Tabakov passes away: ''Titans leave. Who will come instead?''

Sad news came on 12 March evening: Oleg Tabakov passed away. An actor, director, teacher, producer – he was multifaceted. The formation of Sovremennik theatre wasn't possible without him, he founded Tabakerka, which became a cult. Spectators remember him for tens of roles, he presented his inimitable timbre to the legendary cat Matroskin forever. Realnoe Vremya tells how Oleg Tabakov will be remembered.

From the first call-up

Oleg Tabakov will forever remain one of the symbols of the ''thaw'' for theatregoers of the 50-60s of the last century. His acting fate was so that he gave a name to a term in theatre studies unbeknown to him – ''Rozov boys''. In other words, it's young heroes, uncompromising, who won the fear that had been bothering the people for tens of years. The war is behind, the fear of repressions is behind, the consequences of Stalin's cult of personality are revealed. The young hero openly says what he thinks.

Student Misha in the staging of Rozov's Ever Living in Sovremennik, which was only born then, was Tabakov's first work. And although the action of the drama of Viktor Rozov takes place during the war, Misha was quite a modern hero, the softness and intelligence combined in him with a firm civic position.

The second character whom Tabakov played on the stage of Sovremennik was also from Rozov's play – In Search for Happiness. The burgess and narrow mindedness, the absence of ideals – this is what he fights against without fear. He fought in the play in a direct sense of the world – he grasped the sword and chopped the furniture. The strike of the young soul against burgess was so.

The late fifties in the country were the time of the ''thaw''. A new unpretentious theatre – Sovremennik – was born on its wave. The new theatre required new dramaturgy, Viktor Rozov became such a dramaturg. And Oleg Tabakov personified the new hero that society needed. It was a young, smart, sensitive, intelligent person with a strong sense of justice. To see such heroes on the stage of Sovremennik, people stood in queues for nights. It's difficult to say whether Moscow has ever had a similar theatre boom ever.

Scene from In Search for Happiness. Photo: Mikhail Ozersky / RIA Novosti, 1960

Oleg Tabakov is among the first call-up of actors in Sovremennik. He is a loyal pupil, supporter and colleague of art leader of the theatre Oleg Yefremov.

Tabakov was born in 1935 in Saratov to the family of nurses. Two exactly opposite bloods mixed in his veins – Russian serfs and Polish aristocrats.

His first acquaintance with theatre was in the Pioneers' Palace whose theatre studio he joined. In Moscow, he entered two theatre universities at once – the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts and the Moscow Art Theatre School. He chose the second educational establishment as a homage to the Art Theatre and Stanislavsky's studies. He was the youngest in the course, a funny provincial from Volga. His classmates touchingly called him Lyolik.

Salieri and cat Matroskin

Oleg Tabakov was an actor of divine naturalness – he could be convincing when playing quite unclear Salieri, the comic role of Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins or cunning Nazi Schellenberg in Seventeen Moments of Spring. The cat Matroskin that speaks with his voice is a gold pool of Russian the animated cartoon industry.

Tabakov was loyal to Sovremennik, without doubt. But life was so that he chaired the Moscow Art Theatre in the early noughties by having served in this theatre as an actor for several years. With his arrival to the art director's armchair, the theatre got its leading positions again. However, two theatres – Sovremennik and Moscow Art Theatre – weren't obviously enough for Tabakov, he created his own, favourite Tabakerka that has been one of the most visited theatres of Moscow for tens of years already.

Mr Tabakov was like a person without age. He wasn't afraid of experiments, he ran risks and gave not only young but also quite radical directors a chance to stage in the Moscow Art Theatre. He gathered the best companies in the country in Tabakerka and the Moscow Art Theatre. Such reckless bravery is a characteristic of the youth, it seems he remained this reckless ''Rozov boy'' in soul till the last minute. Lyolik who came to conquer Moscow and conquered not only Moscow.

Flowers for Mr Kachalov

The Moscow Art Theatre, aesthetic and art principles of Stanislavsky, Nemirovich-Danchenko and their pupils were an enduring value for Tabakov. When a bronze monument to Vasily Kachalov made by sculptor Asya Minnullina opened in the atrium of the Kachalov theatre in Kazan, Tabakov wanted to be at the opening very much, but he couldn't.

In autumn 2010, together with the actors of the Moscow Art Theatre company, he was in Kazan on tour and, of course, visited the Kachalov theatre. He brought a big bunch of flowers, laid to the foot of the monument to one of the best Moscow Art Theatre actors in the era of Stanislavsky, talked with Kazan colleagues.

Frame from Mary Poppins, Goodbye! film

''We talked with Mr Tabakov in Moscow, he hosted our company when we were on tour on the Moscow Art Theatre stage. We also met in other situations. It was an actor of divine naturalness, a seasoned master. Unfortunately, titans pass away… Who will come instead?'' director and art manager of the Kachalov theatre Aleksandr Slavutsky sadly commented to Realnoe Vremya.

The actor was severely ill in the last months but fought for life. Hope either appeared or disappeared. Though we believed that the ''Rozov boy'' could wave a sword!

Sad words were published on Sovremennik's Facebook page: ''It's been known right now Oleg Tabakov, an outstanding actor, one of the creators of Sovremennik, has passed away. We consider this loss as personal. Anton, Marina, Pavel, Masha, Aleksandra, colleagues from the Moscow Art Theatre and Tabakerka, we're with you in these terrible hours. We will always remember the great person.''

Mourning was announced in the theatre, the company won't perform plays for three days. The farewell to Mr Tabakov will be on the stage of the Art Theatre, the date hasn't been announced yet.

By Tatiana Mamayeva

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