Pavel Orlenev

Orlenev, Pavel Nikolaevich


(stage name of P. N. Orlov). Born Feb. 22 (Mar. 6), 1869, in Moscow; died there Aug. 31, 1932. Russian actor. People’s Artist of the Republic (1926).

Orlenev studied drama at the Malyi Theater in Moscow and made his debut as a professional actor in 1886. He performed in the provinces, at the Korsh Theater in Moscow (1893–95), and at the Theater of the Literary and Art Society in St. Petersburg (1895–1902, with interruptions). Later, he became an itinerant actor, touring Russian towns with theatrical groups.

At first, Orlenev played the role of a comic simpleton, as well as vaudeville and character roles. His portrayal of the title role in A. K. Tolstoy’s Tsar Fedor Ioannovich (1898), which revealed his enormous gift for tragedy, was a turning point in his career. The main theme of his creative work was the tragic predicament of the pure, honest individual who is forced to live in conditions that he cannot accept but lacks the strength to overcome. Among his best roles were Raskol’nikov in Crime and Punishment and Dmitrii in The Brothers Karamazov (both based on novels by Dostoevsky) and Oswald in Ibsen’s Ghosts.

Heading his own company, Orlenev toured Germany, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden, and Norway. In 1927 he played the role of Beethoven in Zhizhmor’s play of the same name. Orlenev performed his best roles in district theaters and clubs; he also helped amateur groups.


Kugel’, A. R. P. N. Orlenev. Moscow-Leningrad, 1928.
Markov, P. A. Teatral’nye portrety: Sb. st. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Rodina, T. M. P. N. Orlenev. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.