The library of the village of Muromtsevo carefully stores a fax message, which is already 20 years old. On it is a laconic and touching letter from Mikhail Ulyanov – in it he thanks his fellow countrymen for the proposal to give the institution his name.
Ulyanov was born in the village of Bergamak, Muromtsevsky District, but then his family left these places, and the artist has not been there for many years. Everything changed in the early 2000s.
According to the director of the Muromtsev inter-settlement library named after M.A. Ulyanov Yulia Astapovich, in 2001 the artist came to his small homeland – visited the house where he was born, and held meetings with fellow countrymen. He talked about his work and life, answered numerous questions from Murom residents … This acquaintance made an indelible impression on the villagers.
Photo: Andrey Kurnikov
“At that time, a new building for the library was being built in the regional center. When it was built – bright, beautiful, equipped with modern equipment, it became clear to everyone: the library should have a worthy name, and it was decided to give it the name of Mikhail Alexandrovich,” says Yulia Astapovich.
Ulyanov personally came to the opening of the library. Having visited the institution, I immediately decided to donate to him a collection of albums about art, which he had been collecting all his life – it became the main part of the future memorial hall.
So, even during the life of Ulyanov, Muromtsevo was the first to start “work” to perpetuate the memory of the artist. But years later, it turned out to be among the lagging behind. Today, the city of Tara is more associated with the name of Ulyanov than the place of his birth.
Photo: Andrey Kurnikov
Even during the life of Mikhail Alexandrovich, the Northern Drama Theater appeared in the city of Tara, now bearing the name of the artist. Ulyanov himself was initially skeptical about the idea of creating a theater in a city of 27,000, but, nevertheless, he managed to meet with a young team at the Theater. Evgeny Vakhtangov.
Tara was lucky in many ways – the house in which Ulyanov’s parents lived and where he spent his youth was preserved there. Now there is the House-Museum of Mikhail Alexandrovich. This became possible thanks to the painstaking work of many caring people and – especially – the Siberian Outback Charitable Foundation. As Pavel Isaev, chairman of the board of the foundation, noted, the “Siberian Outback” was created to solve two main issues – the creation of a monument to Ulyanov and the opening of a museum. And both questions were successfully “closed”.
The idea with the monument turned out to be truly popular thanks to the announced fundraising and attracting sponsors. Anyone could contribute, and in November 2012, the monument, the author of which was the Moscow sculptor Andrei Balashov, was solemnly opened in front of the theater building. Today the bronze monument is one of the visiting cards of the city, and Tara hosts the All-Russian theater festival “Companions” every two years.
It was not easy to resolve the issue with Ulyanov’s youth house – it belonged to private individuals. But the negotiations were successful. The building was bought out in order to transfer it to the Omsk State Museum of History and Local Lore. A branch of the institution appeared there, for the opening of which landscaping was completed on Ulyanova Street – asphalt, sidewalks and lanterns appeared in the “Ulyanovsk” quarter. Since 2020, the house-museum has been waiting for a new turn in fate – it was transferred to the management of the theater, which began to use it as an additional venue.
Omsk travel agencies periodically offer tours to Tara and Muromtsevo, which contain the “Ulyanovsk” flavor. So, guests of the northern capital of the region in such a tour will visit the House-Museum and watch the performance. At the same time, there is nothing of the kind in Omsk itself.
And this is surprising, because the theater studio at the Omsk Regional Drama Theater (now the Omsk Academic Drama Theater), where Ulyanov studied for two years, gave the artist a start in life.
According to family legend, young Misha went to the regional center with only a sack of potatoes and, according to his recollections, he himself did not really count on success. But his heartfelt reading of the monologue from “Dead Souls” liked the commission. The future master tried to combine his studies in the studio with his studies at the school of fighter pilots, but the Great Patriotic War ended – and he gave up this occupation.
All these are just some of the facts from the rich biography of Ulyanov, which could be used to “strengthen” the brand. But for now, something is stopping it. Yes, there is a monument on Lenin Street – but there are no traditional events in the city yet. At the same time, for several years now, the regional authorities have annually determined the winners of the Omsk Region Governor’s Award for the best male theatrical role – it bears the name of Mikhail Ulyanov.
Perhaps the last time the name of the legendary artist was widely discussed at the time when the process of naming the Omsk airport was underway. It is worth recalling that the names of Mikhail Ulyanov and aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev were included in the shortlist, but according to the voting results they lost to General Dmitry Karbyshev.
It remains to be hoped that now the 95th anniversary of the artist’s birth, and the possible construction of the historical and cultural complex of Mikhail Ulyanov in the same Tara, will become an occasion. The decision to create it was made back in 2018, but the pandemic has made its own adjustments…
In Moscow at the Theater. Vakhtangov, which Mikhail Ulyanov directed from 1987 to 2007, hosted a creative evening dedicated to the artist. Vakhtangovites gathered in the hall: masters who were lucky enough to work and be friends with Mikhail Alexandrovich; artists of the middle generation, whose “theatrical youth” passed during his leadership; those who first set foot on the Vakhtangov stage at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries…
They shared their memories of the legendary artist and artistic director, and the audience also saw scenes from performances, archival videos and an exhibition dedicated to Mikhail Ulyanov. The honorary guest of the evening was the daughter of Mikhail Alexandrovich – Elena Mikhailovna Ulyanova.
Prepared by Inga Bugulova