Rus Articles Journal

What the Sheremetevsky theater in Ostankino is well-known for?

In Russia the 18th century the private theater quite often competed on the splendor to state. Many operas, comedies, magnificent allegorical representations went on the theatrical stages in manors of notable grandees, put by forces of serf actors, musicians and masters of a scene. Value of such theater was beyond house entertainment and became the phenomenon in cultural life of the Russian state. Quite often at representations there were troupes invited by the owner notable dignitaries and even regal persons.

In the territory of modern Moscow only one of such private serf theaters - Sheremetevsky theater in the well-known estate of Ostankino, in the architectural relation forming a basis of all farmstead ensemble remained. The architectural complex of the estate developed within four centuries and belonged to different owners. But gained the real blossoming and fame of Ostankino at the brilliant fan of theater - the count Nikolay Petrovich Sheremetev.

At the end of 1787, after Pyotr Borisovich Sheremetev`s death, possession passed to his son - to Nikolay Petrovich Sheremetev who did not want to go in the footsteps of ancestors and to do military career. Well knowing theatrical gave also literature, being fond of music, the count decides to organize at himself in a manor professional theater. As actors he uses own serfs, previously having trained them in theatrics.

During lifetime of the father it built the small European equipped theater in Kuskov. But implementation of his extensive plans was impossible near finished and besides sustained in style of last era - baroque and early classicism - Kuskov`s ensemble. In 1790, there was a project of theater for rather uninhabited then Ostankina, executed certain F. Kazye a little famous in quality of the architect (he was considered as an engineer, and also worked as the tutor of children in a family Golitsyn). This project and remained unrealized, however at the beginning of 1792 the two-storeyed wooden theatrical building including only a scenic box and the auditorium was built here.

Now we cannot tell in accuracy any more the name of the architect whose participation was decisive at construction of the unique Ostankino palace - and it despite abundance of documents and graphics. Construction works constantly and very despotically the owner directed. To various architects projects not only separate parts of the building, but also small fragments of an interior were ordered, and some details were bought ready.

The palace was under construction from 1791 to 1799, at different stages was involved in its construction many Russians and foreign architects. The general composition was created in two steps, during over a year: from spring of 1792 to summer of 1793. Ivan Evgenyevich Starov who was working hard for Sheremetev in St. Petersburg and also Victor Frantsevich Brenna was one of the main authors of the project of the palace. However then almost each separate part changed and extended. At the same time also just executed most difficult finishing was destroyed: artificial marble, a gilded wooden carving and its imitation in imprinted paper, a molding, lists, a damask upholstery and pieces of paper - painted wall-paper. Projects of reorganization were executed by architects Francesco Camporesi and Giacomo Quarenghi, but they were not pleasant to the owner and he charged work as the serf architect to Alexey Mironov, Grigory Dikushin and Pavel Argunov who worked on the most important problem of theatrical buildings here - optical visibility of a scene, designing of the auditorium. It is difficult to find other building in which the tree would be used so unusually, comprehensively and skillfully in architectural heritage of Russia. In hands of the Ostankino masters it took a form of marble and metal, alabaster and plaster.

The main sights of the palace - the theatrical and machine halls, artistic bathrooms created according to drawings of the serf master. The possibility of its fast transformation in a ballroom, " became original feature of the Ostankino theater; voksat in the form of which it also reached us. This scenic equipment was created by the serf master Ivan Pryakhin. The equipment of the machine hall allowed to change heavy and volume scenery in 2 - 3 minutes, to create scenic effect. And the auditorium could turn in 20 minutes into a ball hall: special mechanisms cleaned chairs and fake columns, lowered chandeliers. The auditorium in Ostankin could accomodate up to 250 viewers. The scene received in depth of 22 meters (with a width of 17 m) and became one of the biggest in Russia of that time.

