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Nikolay Slichenko as Chango in the play “Broken Whip”. 1955 year. Archive of the Romen Theater

People’s Artist of the USSR died at the age of 87.

Nikolai Slichenko was the artistic director of the Romen Gypsy theater, actor, director and teacher. His name will remain not only in the history of Russian theater and cinema, but also in the hearts of people – loyal spectators and actors who studied with him.

“I was not afraid of the unknown”

Nikolai Alekseevich was born on December 27, 1934 in a large Gypsy family, where, besides him, four more children were raised. He was very young when the Great Patriotic War began. He said that one of the most terrible childhood memories is the death of his father, he was shot in front of his family.

After the war, the family moved to the Voronezh region. Even then, the boy began to show the ability to sing and dance. As time went. “Talent”, – did not cease to repeat admiringly relatives and friends. Having learned that in Moscow there is “Romen” – the world’s only professional gypsy theater, the family decided that the boy must certainly be there. At the age of 16, Nikolai set out to conquer a big city.

“Received the blessing of my mother and grandfather – and hit the road. I went with thoughts only of the theater. I didn’t think about where I would live, how the capital would meet me, I wasn’t afraid of the unknown, ”he wrote later in his book“ I was born in the camp ”.

Completed stages, new peaks

At first, they did not want to hire the young man to “Romen”, he did not impress the commission. Slichenko was about to go back, but Sergei Shishkov asked him to stay. One of the most prominent artists of the troupe insisted that Slichenko be accepted, – Shishkov was mesmerized by the timbre of his voice.

He was given small, insignificant roles, but he did not despair, considering that being in this theater in itself was an excellent school. He taught the lyrics of other actors playing the main roles, adopted their manner of behaving on stage.

The first big role he was entrusted with a year later in the play “Four suitors”. It was not without Sergey Shishkov, his kind patron, who agreed to tell the management that he suddenly fell ill so that Slichenko, who had known the words by heart for a long time, could show himself. Their little adventure was a success: that evening, Nikolai, who brilliantly coped with the role of Leksa, was applauded by the whole audience.

Now there was no shortage of interesting roles. Slichenko played Marko in Daughter of Tents, Chango in Broken Whip, Vasil in Gypsy Aza, and participated in many other productions.

Singer and director

It was not enough for Nikolai Slichenko just to play – he wanted to comprehend the very basics of the chosen profession. Therefore, he soon applied to GITIS for the directing department. It was difficult to combine work and study, but the young man coped with it. He received the long-awaited diploma in 1972, his thesis – “Grushenka” based on the story “The Enchanted Wanderer” by Nikolai Leskov.

At the Romen Theater, he staged the performances We Are Gypsies, The Gypsy Countess, Nepoklonov, Fiery Horses and many others. He often included songs and dances in his productions. He also tried himself in the cinema: he can be seen in the films “Oleko Dundich”, “Difficult Happiness”. In 1967, the screens out the picture “Wedding in Malinovka”, where Slichenko played Peter Bessarabets. This work made him a star nationwide.

Nikolai Alekseevich also sang gypsy songs from the stage, many of which he knew from childhood. The audience was very fond of his concerts.

People’s Artist of the USSR

In 1977 Nikolai Slichenko became the artistic director and chief director of the theater. A year later, a studio was opened at the Gnessin School of Music, where the artists were trained specially at Romen. Slichenko became a teacher there. And later, already in 2005, he contributed to the opening of the Gypsy national course at the Shchukin Theater Institute.

In 1981, he was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR, but this is far from his only award. In total, he received more than 20 of them, among them the Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation for the play “We are Gypsies”, the Order of Friendship of Peoples, the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, IV degree.

Nikolai Alekseevich died on July 2, he died in Moscow at the age of 86. As long as his health allowed, he continued to stage performances and perform on stage.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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