Dmitrevskii, Ivan Afanasevich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dmitrevskii, Ivan Afanas’evich


Born Feb. 28 (Mar. 11), 1734, in Yaroslavl; died Oct. 27 (Nov. 8), 1821, in St. Petersburg. Russian actor, director, teacher, and theatrical figure. Member of the Russian Academy (1802).

Dmitrevskii was a friend of F. G. Volkov and his supporter in the creation of a theater in Yaroslavl (1750). With Volkov’s troupe, Dmitrevskii was summoned to St. Petersburg and in 1752 was sent to the St. Petersburg Gentry’s College “to be prepared for the actor’s calling.” In 1756 he joined the first Russian permanent public drama company, headed by Volkov and the dramatist A. P. Sumarokov. Dmitrevskii was one of the major figures of Russian classical theater. His best roles were Sinav and Dmitrii in Sinav and Truvor and The False Dmitrii of Sumarokov and Alceste in Moliére’s The Misanthrope. Dmitrevskii helped improve the social status of the Russian theater, widen its repertoire, and develop a national tradition of acting. From 1780 to 1783 he directed, taught, and played at the St. Petersburg Knipper Theater, designed for the popular theater-goer. Later, he taught at the St. Petersburg Theatrics School. Rejecting the canons of classical aesthetics, Dmitrevskii produced Beaumarchais’s Eugenie, himself playing the role of Clarendon. He translated a number of plays of the sentimental school. Dmitrevskii’s rapprochement with D. I. Fonvizin and I. A. Krylov played an important role in his creative work. In 1782, despite objections from the court, Dmitrevskii produced The Minor of Fonvizin; his performance of Starodum became one of his best roles. He was the first Russian actor to tour abroad (in 1765-66 and 1767-68); and he was the teacher of several generations of actors, among whom were A. S. lakovlev and E. S. Semenova.


Vsevolodskii-Gerngross, V. Ivan Afanas’evich Dmitrevskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.