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Natalya Sats
Birth: Aug. 27, 1903
Death: Dec. 18, 1993

Stage Producer, Director. She pioneered children's theatre in Russia and made it her passion for over 70 years. To her we owe the creation of Sergei Prokofiev's beloved musical fairy tale "Peter and the Wolf" (1936). Sats was born in Irkutsk, Siberia, where her father, composer Ilya Sats, was serving three years as a political exile. The family settled in Moscow in 1904. The elder Sats was music director of the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT) and he passed his love of the stage to his daughter. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, when Commissar of Education Anatol Lunacharsky proposed bringing theatre to children, MAT director Konstantin Stanislavsky recommended the 15 year-old Natalya to organize it. Her Mossovet Theatre Troupe staged its first performance for kids, "David", in 1918, and successfully toured Petrograd, Saratov, and Moscow. The following year it was sponsored as the First State Children's Theatre (later the Central Children's Theatre) in Moscow and set up in an abandoned movie house. As producer-director, Sats's aim was to stimulate children's imaginations with new works and present the classics (including opera and ballet) in a manner accessible to young people. Her productions were multimedia extravaganzas, employing music, dance, dazzling set and costume design, film, and projected slides for constant interest. Her actors were schooled in the Stanislavsky method and she made it a rule to never condescend to her young audience. By 1931 Sats was internationally recognized and conductor Otto Klemperer invited her to stage two of his opera productions, Verdi's "Falstaff" in Berlin and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" in Buenos Aires. Another of her fans was Prokofiev, who frequented her theatre with his wife and two sons. Although he had an intimidating personality, Sats deduced his soft spot for children and commissioned him to compose what emerged as "Peter and the Wolf" in February 1936. In preliminary discussions they agreed the piece would involve animals and a small boy, each character would have its own theme personified by a different instrument of the orchestra, and that the story would be spoken by a narrator rather than sung. "The most important thing is to find a common language with the kids", Prokofiev told her. But when she came up with a scenario written in rhymed verse it was furiously rejected by the prickly composer. In the end he wrote his own story in simple prose. Sats fell ill and did not perform at the premiere of "Peter and the Wolf" on May 2, 1936, which Prokofiev described as "inauspicious at best"; but the second performance a few weeks later, with Sats narrating, was a triumph. Its fame quickly spread beyond the USSR and it would become one of the most popular works of 20th Century classical music. Many years would pass before Sats was able to savor this. Stalin's bloody political purges had begun, and the director's insistence on keeping her work as apolitical as possible rankled some in the Politburo. The novelty and high reputation of her children's theatre attracted many foreign visitors, and this also made her suspect to the increasingly xenophobic regime. When the American Ambassador attended one of her shows in 1937, Sats was arrested by the secret police for espionage and taken to the dreaded Lubyanka Prison. Her refusal to sign a false confession probably saved her life. She spent five years in a Siberian labor camp and was then forced to live in the region as an "undesirable". Even so she continued to put on entertainment for children, reverting to the hardscrabble methods of her Mossovet trouping days. She was cleared of all charges after Stalin's death. Returning to Moscow in 1958, Sats went straight to the Kremlin and demanded she be given another theatre, with many of the Soviet Union's leading cultural figures voicing their support. It took seven years, but the Moscow State Children's Music Theatre finally debuted in 1965 and Sats would guide it for the rest of her life. A lavish new venue designed especially for the company opened in 1979. For her contributions to Soviet culture she was named People's Artist of the USSR (1975) and a Hero of Socialist Labor (1983). As for "Peter and the Wolf", it has been recorded over 400 times in a dozen languages and is still used as an educational tool. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1986, Sats took the piece on an international tour and performed it in German, Italian, French, and English. Today the renamed Natalya Sats Musical Theatre continues the traditions and high standards she practiced throughout her long career. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
Novodevichy Cemetery
Moscow Federal City, Russia
Plot: Section 2, Row 15
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Apr 14, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35872682
Natalya Sats
Added by: Bobb Edwards
Natalya Sats
Added by: julia&keld
Natalya Sats
Added by: julia&keld
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