Estonian Vanemuine Theater

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Estonian Vanemuine Theater


(named after the god of song in Estonian mythology; full name, Estonian Academic Vanemuine Theater of the Estonian SSR), the oldest Estonian theater. It was founded in 1870 in Tartu upon the initiative of the Estonian poet and dramatist L. Koidula. Its performances represent all genres of stage art: opera, drama, operetta, and ballet.

The theater was headed from 1878 to 1903 by the conductor and stage director A. Wiera and from 1906 to 1914 by K. Menning, under whom a professional company was formed. A ballet company was organized in 1935. Since 1940 the theater has been headed by K. Ird, who has mounted many fine productions. It was designated an academic theater in 1966. Much attention is given to the works of contemporary Estonian authors.

The theater has staged excellent productions of Trenev’s play Liubov’ larovaia (1957), Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (1964), Smuul’s The Wild Captain (1965), Miller’s The Crucible (1969), Madách’s The Tragedy of Man (1971), Vaigur’s Village Hongs (1972), and Tammsaare’s The New Demon From Hell (1976). Outstanding operas have included Ernesaks’ Stormy Coast (1949), Mozart’s Cost Fan Tutte (1959), Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (1960), Shostakovich’s Katerina hmailova (1966), Ojakäär’s The King Feels Cold (1967), Bush’s Guyana Johnny (1969), Prokofiev’s The Gambler (1970), and Taktakishvili’s Mindiia (1973). Among its most successful operettas have been Dunaevskii’s Free Wind (1948), Miliutin’s Trembita (1953), Arro and Normet’s Rummu Jüri (1954), Kōrver’s Only a Dream (1955), and Rashel’s Enrico 100 (1972). Fine ballet productions have included E. Kapp’s Kalevipoeg (1950), Glière’s The Bronze Horseman (1952), Auster’s Tuna (1958), Tubin’s Kratt (The Goblin, 1961), Paganini, based on Rachmaninov’s music (1963), and Pōldmäe’s The Mermaid (1974).

In 1978 the theater’s actors and singers included People’s Artists of the Estonian SSR E. Ani, H. Peep, and H. Elviste, Honored Artists of the Estonian SSR R. Adlas, E. Kivilo, M. Koidu, I. Kuusk, R. Loo, B. Mikkal, E. Tamul, J. Tooming, E. Hermakiila, and L. Eelmäe, and Honored Art Worker of the Estonian SSR E. Hermann. Ballet soloists included Honored Artists of the Estonian SSR Y. Paznyak and A. Udovenko. The principal stage director was Honored Artist of the USSR K. Ird; the principal conductor, Honored Art Worker of the Estonian SSR E. Kõlar; the principal choreographer, Honored Artist of the Estonian SSR Ü. Vilimaa; and the principal stage designer, Honored Artist of the Estonian SSR M. Säre. The theater acquired a new building in 1967, in which a concert hall was opened in 1970.

The theater has performed in the German Democratic Republic and in Finland and Hungary. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1955.


Cos. ordena Trudovogo Krasnogo Znameni teatr “Vanemuine” Estonskoi SSR. Tartu, 1957.
“Vanemuine” täna ja eile. Tartu, 1970.
“Vanemuine,” 1870–1970. Tallinn, 1970.


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