Solomon Mikhoels


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Mikhoels, Solomon Mikhailovich

 

(pseudonym of S. M. Vovsi). Born Mar. 4 (16), 1890, in Dvinsk; died Jan. 13, 1948, in Minsk. Soviet Jewish actor. People’s Artist of the USSR (1939).

In 1919, Mikhoels joined the Jewish Theater Studio in Petrograd, which later became the Moscow Jewish Chamber Theater (from 1925, the Moscow State Jewish Theater, or GOSET). Mikhoels was an actor and stage director at the Jewish Theater; in 1929 be became its artistic director. Mikhoels’ depiction of his roles was detailed and masterful and was noted for its philosophical depth and strong civic-mindedness. A master of word and gesture, Mikhoels’ acting was expressive and possessed a sculpture-like harmony of form and movement. Originally performing in comedies and plays of manners, Mikhoels expressed his heroes’ sense of dignity and their desire to rise spiritually over the poverty of the life around them (for example, Benjamin III in Mendele Mocher-Seforim’s Travels of Benjamin III). Mikhoels’ talent as a tragic actor was most fully apparent in his portrayal of the title roles in Shakespeare’s King Lear (1935) and Shalom Aleichem’s Tevya the Dairyman (1938).

Mikhoels’ best work as a stage director was Freilekhs (1945; State Prize of the USSR, 1946), which was based on themes from Jewish folk music. The production was distinguished for its poignant conception and virtuoso improvisation.

In his articles and lectures, Mikhoels promoted a theater of profound philosophic thought and brilliant and daring imagery. He was instructor at the school of the Moscow Jewish Theater, where he became a professor in 1941. Mikhoels was awarded the Order of Lenin.

WORKS

Stat’i. Besedy. Rechi. Vospominaniia o Mikhoelse. 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965.

REFERENCES

Grinval’d, la. B. Mikhoels. Moscow, 1948.
References in periodicals archive ?
That evening, in Moscow, he spoke emotionally of the deep cultural links between American and Russian Jews, saying that through the song, he wished to pay homage to his friends Solomon Mikhoels and Itzik Feffer.
In a few short years, Solomon Mikhoels was murdered on Stalin's orders.
Goldman examines the work of prominent participants in the Yiddish moving picture, including Isaac Babel and the Moscow State Yiddish Theater's director Aleksandr Granovsky and actor Solomon Mikhoels. Chapter 4 focuses on the United States between 1929 and 1937, to study how Yiddish film was employed to construct a Yiddish-speaking cinema audience among Jewish immigrants in America..
The saddest of those who tried to stay in lockstep with Stalin's orders was the Russian-Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels. He was capable, as the author indicates, of "superb performance." He was also capable of acting as the Bolshevik leader's most abject lackey.
For the Moscow State Jewish Theatre (GOSET) Les Kurbas prepared to direct Solomon Mikhoels as Lear in 1933, and they agreed that he learns to feel what the suffering masses feel.
Natalya Vovsi-Mikhoels, daughter of Solomon Mikhoels, one of the leading Jewish actors in Russia, and wife of Moise Weinberg, one of Shostakovich's close friends, had no doubt that it was his protest against the treatment of Jews by the state.
Seemingly, this was just another hit and run case; but it was soon revealed the dead man was Moscow Jewish National Theatre director Solomon Mikhoels, the most famous Jew in the Soviet Union.
In 1928, GOSET's leadership was assumed by its star actor Solomon Mikhoels, who was trusted enough by Stalin to serve as the regime's spokesman abroad in the 1940s.
The memorable Lear of Solomon Mikhoels in the State Jewish Theater of 1935 is noted as are the masterworks of related art forms inspired by Shakespeare--for example Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, which premiered at the Kirov in 1940.
With: Lyubov Orlova, Evgenia Melnikova, Vladimir Volodin, Sergei Stotiarov, Pavel Massalsky, Aleksandr Komissarov, Solomon Mikhoels.
So in 1943, he sent to America from the Russian Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Itsik Fefer, the Yiddish poet, and Solomon Mikhoels, the great Jewish theater director, to raise money from American Jews for Russian War Relief.
Solomon Mikhoels, its most famous actor and long-time director, attained international renown for his portrayal of a Yiddish-speaking King Lear and his wartime travels as the head of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.
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