Thursday, December 17, 2009
DAVYDOV Vladimir Nikolaevich (real name Ivan Nikolaevich Gorelov) (1849-1925), actor, pedagogue, People's Artist of the Respublic (1922). In 1866, he graduated from a gymnasium in Tambov. In 1867-80, started in the provinces, working his way from bit parts, to simpleton roles in vaudevilles and operettas, to the position of lead actor. In St. Petersburg, he was one of the principles in the Alexandrinsky Theatre Company in 1880-86 and in 1888-1924 (in 1886-88 he worked at F.A. Korsch's Moscow Theatre). Due to his virtuoso acting technique and masterly psychological portrayal of characters, Davydov, an acclaimed comedian, extended the boundaries of the available repertoire. He overcame the flatness of genre acting, showing both the comical and dramatic elements of any single character, particularly in his portrayals of Moshkin from The Bachelor and Kuzovkin from Fortune's Fool by I.S. Turgenev; Shmaga from Guilty without Guilt by A.N. Ostrovsky; and Ivanov from Ivanov, Firs from The Cherry Orchard, Chebutykin from Three Sisters by A.P. Chekhov. Davydov created his best characters for productions of Russian classics: Famusov in Woe from Wit by A.S. Griboedov; the Governor in The Inspector General, Kochkarev and Podkolesin in The Marriage, Chichikov in Dead Souls by N.V. Gogol; and Rasplyuev in The Marriage of Krechinsky by A.V. Sukhovo-Kobylin. An acknowledged character actor for everyday roles, Davydov brought to life over 80 of Ostrovsky's characters (including Khlynov in Fervent Heart, Balzaminov in The Holiday Dream Before Dinner and in The Marriage of Balzaminov, Podkhalyuzin in It's A Family Affair, Lynyaev in Wolves and Sheep), created expressive characters of peasants (Akim in The Power of Darkness by Leo Tolstoy), and even brilliantly performed female characters (Poshlepkina in The Inspector General, matchmaker Fekla in The Marriage, and Prostakov in The Minor by D.I. Fonvizin). From foreign plays, he preferred those of J.B. Moliere (Harpagon in The Miser, Scapin in The Schemings of Scapin, Jourdain in The Bourgeois Gentleman, Sganarelle in The School for Husbands, Tartuffe and Orgon in Tartuffe). The most important Shakespeare character created by Davydov was Falstaff from The Merry Wives of Windsor. In his late creative period, he rarely appeared on the stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre, performing in other Petrograd theatres (the Theatre of the Union of Dramatic Artists, the People's House, and the Passage). In 1924-25 he worked as an actor at the Moscow Maly Theatre. In 1883, he began lecturing at the Petersburg Conservatory, and in 1888 taught drama courses at the Petersburg Drama School. He wrote a memoir called A Story of the Past (Leningrad; Moscow, 1962). Buried at Nikolskoe Cemetery, his remains were transferred to the Necropolis of Masters of Arts in 1936.