Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Riva Antsipovitsh


Born on 6 June 1870 in the village Zhuki, Minsk Gubernia, White Russia. Father -- a tanner, who also maintained an inn. Her father passed away when she was barely half a year old, and her mother was left with nine small children. Thus the landowner had them cast from the village, and they settled then in Mozyr, where the mother opened a store and the family endured in great need. A. learned with a melamed, who used to come to them in their home. No other possibilities  to learn existed. In 1882 relatives had taken the entire family over to Kiev, and there A. began to work with an artisan.

At that time Avraham Fishzon arrived in Kiev seeking "young girls with voices", and A. who had possessed a magnificent, lyrical soprano [voice], went to him at the age of twelve, recommended. With the knowledge of her mother, she went with his troupe to Konotop, where she debuted as "Mirele" in "Di kishufmakherin (The Sorceress)", and in other prima donna roles form Goldfaden's repertoire.

According to Mark Leyptsiker, who recorded her biography in her name, there would be specially sewn clothes made for her, so that she would survive any further growth. She acted for four years acting with Fishzon, until 1886 when she went over with Shomer in a troupe to Pinsk. [Chiene Braginska, Fishzon's widow, recounts that A. had a beautiful voice, that she was taken into the chorus, where she was for five years, and also received small roles.

Shomer had her taken to Rovno. She was with him for a short time and returned to Fishzon's troupe, and as such Braginska had at that time lost her voice, and she became a prima donna].

Being several seasons with Shomer, she had returned again to Fishzon in his troupe in Berdichev, as she was introduced to a rich merchant Max Zeygermakher, who had returned from America and married him, and in order that she could remain with the theatre, he became a cashier with Fishzon, but she alone went over from one troupe to another: Fishzon, Shomer, Naftali Goldfaden, Lazar Bernstein, Kompaneyets, Krause, Zandberg et al.

Mark Leyptsiker writes:

"Thanks to her wanderings across the cities and towns of the whole of Russia, she became very popular and famous for her beauty and as a singer. She was accustomed to having great success and had acquired a name. Being that thanks to her one could do good business, Fishzon had invited her to the theatre as a partner. Thanks to her energy, she often used to receive permission to act in theatre in such places across Russia, where there stood a strong union of Yiddish theatre. In time A. became a partner with Kompaneyets in a theatre, acted in Warsaw, in the "Eldorado" Theatre.

She also traveled across the crown of Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Siberia, Courland et al."

According to Chiene Braginska, A.'s husband, the merchant Max Zeygermakher, had her try to get her get her away from the theatre, she had been given in marriage to him... had with the Yiddish theatre director Lazer Bernstein, had in the meantime directed with a Russian chorus in Shantan(en), and then returned as a prima donna with Fishzon in a troupe.

In 1910 A. acted as a prima donna on the Ukrainian stage in the troupe of Kopilov in Mikhalenko, and directed with "a Vienna orchestra"  (Balaleykes), sang Russian novels in concerts. When the First World War broke out, A. acted in the troupe of GuzikYiddish plays in Russian, after the February Revolution, she had in the same troupe acted in Yiddish. After the October Revolution, he settled in Kiev, where she participated in the Yiddish troupes which performed there, then in episodic roles in Kiev's "Kunst vinkl (Artist corner)". From 1929, she went onto a pension from the state, and at the same time often participated in "Afkina" films. A. also had in Warsaw and in Vilna sang on a gramophone.

Further information about her fate is unknown.

Sh. E. from Mark Leyptsiker and M. E. from Chiene Braginska.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 4881.

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