In Sheremetev`s theater the serf troupe from 200 talented actors, singers, musicians, dancers acted. Names of many serf Sheremetev became history of the Russian art. This is the composer - the conductor Stepan Degtyaryov (whose life after dissolution of troupe came to an end tragicly: he died of alcoholism), the tool master Ivan Batov, the actress Tatyana Shlykova - Granatova, the director and the playwright Vasily Voroblevsky - and among them is Praskoviya Ivanovna Kovalyova (Parasha Zhemchugova) who had drama talent, voice, but also uncommon composer abilities, rare on beauty and expressiveness.

When the count Nikolay Petrovich Sheremetev saw Parasha, he was so struck with her beauty and voice that could not but got acquainted with this woman closer. Sheremetev met really rare and high soul in the actress, and his love became passion constant and only soon. To marry it, the count thought up a legend that Praskoviya is the nobleman`s daughter who after death of parents was accepted in a country family. For huge money necessary documents, but, despite it were fabricated, marriage of the serf actress and nobleman was officially recognized only after Praskoviya Kovalyovoy`s death. For Praskoviya Kovalyovoy - Zhemchugova also built the palace - theater in Ostankino.

The repertoire of theater of Sheremetev included over one hundred works - operas, ballets, comedies. When opening theater on July 22, 1795 gave Ivan Kozlowski`s opera on Pavel Potemkin`s words Capture of Izmail, or Zelmira and Smelon (unfortunately, music of this opera is nowadays lost). At representation in even unfinished theater there were veterans russko - the Turkish war.

At Sheremetyevo operas of outstanding musicians of the 18th century - the German Hristofa Willibald Gluck were presented ( Echo and Narcissus ) Frenchman Henri Ernest Gretri ( Samnitsky marriages Zemira and Azor Lucille ), Giovanni Paiziyello`s Italians, popular in Russia ( Zamora`s Infanta Feigned mistress ), Niccolo Piccinni ( Atis Didona Roland ), Giuseppe Sarti ( Rinaldo ), and also the Russian composers - Evstigney Fomin ( Anyuta Novogorodsky athlete Boyeslavich ), Vasily Pashkevich ( Sanktpeterburgsky Gostiny dvor Fevey ) . Magnificent opera performances were given for eminent guests: in day of the holiday arranged with Sheremetev in 1797 in honor of the emperor Paul I Gretri`s opera " was staged; Samnitsky marriages ; it was repeated a bit later for the Polish king Stanislav Augustus Ponyatovsky.

In theater concerts were given: sonatas of the famous St. Petersburg virtuoso Ivan Handoshkin, choral concerts of the conductor Degtyarev were executed. Comedies of Alexander Sumarokov and his followers - Yakov Knyazhnin, Nikolay Nikolev, Vasily Voroblevsky were put. Scenery were written by outstanding decorators of that time: Pietro Gonzago, Valezini, Gilferding, Gatfild, Bibiyena and others, and also talented serf painters G Mukhin, K. Funtusov, S. Kalinin.

Blossoming of Ostankino was bright, but is short. In 1801 the holiday, last during lifetime of N. P. Sheremetev, in honor of the emperor Alexander I took place. Soon the troupe was dismissed, and the estate is for a long time left by owners. Sheremetev owning Ostankin till 1917 did not resume activity of theater. There was no it and in 1918 when the Ostankino palace became the museum. The theater continued to keep silence. Only in 1988 performances began again: the museum tried to restore repertoire of Sheremetevsky theater at least partly.

Now Ostankino - the only theater of the 18th century in Russia which kept a scene, the auditorium, make-up rooms and part of mechanisms of an engine room. Once having transformation potential, the theater reached us in the form of a ballroom voksala . The orchestra pit which is still not restored in initial forms disappeared. Nevertheless, the hall time from time is used for statement of ancient operas and holding chamber concerts. However all this is only echoes of former greatness: the theatrical scene which could become main a stronghold of authentic playing music in Moscow needs full, competent and comprehensive restoration.