Soviet Latvian actress Vija Artmane 1929-2008
Soviet Latvian actress Vija Artmane has become the real star of the All-Union scale after the film “Native Blood” in which she starred with Evgeny Matveyev. This melodrama has been a favorite film of all the peoples of the USSR. The main character played by Artmane – Sonya, the mother of several children – feminine, sincere, reliable and beautiful. Rumors of a romance between Artmane and her partner Evgeny Matveyev spread throughout the Soviet Union after the release of the film – so sincerely they played love. Rumors immediately “married” them, although Matveyev at that time had a strong family. Soon Artmane gave birth to a daughter, Christiana. In his interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda (21.08.2009) the son of the actress said: “Before she died, my mother confessed that the father of my sister Christiana – Evgeny Matveyev.” Before dying, she accepted Orthodoxy, changed her name Vija to Elizaveta. In her own words, Artmane painfully experienced the gap between Latvia and Russia. After the collapse of the USSR Via Artmane was persecuted in nationalist Latvia. “Latvia is small for me, I do not have enough space, I’m not used to live so narrowly. From communicating with Russians I have changed. Russians have an open soul, a unique perception of the person. Latvians are others. Russians are very close to me, a few years ago, I even accepted Orthodoxy”.
She was not born a queen, but became one on the stage and screen. The last ten years of her life – Juliet, Ophelia, Queen of England, Elizabeth and Catherine II in one person was forced to lead a life on the brink of poverty. After taking in 1990 the law on restitution her apartment in the center of Riga was confiscated. All that before the arrival of Soviet power belonged to the bourgeoisie, Latvia has returned to former owners. One of the most popular actresses of Soviet cinema had to move to the cottage, in a modest house in the suburbs of the Latvian capital.
After serving 55 years in the theater, she did not want to be on the sidelines and left on her own. Sooner than she was asked about it. By the time Artmane suffered three strokes.
Soviet Latvian actress Vija Artmane was born August 21, 1929 in Latvia, in a village near Tukums. Her mother Anna Zaborskaya – Polish, father Fricis Artmans – Baltic German. Her real name – Alida. Vija’s mother was born in a very poor family. In order to survive, she worked as a maid in a wealthy house of a baron. The girl was very beautiful, and Fricis, the son of one of the wealthier villagers fell in love with. He persuaded Anna to marry him and the wedding took place. But the happiness was short. Lifting alone the heavy shed near the well, Fricis ruptured himself and died at the age of 19 after a few days. This happened four months before the birth of his daughter.
Parents of Fricis kicked Anna out with her baby Vija. The woman, had to work hard, in order to feed herself and her daughter. A few years later she got married again, but the new husband turned out to be rough and drinking man. After living with him for several months, Alida’s mother had to leave him. Aged ten, Vija began working as a shepherd at wealthy farmers’. For five years her best friends had been cows, and her favorite toys – wild flowers.
As a schoolgirl Alida wanted to become a lawyer: “To punish evil people and justify the good.” But even more she was fascinated with the world of cinema and theater – there were magic, beauty, justice triumphed. Despite the fact that the mother was against it, Alida entered the drama studio at the Moscow Art Academic Theater of Rainis. There she changed her name to something more sonorous – Vija.
In 1949, she graduated from the studio and was accepted into the troupe of the Moscow Art Academic Theater of Rainis (1989 Daile Theatre).
At the beginning of acting career she has proved herself as an actress of the classical repertoire. She played Juliet (“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, 1953), Elizabeth (“Elizabeth of England” F. Bruckner, 1980), and etc. Created the image of lyrical, full of inner purity and strength in the plays of Latvian playwrights. But Vija really wanted to play the role of modern women with these dramatic experiences, disappointments and ups. She was lucky in the movies …
Artmane debuted in 1956 in the movie “After the storm”, and then was the film, that brought the actress real fame throughout the USSR – “Native Blood” in which she starred with Evgeny Matveyev. Then she had a role in a landmark film for the Lithuanian cinema – “Nobody Wanted to Die” (1966). In 1966, another success – love drama “Edgar and Christina.” These works made Artmane favorite actress of millions of people. In Soviet times, in her homeland, the People’s Artist of the USSR Vija Artmane was called a proud name “Mother Latvia”.
One of the most prominent roles – Julia in love TV drama “Theatre” (1978). Vija Artmane: “Julia is close to all. Every man would like to have such ind of woman. Although she is wretch, but wretch is charming. She is attractive because honest. God, grant every woman to be so honest. ”
Unfortunately, in contrast to the theatrical, home life of Artmane was not happy. As the actress herself wrote: “My husband – we worked with him in a theater – was very jealous because he was very sinful, among other things. I was many years younger than him. He was not about what I wanted…. and whom I would like to be close, but completely happy, I myself have never felt. Maybe because I’ve never had a good female happiness. I can say this quite frankly.”
Soviet Latvian actress Vija Artmane
Son of Artmane is a song writer, to his authorship belongs the libretto for the rock opera “Notre Dame”. Daughter Christiana – the artist. In 1979 was published a book “Vija Artmane” in the publishing house “Liesma” in Riga, devoted to creativity of outstanding actress; in 1990 in Moscow – a book of memoirs of the actress “Heart on the palm”, published by “Young Guard”, and in 2003 in Riga – memoirs of actress “Winter-hardy. The moments of my life.”
Via Artmane passed away October 11, 2008 in the city of Strenči, Valka district, Latvia.
Newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” 21 August, 2009