Russian Personalities

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Varvara Asenkova, one of the best travesty performers

Portrait of Asenkova by Hau Edward Petrovich

Portrait of Asenkova by Hau Edward Petrovich

Varvara Asenkova (April 10, 1817, in St. Petersburg – April 19, 1841) was a Russian actress, who acted in the Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg (1835-1841). She performed in vaudeville, comedies, melodrama, dramas and tragedy.
Asenkova was one of the best travesty performers. She played the roles of young men and girls disguised in men’s clothing (for example cadet Lelev and Gabrielle).
The image of Asenkova is frequently reflected in literature, particularly in N. A. Nekrasov’s lyrics.
Asenkova’s roles included Maria Antonovna in Gogol’s The Inspector General, Sofia and Natalia Dmitrievna in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit, Natasha the miller’s daughter in Alexander Pushkin’s Rusalka, Ophelia and Cordelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear, and Esmeralda in the dramatization of Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris.

At Alexandrinsky Theatre Asenkova had been performing for six years. She had poor health, and had to play almost the whole repertoire of vaudeville theater. All this provoked her illness. The last time she came on the scene on February 16, 1841. On April 19 (May 1), 1841 she died because of tuberculosis.
In 1936 or according to other sources, in 1938, her grave monument was moved to the Necropolis of Artists of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
In 1941, a hundred years after the death of actress, (or in 1943) German shell fell just in her grave, leaving only fragments of the monument and a deep hole… Monument was restored in 1955.
The film Green Coach tells us about the actress’s short and tragic life, the role of Varvara was played by Natalia Tenyakova.
Varvara Asenkova by Alekseev

Varvara Asenkova by Alekseev

Asenkova Varvara actress

Varvara – Aleksandrinskiy Theater actress