Livanov, Boris Nikolaevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Livanov, Boris Nikolaevich


Born Apr. 25 (May 8), 1904, in Moscow; died there Sept. 22, 1972. Soviet Russian actor and director. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948). Son of an actor.

Livanov studied at the Fourth Studio of the Moscow Art Theater (MKhT) and joined the Moscow Art Academic Theater (MKhAT) in 1924. He began directing in the 1950’s.

Livanov moved into the ranks of outstanding representatives of the new, postrevolutionary generation of MKhAT artists with his early roles—for example, Shakhovskoi in Tsar Fedor Ioannovich by A. K. Tolstoy, Bondesen in At the Gates of the Kingdom by Hamsun, Almaviva in Day of Madness, or The Marriage of Figaro by Beaumarchais, Apollos in Untilovsk by Leonov, and Cassio in Othello by Shakespeare. Subsequently he played roles permeated by a cheerful, festive feeling of life (Kimbaev in Fear by Afinogenov and Shvandia in Liubov’ Iarovaia by Trenev) and roles of undisguised satirical resonance, which he performed with a rare wealth and fullness of coloration and a captivating comic spirit (the cavalier Rippafrata in Goldoni’s Mistress of the Inn and Nozdrev in Dead Souls, after Gogol).

Livanov created characters marked by lyricism (Chatskii in Woe From Wit by Griboedov) and brought the authenticity of everyday detail to roles combining romanticism and emotional scope (Kudriash in Ostrovskii’s The Thunderstorm and Rybakov in Pogodin’s Kremlin Chimes). In the role of Solenyi (Chekhov’s Three Sisters), Livanov paradoxically combined the parodic sharpness of his external depiction with a suppressed and profound lyricism.

All of Livanov’s later work was imbued with a striving toward the philosophical interpretation of reality and the creation of powerful, contradictory characters who arose at the watershed of two eras (Zabelin in Pogodin’s Kremlin Chimes and Egor Bulychov in Gorky’s Egor Bulychov and the Others) or people who tragically realize the impossibility of finding a moral ideal (Dmitrii Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov, after Dostoevsky). Livanov’s work as a director also moved in this direction—for example, Egor Bulychov and the Others (1964) and The Seagull by Chekhov (1969).

Livanov began acting in motion pictures in 1924. His best parts included the heroic-romantic roles of Dubrovskii (Dubrovskii, 1936), Pozharskii (Minin and Pozharskii, 1939), Rudnev (The Cruiser “Variag,” 1947), and the General (Poem of the Sea, 1958) and the brilliant satirical role of Potemkin (Admiral Ushakov, 1953). He made a great contribution to the embodiment of the communist man on screen with his performances as Bocharov in Baltic Deputy (1937) and Commissar Vikhrov in The Baltic Fleet Sailors (1938). In 1969 he played a scientist, Dr. Sedov, in Degree of Risk. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1941, 1942, 1947, 1949, 1950, and 1970). Livanov also received the Order of Lenin, five other orders, and several medals.


Ivanova, E. G. B. N. Livanov. Moscow, 1955.


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