Yesterday, March 12, marked 75 years since the death of the great Russian drama actress Maria Yermolova. Stanislavsky wrote about her: "She is a whole epoch for the Russian theater. She symbolizes femininity, beauty, power, pathos and sincerity... She has a brilliant tactfulness, enthusiastic temperament, a great nervousness and unfathomable depths of the soul." The actress was born on July 15, 1853 into the family of a theater prompter. Tremendous work was done before the actress first appeared on the stage. When she studied at a ballet school that her father had helped her enter, she was said to be talentless. When young Yermolova appeared on the stage of the Maly Theater playing the wordless parts of pages, she was laughed at. The situation was changed by good fortune: there came an offer for Yermolova to play the part of Emilia Galotti in Lessing's play at the benefit night of Medvedeva instead of an actress that had fallen ill. The performance was a sensation, and the gift of the young actress was noticed at last.
For the 50 years of working on the stage, Yermolova played 282 roles, most of them in plays by the Russian classic Alexander Ostrovsky: "The Storm", "The Passionate Heart", "Slaves" and "Talents and Admirers". The actress was a success even when she participated in foreign authors' plays. Playing the Maiden of Orleans, she was admired by the audience so much that the public encored her sixty-four times! Simultaneously with the work in the theater, the actress often read verses on the concert hall stage.
Despite her active scenic activity, in everyday life Yermolova was reserved. She "guarded her inner life," writer Shchepkina-Kupernik, a friend of Yermolova's, wrote about the actress.
Having won a lot of prizes and titles, Maria Yermolova left the stage in 1921. She died in 1928. Her house-museum in Moscow, where Yermolova lived until her demise, keeps the memory of the great Russian drama actress.
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