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Their family was headed by His Majesty the Theater. The soul was Natela Aleksandrovna Tovstonogova. True, this family was quite unusual. Not a family duet, but a theatrical trio: actor Yevgeny Lebedev, his wife Natela Tovstonogova and her brother, Georgy Tovstonogov.
Evgeny Lebedev was the son of a priest and enemy of the people, who was executed in 1937. Even his own younger sister Lebedev was forced to hand over to an orphanage after the execution of his parents. He said that he found her on the street, because they refused to accept the daughter of an enemy of the people, and he could not feed her.
He studied at the technical school of theatrical art (now GITIS), then at the school of the Chamber Theater, after which in 1940 he was sent to Tbilisi to the theater of young spectators. In Tbilisi at that time Georgiy Tovstonogov staged his performances at the Griboyedov Russian Theater. Also the son of an enemy of the people. A director who will become a luminary of the first magnitude in the future.
Evgeny Alekseevich, together with his wife and tiny daughter, rented a room from Tamara Grigorievna Papitashvili, mother of Georgy and Natela Tovstonogov. Georgy and Eugene became friends. Lebedev, of course, at the same time met the sister of Georgy Alexandrovich. Then she was still a schoolgirl and, of course, there could be no question of any romantic relationship.
In 1949, Lebedev left for Moscow, where he met Tovstonogov at the actor's exchange just after his appointment as chief director of Lenkom. They go to Leningrad together.
Georgy Alexandrovich by that time was left alone with two children - his wife left him and two sons, not wanting to interrupt his artistic career. The grown-up Natela began to help her brother with the children. She moved with her nephews to her brother in Leningrad.
And Lebedev began to visit the Tovstonogovs often. They were childishly helpless in everyday life, and the actor enthusiastically began to help them. Yevgeny Alekseevich could do any male work, and also amazingly managed with children: he swaddled, fed, walked. In general, he was very adapted to life, unlike his friends.
Natela Alexandrovna did not think at all about marriage with Yevgeny Alekseevich. But his support, willingness to help at any moment could not leave her indifferent. And so it happened that Lebedev soon became her husband.
Married to BDT
Soon, a son, Alexei, was born in the family, and now he and Natela were raising three boys: Alexander and Nikolai - the sons of Georgy Alexandrovich and their own Alyosha. It so happened that Lebedev and Tovstonogov received neighboring apartments. But they all needed to live together, as one big family. And they just merged their apartments by cutting through the door between them.
In the family, all conversations always came down to work. Natela Alexandrovna studied in medicine, she has no theater education. She could make a terrific critic. She believed that everyone can praise, but only she can reasonably criticize the work of her husband and brother.
While they worked in Lenkom, Natela Alexandrovna often attended rehearsals, expressed her opinion about the performances. When, in 1956, Tovstonogov was appointed chief director of the BDT, and Lebedev followed him, she began to rarely visit the theater outside of performances. Natela Alexandrovna explained this very simply: she did not want to be involved in theatrical intrigues. She tried in every possible way to avoid even a hint of what has a huge influence on her husband and brother.Through her, it was impossible to resolve any issues with the appointment, dismissal, approval for the role.
Nevertheless, the theater played a major role in her life. She provided a reliable rear for two enthusiastic people at once. She was both the soul and the heart of this amazing house. They were brilliant, all three. Great actor, great director and great woman next to them.
When Natela Alexandrovna was told about her interesting life, she only shook her head. Her life was interesting. But there was no destiny of its own. She lived by the interests of the most dear people, by her love for them, by her need. She was married to BDT.
Evgeny Alekseevich was very nervous, as his wife said about him, an actor. If he did not like the role or he considered the interpretation of the director (even the same Tovstonogov) wrong, then he could leave it. And only thanks to Natela Alexandrovna the famous Kholstomer was played.
The husband and brother appreciated her opinion, always consulted and listened to her, their muse, one for two. She was neither an actress nor a director, but the whole theatrical world knew and loved her. Her affectionate name was Dodo and only she could bring her, such different, men to a single, important decision. Her contributions to art were truly immeasurable.
Dodo outlived both of them. Georgy Aleksandrovich left in 1989, Evgeny Alekseevich in 1997 Natela Aleksandrovna left this world in 2013, carefully preserving and enhancing the creative heritage of the Lebedev-Tovstonogikhs until the end of her days.
Unlike Natela Tovstonogova, the wife of another brilliant director became practically the second person in the Taganka Theater.
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