Dramatist Aleksander Ostrovsky
Dramatist Aleksander Ostrovsky
Alexander Ostrovsky (1823–1886) was a dramatist, creator of Russian everyday comedy, and founder of a national repertoire. Alexander Ostrovsky graduated from the Faculty of Law of Moscow University. Afterwards, he worked as a court official; that experience provided him with some material for his plays. Alexander Ostrovsky's first prominent work was the comedy "It's a Family Affair — We'll Settle It Ourselves" (1850), the first play that showed the world of Moscow merchants. The comedy "The Poor Bride" (1853) featured the life of minor officials. In 1850, Alexander Ostrovsky started to work with the Moskvityanin journal. During this period Alexander Ostrovsky created "folk" comedies about the Russian merchants’ life. These plays changed theatre aesthetics and laid the foundation for the Russian national repertoire: “Stay in Your Own Sled” (1853), “Poverty Is No Disgrace” (1854), "Live Not as You Would Like To" (1855). They featured everyday life and clear morality. In 1856, Alexander Ostrovsky joined Sovremennik, a literary and political journal. His works became highly social, and the conflicts — more intense. The most important play of this period was "The Storm" (staged in 1859). We can also name "Hangover at Another's Feast" (1856), "A Profitable Position" (1857), "A Protegee of the Mistress" (1859), and the Balzaminov trilogy (1857–1861). Alexander Ostrovsky also created historical plays: "Kozma Zakharyich Minin-Sukhoruk" (1862), "The Voyevoda (A Dream on the Volga)" (1865); “Dmitry the Imposter”, “Tushino”, “Vasilisa Melentyeva” (1867); "The Comic of the 17th Century" (1873, the 200th anniversary of Russian theatre). In 1868–1884, Alexander Ostrovsky cooperated with the journal Otechestvennye Zapiski. His comedies mirrored everyday life: "The Forest" (1871), "Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man" (1868), "Money to Burn" (1870), "Wolves and Sheep" (1875). Ostrovsky returned to the genre of folk comedy in plays like "It's Not All Shrovetide for the Cat" (1871), "Truth is Good, but Happiness is Better" (1877). "The Snow Maiden" (1873) combined features of a folk tale and lyrical drama. In 1886, he became the Head of Repertoire at the Moscow Imperial Theatres and also the head of the Theatre School. Ostrovsky’s late works are both dramatic and lyrical: “The Last Victim” (1878), "Heart is not a Stone" (1880), "Without a Dowry" (1879), “Talents and Admirers” (1882), "Guilty without Guilt" (1884), the last piece "Not Of This World" (1885). Ostrovsky’s plays have become a timeless classic of Russian literature, and these days you can enjoy them in many Russian theatres — first and foremost, at the Maly Theatre, where the plays were first performed under his supervision. The stars of the productions were Maria Yermolova, Lyubov Kositskaya, the Sadovsky’s, Glikeria Fedotova et al. Our museum holds about 50 000 items telling about Ostrovsky and his work. The museum collection includes his diaries, notebooks, and autographs; we hold letters written to him by Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolay Nekrasov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and other key cultural figures. This album will include some personal belongings; playbills, photos, and scenery, which illustrate Ostrovsky's lifetime productions and later stagings.