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Chinese odyssey of a stage designer

May 13, 2017

Today, on 13 May we celebrate 130 years of an artist Makariy Domrachev (1887 - 1958). After finishing the the World of Art school of Benoit, Rerikh and Dobujinsky, Makariy Fedorovich Domrachev entered the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet theatre in 1945 and has been working there since 1947 till 1952 as the main stage designer.

Though he was not an actual outcast, but 20 years abroad had darkened his biography noted Pavel Muratov, one of the most competent Siberian art experts.

Twenty years of Makariys life were spent in Manchuria and China. He landed there in 1924, after setting off touring to Harbin together with his wife, having no idea of becoming a Soviet citizen with a foreign passport for a long time. At the local Opera theatre he had staged thirty four performances, gone touring across Japan, had visited India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and insular China. Later on he moved to Shanghai, where he worked at the New Lyceum theatre and with the ensemble Le Ballet Russe till the end of the Second World War.

However, he gained his recognition as an artist before he went to China he was good friends with the coryphées Georg Vereyskiy, Vladimir Milashevskiy, and Anna, Helena and Nadejda Benoit. As a disciple of New Artistic Studio, directed by Mstislav Dobujinskiy, one of the most important members of the World of Art union, Makariys theatre works were displayed at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris (1925) and at the Anniversary Exhibition of the Theatre and Decorative Arts of the USSR in Leningrad (1927).

In 1945, after returning to USSR, Makariy Domrachev was assigned to Novosibirsk, where he employed by the Opera and Ballet theatre. As a stage designer he produced more than 25 performances, such as "La Traviata", "Rigoletto", "Il barbiere di Siviglia", "Le Corsaire", "Faust" by Gounod, "Mermaid" by Dargomyzhsky, "Aida", "The Great Friendship" by Muradeli, "Demon" by Rubinstein, "Mazeppa" by Tchaikovsky, "Carmen" by Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Snow Maiden", Gliere's "Red Poppy", Smetana's "the Bartered Bride", "Lakmé" by Delibes. Despite the lack of resources in the after-war period, the specialists admit that his costumes and settings were always fine. Until his return to Leningrad in 1955, he used to work as a stage designer for the Red Torch theatre, for the Youth Theatre and also his works for the regional displays.

Before moving to the northern capital, Makariy Domrachev took part in the architecture competition for the Pantheon Eternal Glory Memorial for the Soviet soldiers of the Second World War. The works of this artist are currently displayed at the Theatre and Musical Arts museum in St. Petersburg; in 1982 his relatives moved the artists collection to the Central State Archive of Literature and Art in St. Petersburg, where the Domrachev foundation was established. Till the end of his life, Makariy has been working on his book Notes on Chinese architecture; he was very interested in traditional art of the Celestial Kingdom and filled his book with a lot of images.