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Russian Director Lyubimov Dies At Age 97

  • RFE/RL

Yuri Lyubimov pictured in 2005.

Yuri Lyubimov pictured in 2005.

Yuri Lyubimov, a director who dominated Russian theater for half a century, has died at 97.

His death was announced October 5 by Moscow's Botkinskaya hospital, where he was admitted last week with heart ailments.

Lyubimov founded and headed Moscow's Taganka Theater for 50 years, winning worldwide renown for his hugely visual and inventive shows, and influencing a new generation in post-Soviet Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences, saying "it was hard to overestimate the role of Yuri Lyubimov in the development of contemporary Russian theater," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered condolences "to the family and all students, to the colleagues and admirers of the master."

"It is impossible to imagine Russia's theater life without Yury Petrovich Lyubimov," he wrote in a message on his Facebook page.

Stripped Of Citizenship

Born before the 1917 revolution, Lyubimov began directing avant-garde theater productions in the 1960s.

But he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship after giving an interview to Britain's "The Times" newspaper while putting on a play in London where he spoke out against Soviet culture policies.

"Hamlet," directed by Yuri Lyubimov and performed at the Taganka Theater in 1971.

"Hamlet," directed by Yuri Lyubimov and performed at the Taganka Theater in 1971.

For half a decade Lyubimov lived in exile, putting on theater and opera productions in Europe and the United States. His name was removed from all programs and posters at the Taganka Theater.

However, with the onset of perestroika, Lyubimov returned to Moscow in triumph in 1988 and continued putting on new productions.

Lyubimov quit the Taganka Theater in 2011 after leading it for half a century, following a fall-out with the troupe which he accused of being lazy and only interested in money.

But he continued to work well into his 90s, directing his first ever production at the Bolshoi Theater in 2013.

Through his long artistic life, Lyubimov worked with some of the greatest luminaries in Soviet and Russian culture.

Among his collaborators were director Vsevolod Meyerhold who was executed in the Soviet purges, the composer Dmitry Shostakovich, writer Boris Pasternak, and the actor Vladimir Vysotsky.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS.
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