The play is like a symphonic orchestra. Probably,
I have become an opera producer not by chance.
Yuri Petrovich was born on 30 September 1917 in the town of Yaroslavl. He grew up in cultured, intellectual family. His mother was a music teacher, his father owned one of the best food stores in town. He was a son of the serfpeasant but he was a talented and educated person. He loved theater, kept a private theater box in Moscow Art Theater, and often brought his family along with him. Children watched “Blue Bird”, “Woe from Wit” in Stanislavsky’s production. In 1922 Lyubimov’s family moved to Moscow. At the beginning of repression times Yuri’s parents were arrested and imprisoned, and young Lyubimov, along with his older brother and younger sister became the children of disfranchised people who were deprived of their civil rights. The family stood up well through the complicated situation. Lyubimov’s parents were released, and Yuri’s grandfather who was thrown out of his house, also moved to Moscow. In 1934 Lyubimov was accepted to the famous MKHAT-2 Studio, and in October of 1935 he acted his first role in the play. “Adjuration about life”, by G. Duval. The theater was closed shortly after that, by the order of Stalin. The period from 1936 to 1940 was dedicated to the study at the Shchukin Theater School affiliated with the Vakhtangov Theater. While still a student, he was enrolled in the basic theater repertoire. After graduation, he was accepted into the Vakhtangov’s Theater troop but, immediately after that, he was drafted to the Red Army where he finished the “School of junior officers”. From the end of 1941, Yuri Lyubimov was transferred to the NKVD Song and Dance Company where he served along with D. Shostakovitch, N. Erdman, M. Volpin, M. Tarkhanov, e.t.a. With this ensemble he performed at the front line. During the period from 1947 to 1963 Yuri Lyubimov was a leading actor of the Vakhtangov Theater. He played more than 30 parts, and he became the idol of the public.
For two years Yuri Lyubimov attended workshops of M. Kedrov, who was the best student of Stanislavsky, and a well-known actor and theater producer. From 1961, he taught at the Shchukin Theater School, and in 1963 Yuri Lyubimov, with his third year students, produced the play “Good man from Sechuan” by B. Brecht. This play began the revolution in soviet theater and set up the basis for the creation of a new theater under the guidance of Yuri Lyubimov.
Lyubimov’s legendary Taganka Theater was born on 23 April 1964. From its first performances, Taganka became the voice of truth and belief, past and future, the voice of memory-concepts, which people couldn’t and shouldn’t live without. During day and night, in any weather, people were waiting at the theater doors, just to get tickets for the play. Most of the time Yuri Lyubimov based his plays on a classical genre, at the same time, they brilliantly confronted contemporary problems. Often, the authorities prohibited performances, insulted the Taganka creator and taught him how to work. But for the people of our country, Taganka was more than just a type of art, because its plays woke up the conscience.
Most of the Taganka visitors were cultured, intellectual people. Destiny favored Lyubimov. Among admirers of his Theater were Nikolai Erdman, Sergei Paradjanov, academician Andrei Sakharov, Dmitri Shostakovitch, Bulat Okudjava, Fyodor Abramov, Boris Mojaev, Andrei Bitov, Elem Klimov, Robert Sturua e.t.a. The unique Artistic Committee gathered under the Theater roof, including such people as academician Pyotr Kapitza, Alfred Shnittke, Edison Denisov, Yuri Trifonov, Andrei Voznesensky, Bella Akhmadulina, Evgeni Evtushenko, theater critics, such as Boris Zingerman, Grigori Boiadjiev, Alexander Anikst, and many others.
Spectators were learning sturdiness, decency and integrity from Lyubimov. The response of Moscow and Theater to the death of Vladimir Vysotsky, who was the poet and actor of the Taganka Theater, was the last drop into an overfilled cup. The authorities prohibited the play dedicated to his memory and cancelled the next play “Boris Godunov” by A. Pushkin. In 1983, Lyubimov was invited to London to produce “Crime and Punishment” by F. Dostoevsky. He was prohibited to return to the Soviet Union, lost his citizenship, position and titles. During the next five years, in his motherland, every reference to Lyubimov was prosecuted and suppressed. Meanwhile, he kept working on new productions. Most of them were operas. He enrolled best actors in the best theaters of the world, including the “La Scala” theater in Milan, the Staatsoper in Munich, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera of Bonn, London’s Royal Opera Theater, Covent Garden e.t.a. “I am an authorized opera-representative abroad,” jokes Yuri Petrovich. No Russian producer is more in demand abroad than Lyubimov. “The world was blessed with his banishment,” wrote one of the western newspapers. In 1989 Lyubimov was given back his soviet citizenship, and he returned home. His triumphal return was accepted in intellectual circles as a complete victory.
Nowadays Lyubimov intentionally refuses western contracts and dedicates himself only to his Theater. Taganka and its plays have got a new life. Former admirers of Lyubimov’s talent, who brought their children to the plays, bring their grandchildren today.
Never in its history has the Taganka Theater troop made so many guest performances. During the last five years, they went to Italy, Hungary, Japan, Greece, Germany, Croatia, Finland, France, the United States of America, Israel, Turkey, South Korea, Columbia, Hong Kong e.t.a. Some of these countries the troop visited several times.
Yuri Lyubimov has many highest foreign awards and prizes for his theatric shows. He knew many famous people, such as C. Abbado, L. Nono, Sir J. Gilgoud, L. Olivier, H. Weigel, J. Vilar, J-L. Barraut, A. Kurosava, G. Stehler, I. Bergman, A. Magnani, M. Mercouri, R. Guttuso, W. Beatty, R. Redford, H. B_ll, A. Miller and A. Kobo. They highly valued his work.
For many years maestro conducts workshops and master-classes in different countries, where he teaches actors and art-directors his own created theater system and aesthetics. In Italy along, he has worked in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Turin, L’Aquila, Napoli, e.t.a.
There are three generations of Lyubimov’s students acting under Taganka’s roof today. Last year, Yuri Lyubimov selected students for the ”Musical theater”, Department of State Institution of Theatrical Arts (GITIS). Today’s freshmen are already participating in productions.
For the last twenty-five years Yuri Petrovich is married to Katalin. She graduated from the Philological Department of Moscow State University and the Journalistic Department of Budapest University. She is fluent in Russian and five other languages. Katalin completely neglected her own career and dedicated her life to her husband, sharing joy and troubles with him.
They have a son, Peter. He is 23 years old. He studied in Israel, received his High School Diploma in Cambridge, and accomplished traineeship in Italy. Now, he is graduating from university in England.