followed until 1925, when the company left for a long tour of Europe and the United States. Nemirovich took up an American offer and stayed in Hollywood until September 1927;[4] a substantial part of his company refused to return to Soviet Russia; the company itself disintegrated.[3]

When Nemirovich returned to the USSR in 1926, he had to start from scratch. For years, his operetta studio did not have a permanent base and orchestra, borrowing both from Stanislavski's theatre in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street. The company produced primarily musical comedy shows but also the "serious" opera - Traviata and Katerina Izmailova, both in 1934; Katerina Izmailova was banned in 1935 and resumed in 1962.

War and merger[edit]

In June 1941 Nemirovich's company performed on a tour in Murmansk and nearby military bases. Immediately upon the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa it returned to Moscow; the shows resumed on 10 August. Stanislavski's company returned to Moscow from Yaroslavl. On 1 September 1941 the companies, reduced in number, were merged to become the "Moscow State Musical Theatre of Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko." Nemirovich was appointed its artistic director. Keen on overcoming the limitations of the opera genre, he defended the title of a musical theatre. In September 1941 part of the company was evacuated first to Nalchik, then to Tbilisi and finally Ashabad; Nemirovich with the core of his company stayed in Moscow, performing for the troops. His Moscow company was the only Moscow theatre performing in the disastrous October–November 1941.[5]

Nemirovich, after a short evacuation to Tbilisi, returned to Moscow in September 1942; he died in April 1943. After his death the theatre was managed by Joseph Tumanishvili (stage direction) and Samuil Samosud (musical department). Over four years of the war the company, split in small groups, performed 770 shows for the front-line troops. Two of its staff were killed in action and one group of artists was taken prisoners of war.[5]

Post-war period[edit]

After the war the theatre, directed by Samosud (and later Dmitri Kitajenko and Lev Mikhailov), continued operation as a primarily classical opera house; it retained some successful vaudevilles produced in 1930s, but their share was gradually reduced. In 1960s–1980s the theatre regularly collaborated with Komische Oper Berlin, inviting Walter Felsenstein and Dieter Mueller to produce musicals in Moscow.

In 1976 Pravda launched an unforgiving attack against the "revised" version of Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. The show was salvaged through support of artistic circles.[5]

In 1989 the theatre suffered its first disastrous fire. The main hall was not damaged, but the fire destroyed the props storage; 20 titles were canceled for years. In December 1990 the company refused to perform in a strike action against the management. The city of Moscow shut down the theatre for two weeks; in January 1991 it reopened under the same management. In July 1991 the orchestra and the choir resigned with their conductors, taking some of the opera soloists with them, finally prompting a replacement of the management.[5]


The theatre, surviving a second fire in 2005, is currently managed by Vladimir Urin (general director), Alexander Titel (artistic director of opera), Felix Korobov (chief conductor), Igor Zelensky (artistic director of ballet) and Vladimir Arefiev (chief stage designer).

The company's repertoire since 2005 has included:

The building[edit]

The theatre stands on the site of Count Pyotr Saltykov's estate. Parts of the ground floor of Saltykov's house survived the fire of 1812 and subsequent expansions and are now integrated in the theatre lobby and the small concert hall. In 1839 Praskovya Saltykova leased the building to Moscow Merchant Society. The Club regularly invited notable musicians; in 1843 it presented concerts by Franz Liszt. Liszt had to play two grand pianos, one by one, so that each quest in a crowded hall could see his face and hands; the audience rewarded Liszt with a three-meter sturgeon and a gypsy choir show. Moscow legend asserts that Liszt's affection to gypsy art stemmed from the Moscow shows of 1843.[8]

The theatre in 2014.

In the middle of 19th century the Saltykovs sold the building to Bakhrushin family. The Bakhrushins continued leasing the building to the Merchants' Club until 1908, when the tenants relocated to a the new building three blocks away. Then the owners leased the building to short-lived theatres, cabarets and a casino, until in 1913 they struck a deal with fashionable impresario Friedrich Thomas. Bakhrushins commissioned Karl Gippius to build a large concert hall adjacent to Saltykov's mansion; Thomas came in to manage Maxim's Moscow. The new venue was a hit among the wealthy patrons; quest stars ranged from opera singers to Inayat Khan, the founder of Universal Sufism.[8]

After the 1917 revolution the building, now known as Dmitrovsky Theatre was shared by different theater companies. Stanislavsky moved in the main hall of Dmitrovsky theatre in 1926. Nemirovich theater did not have a permanent base; it shared the stage and training areas with Stanislavsky theatre. In 1938–1939 the whole compound was rebuilt to its current shape; the stalinist facade hides original structures of Saltykov's ballroom and the 1913 cabaret hall.[8]

In 1937 the theatre acquired the bells of the demolished Strastnoy convent, used as stage props; in 1990s they were donated to the church in Arbat District.

In May 2005, when the theatre was evacuated and closed for a scheduled renovation, the main stage was destroyed by an accidental fire; the load-bearing structures and smaller concert halls survived. The company moved to Bolshoi theatre and later moved out of country for a long overseas tour. The small stage was reopened in February 2006, the main stage in September 2006.[9]


  1. ^ Benedetti (1999, 211) and Stanislavski and Rumyantsev (1975, x).
  2. ^ Carnicke, p. 31
  3. ^ a b Kazenin, chapter 1928-1941 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "K28" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ See Bertensson for a detailed account of this period
  5. ^ a b c d Kazenin, chapter 1941-1949 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "K41" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "K41" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ Moscow Times review
  7. ^ Ballet schedule
  8. ^ a b c Shainyan
  9. ^ Kazenin, chapter 2006


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°45′53″N 37°36′39″E / 55.76472°N 37.61083°E / 55.76472; 37.61083