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Founder of the Theater on Tanganka Yuri Lyubimov Turns 93

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Founder of the Theater on Tanganka Yuri Lyubimov Turns 93


The founder and perennial artistic director of the Theater on Taganka Yuri Lyubimov is celebrating his 93rd birthday today, ITAR-TASS reports. He plans to spend the day at work, as the theater prepares to open its 47th season.

Lyubimov was congratulated by President Dmitry Medvedev. “You are a person of rare talent and courage, an artist with a sharp sense of civic responsibility and ability to vigorously stand your ground,” the president said in a telegram. “The legendary Theater on Taganka, which you created, has for decades remained a symbol of freedom, morality and innovation in the arts. It is no surprise that through your endless energy you inspire new generations of pupils. You also foster an engaged and thinking audience.”

Yuri Lyubimov was born September 30, 1917, in Yaroslavl. After service in the Soviet Army during the World War II, Lyubimov joined the Vakhtangov Theatre (founded by Yevgeny Vakhtangov). In 1953, he received the USSR State Prize. Lyubimov started teaching in 1963 and formed the Taganka Theatre the following year. Under Lyubimov, the theatre rose to become the most popular in Moscow, with Vladimir Vysotsky and Alla Demidova as the leading actors.

Long a Soviet underground classic, Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita was finally brought to the Russian stage at the Taganka in 1977, in an adaptation by Lyubimov. After Vysotsky's death in 1980, all of Lyubimov's productions were banned by the Communist authorities. In 1984, he was stripped of Soviet citizenship. Thereupon Lyubimov worked abroad before returning to the Taganka Theatre in 1989.

While in the West he maintained a busy directing career. In the US he directed Crime and Punishment at Arena Stage and Lulu at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His effort to re-stage his famous The Master and Margarita at the American Repertory Theater failed to materialize due to a disagreement with the management of that company. His staging of Eugene Onegin premiered in the Taganka on his 85th birthday to much critical acclaim. In 1983 he directed Crime and Punishment in London, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Director.

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