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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of Russian actors who made a great contribution to the development of Russian stage realism and who were closely linked with the development of a new phase in Russian theater, associated with the plays of A. N. Ostrovskii.

Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii (real surname Ermilov). Born Oct. 11 (23), 1818, in Livny; died July 16 (28), 1872, in Moscow.

After his father’s death, Sadovskii was brought up by his maternal uncles, the prominent provincial actors G. V. Sadovskii and D. V. Sadovskii (hence the stage name Sadovskii). In 1832 he joined a Tula troupe and performed in theaters in Kaluga, Riazan’, Voronezh, Kazan, and other cities. In 1839, Sadovskii made his debut at the Malyi Theater in Moscow through the help of M. S. Shchepkin, who had seen him on the stage in Kazan.

Sadovskii played stock characters in vaudevilles, for example, Filatka in Filatka and Miroshka—the Rivals by P. G. Gri-gor’ev (better known as Grigor’ev 2). His talent for satire became apparent in Gogol’s plays, especially in the roles of Podkolesin in Marriage and Osip in The Inspector-General. His gifts were best revealed in the plays of A. N. Ostrovskii. Sadovskii helped to familiarize the Russian public with Ostrovskii’s works and performed in the first productions of all his plays. He skillfully portrayed petty tyrannical merchants, such as Tit Titych in A Hangover at Someone Else’s Feast (1856) and Difficult Times (1863), Dikoi in The Thunderstorm (1859), and Kuroslepov in Fiery Heart (1869). His dramatic talent was revealed in the role of Krasnov in Sin and Misfortune Are the Common Lot (1863 and 1867) and especially in the role of Liu-bim Tortsov in Poverty Is No Crime (1854), Sadovskii’s best role.

The most important representative of the traditions of the Malyi Theater, Sadovskii interpreted the essential nature of the characters he portrayed primarily through the spoken word. Precise diction and a flexible voice helped him to develop special speech patterns for every character. Sadovskii created many roles at the Malyi Theater, including Raspliuev in Su-khovo-Kobylin’s Krechinskiïs Wedding (1855) and Ananii and Mitrich in Pisemskii’s A Bitter Fate (1863) and Arbitrary People (1866). He also performed in comedies by Molière, Shakespeare, and Calderón, as well as in operas, for example, the role of Faddei in the comic opera The Miller, the Magician, the Swindler, and the Matchmaker, with libretto by Ablesimov and music by Fomin. Sadovskii developed the acting style introduced by Shchepkin. His acting embodied the national characteristics of Russian realism: simplicity, naturalness, a close link with life, a tendency to express characters as everyday contemporary people and to reveal their specific national traits, attention to man’s inner world, and the use of the spoken word as the basic means for portraying a character. Sadovskii’s stye influenced many Russian actors. Sadovskii was also the author of humorous short stories and a splendid storyteller.

Mikhail Provovich Sadovskii Born Nov. 12 (24), 1847, in Moscow; died there July 26 (Aug. 8), 1910. Son of Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii.

Sadovskii was trained for the stage by his father and by A. N. Ostrovskii. During the period 1867–69 he took part in productions of the Moscow Arts Circle. In 1869 he debuted at the Malyi Theater in the roles of Podkhaliuzin and Borodkin in Ostrovskii’s It’s a Family Affair, We’ll Settle It Among Ourselves and Don’t Get Into Another Man’s Sledge, and in 1870 he became a member of the company. He performed more than 60 roles in Ostrovskii’s plays, including Shchastlivtsev in The Forest, Murzavetskii in Wolves and Sheep, Andrei Belugin in Belugin’s Marriage, Karandyshev in The Girl Without a Dowry, Meluzov in Talents and Admirers and Khlynov in Fiery Heart.

A follower of his father, Sadovskii was an exponent of the democratic trend in art and an expert on the mores of old Moscow; he had a perfect command of stage speech. His typically Russian style was marked by a profound, truthful depiction of life, noble simplicity, vivid humor, and sincerity, as well as by dramatic intensity and satirical sharpness. A prominent theme in Sadovskii’s work was the fate of his contemporary—the unnoticed, simple, unfortunate man. Some of his other important roles were Khlestakov in Gogol’s The Inspector-General, Petr and the First Peasant in L. N. Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness and The Fruits of Enlightenment, Misail in Pushkin’s Boris Godunov, and Kalguev in Nemirovich-Danchenko’s New Business. He wrote a series of sketches and short stories drawn from the life of merchants and meshchane (members of a social class in Russia that comprised various categories of townspeople, such as craftsmen and tradespeople) in the outer reaches of Moscow (published 1899, in two volumes). His translations of plays by Racine, Beaumarchais, Goldoni, Gozzi, and others were staged at the Malyi Theater. Sadovskii taught at the School of Music and Drama of the Moscow Philharmonic Society and conducted drama courses at the Moscow Theatrical School.

Olga Osipovna Sadovskaia (née Lazareva). Born June 13 (25), 1849, in Moscow; died there Dec. 8, 1919. Wife of Mikhail Provovich Sadovskii.

Sadovskaia inherited a gift for music and singing and a love of folk songs from her father, an opera singer in the Imperial Theaters in Moscow. She took part in productions of the Moscow Arts Circle, where prominent actors performed along with amateurs. She performed as Nastas’ia Pankrat’evna in Ostrovskii’s A Hangover at Someone Else’s Feast and in other roles with the circle. Sadovskaia was deeply influenced by A. N. Ostrovskii, who read his own plays to the actors of the circle and took part in their productions. In 1879 she debuted at the Malyi Theater as Evgeniia, Varvara, and Gushchina in Ostrovskii’s A Lively Place, The Thunderstorm, and One Old Friend Is Worth Two New Ones. She became a member of the company in 1881. She was successful in portraying true-to-life women, women of the meshchanstvo, and peasant women.

