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Simon Virsaladze (Set Designer)

Simon Virsaladze
Born in Tbilisi, 31 Dec. 1908 (13 Jan. 1909).
Virsaladze studied at the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi in 1926-1927 (teacher - I. Sharleman), the All-Union Technical Arts Institute (VHUTEIN) in Moscow in 1928-1930 (teachers - I. Rabinovich and P. Konchalovsky), and Academy of Arts in Leningrad in 1930-31 (teacher - M. Bobyshov).
He began his career as a designer at the Theatre of Working Youth in Tbilisi in 1927 keeping to the style of constructivism, very popular then.
He soon became chief designer of the Paliashvili Theatre for Opera and Ballet in 1932-1936. Here, in that period and later, he designed G. Rossini's "William Tell" (1931), Z. Paliashvili's "Daisi" (1936), A. Balanchivadze's "The Heart of the Hills" (1936), "Chopiniana" to F. Chopin's music, A. Adan's "Giselle" (1942), L. Minkus' "Don Quixote" (1943), A. Machavariani's "Othello" (1957).
As his stage settings received critical acclaim, Virsaladze became a designer at the prestigious Kirov Ballet in Leningrad in 1937 and chief designer in 1945-62.
It was here that he designed the ballets "The Heart of the Hills" (1938), A.Crein's "Laurensia" (1939), A.Glazunov's "Raymonda"(1948), P. Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" (1950), "Sleeping Beauty" (1952), "Nutcracker"; and the operas: R. Wagner's "Lohengrin" (1941, 1962), D. Kabalevsky's "The Taras Family" (1950), W.A. Mozart's "Don Juan" (1956), G. Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" (1958).
Over the next two decades, he designed theatrical productions for the Leningrad Maly Theatre Ballet: "Ashik-Kerib" (1940), "Sheherezada" (1950), "Seven Beauties" (1953), A. Adan's "Le Corsaire" (1955). He also designed for the Leningrad Choreography College (today - the Vaganova Ballet Academy), Baku and Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Houses.
It was at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad that he started working with the famous ballet director Yuri Grigorovich (the choreographer many times referred to Simon Virsaladze as to his co-author). A man of enormous talent, culture, and erudition, S. Virsaladze created stage productions and costumes of astounding beauty and a subtle juxtaposition of colors. His works greatly influenced the subsequent development of the Soviet ballet.
The first Grigorovich-Virsaladze performances were S. Prokofiev's "Stone Flower" (1957) and A. Melikov's "Legend of Love" (1961)
In 1964, Virsaladze became the chief designer of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and his cooperation with Grigorovich continued. "Stone Flower" (1959) and "Legend of Love" appeared on the Bolshoi Theatre stage.
Also, new stage productions were created:
P. Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" (1963, 1973)
"Nutcracker" (1966)
A. Khachaturyan's "Spartacus"(1968)
"Swan Lake" (1969)
"Ivan the Terrible" to S. Prokofiev's music (1975)
A. Eshpai's "Angara" (1976)
S. Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" (1979)
D. Shostakovich's "The Age of Gold" (1982)
"Raymonda" (1984)
Yuri Grigorovich's ballets designed by Simon Virsaladze were staged abroad many times.
In addition to Grigorovich's performances, Virsaladze designed for two stage productions in the Bolshoi Theatre: "Swan Lake" (1956) and the ballet "Mozart and Salieri" to W.A. Mozart's and A. Salieri's music.
He cooperated with choreographers V. Chabukiani, K. Sergeev, V. Vaionen, P. Gusev and others.
Virsaladze's costumes transformed Georgian folk dancing as well.
He also designed for films: G. Kozintsev's "Hamlet" (1964) and "King Lear" (1971)
1949 -Stalin Prize (State USSR) for the ballet "Raymonda" in the Leningrad Kirov Opera and Ballet House
1951 - Stalin Prize for the opera "The Taras Family"
1970 - the Lenin Prize for the ballet "Spartacus" in the Bolshoi Theatre
1975 - member of the USSR Academy of Arts
1976 - title People's Artist of the USSR
1977 - State USSR Prize for the ballet "Angara" in the Bolshoi Theatre
Died in Tbilisi, 7 Feb. 1989.

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