The most important female interpreter of Ostrovskii’s work, Sadovskaia devoted her principal attention to the spoken word. She had a perfect command of spoken Russian and its melodic patterns, vernacular, and syllabic stresses. Musicality, an inexhaustible wealth of intonations, virtuosity in handling dialogue, changes in tempo, and a diversity of rhythms imparted a rare expressive quality to Sadovskaia’s stage speech. Her acting was completely free of artificiality, as exemplified by her natural way of speaking and non theatrical stage presence; it was also noted for its richness, clarity, and refined humor. Among her best roles in Ostrovskii’s plays were Domna Pantelevna in Talents and Admirers (1881), Anfusa Tikhonovna in Wolves and Sheep (1893), Glafira Firsovna in The Ultimate Sacrifice (1895), Mavra Tarasovna in Truth Is Good, But Happiness Is Better (1897), and Krasavina in When Your Own Dogs Are Fighting, Don’t Let Someone Else’s Near (1914). Her dramatic talents were revealed in the roles of Galchikha and the Old Peasant Woman in Ostrovskii’s Guilty Though Guiltless (1884) and The Voevoda (1886). Sadovskaia’s best roles in plays other than those of Ostrovskii included Matrena in Tolstoy’s Power of Darkness (1895) and Countess Khriumina in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit (1899). Her last role was that of Zakharovna in Gorky’s The Old Man (1919). Sadovskaia’s acting was highly esteemed by K. S. Stanislavskii, V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, and A. P. Lenskii.

Elizaveta Mikhailovna Sadovskaia. Born Apr. 23 (May 5), 1872, in Moscow; died there June 4, 1934. Daughter of Ol’ga Osipovna Sadovskaia and Mikhail Provovich Sadovskii. Known as Sadovskaia 2 in the theater while her mother was alive.

Sadovskaia was accepted into the Malyi Theater in 1894, after graduating from the Moscow Theatrical School, where she had studied drama under O. A. Pravdin and M. P. Sadovskii. Her acting was distinguished by sincerity, spontaneity, warmth, and refinement. Sadovskaia’s best role was that of Glafira in Ostrovskii’s Wolves and Sheep. Other roles in Ostrovskii’s plays included the title role in The Snow Maiden, Poliksena in Truth Is Good, But Happiness Is Better, Negina in Talents and Admirers, Iulin’ka in A Profitable Post, Verochka in The Jokers, and Varvara in The Thunderstorm. Her repertoire also included the roles of Mar’ia Antonovna in Gogol’s The Inspector-General, Liza in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit, and Suzanne in Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro.

Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii. Born Aug. 9 (21), 1874, in Moscow; died there May 4, 1947. People’s Artist of the USSR (1937). Son of Ol’ga Osipovna Sadovskaia and Mikhail Provovich Sadovskii.

Sadovskii graduated from the Moscow Theatrical School, where he had studied drama under A. P. Lenskii and M. P. Sadovskii. In 1895 he joined the Malyi Theater. Even during his first years in the theater he successfully performed such roles as Glumov and Mizgir’ in Ostrovskii’s Even a Wise Man Stumbles and The Snow Maiden, Chatskii in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit, and Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He was particularly successful in portraying strong-willed, determined men, for example, Haakon in Ibsen’s The Pretenders, Berkutov in Ostrovskii’s Wolves and Sheep, and Dato in Sumbatov’s High Treason. Sadovskii’s portrayal of Commissar Koshkin in Trenev’s Liubov’ Iarovaia (1926), an outstanding stage embodiment of the heroic image of a Russian communist, remains a landmark in the history of Soviet theater. His best roles included Rasstegin in Trenev’s On the Neva’s Bank, Talanov in Leonov’s Invasion, Neschastlivtsev in Ostrovskii’s The Forest, and Famusov in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit. Sadovskii also staged Ostrovskii’s The Snow Maiden (1922), A Lively Place (1934), Even a Wise Man Stumbles (1935), and Wolves and Sheep (1944), as well as Griboedov’s Woe From Wit (1938).

Sadovskii received the State Prize of the USSR in 1943. He was awarded two Orders of Lenin and various medals.

Among the members of the Malyi Theater company (1975) is Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii’s son Prov Provovich Sadovskii (born 1926). His nephew Mikhail Mikhailovich Sadovskii (born 1909, died 1977), Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1949), also performed there.


Koropchevskii, D. “Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii.” From “Vospo-minaniia o Moskovskom teatre.” Ezhegodnik imperatorskikh teatrov, Sezon 1894–1895 gg. (Includes supplements.) Book 2. St. Petersburg, 1896. Pages 13–59.
Efros, M. E. Prov Sadovskii: Opyt kharakteristiki. Petrograd, 1920.
Kara-Murza, S. G. Malyi teatr, 1891–1921. Moscow, 1924. Pages 51–64, 168–81.
Ostrovskii, A. N. Dnevniki ipis’ma. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Sem’ia Sadovskikh: Sb. Edited by VI. Filippov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Durylin, S. N. P. M. Sadovskii. Moscow, 1950.
Klinchin, A. P., and P. M. Klinchin. Prov Mikhailovich Sadovskii. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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