Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Mathilda St. Claire


Born in Lodz, Poland. Father -- a manufacturer. She received an assimilated education. She learned in a Russian gymnasium in Warsaw and then, due to her father's businesses in Leipzig. Here she also learned in a dance school, and then in Warsaw she learned singing with Professor Lipianski.

Debuting in Leipzig on the German stage, she then acted in Polish theatre in Lodz Warsaw. Later in Kiev's municipal theatre in Russian and from here she went to Berlin, where she acted in German in "Goyes Operetta House". Returning to Warsaw, she entered into the Elizeum Theatre, and debuted here in Yiddish in Almuni's [I. L. Vohlman] operetta "Der shtroyener almn", later in other European operettas.

From here she went further to Western Europe, where she acted in those theatres, until Joseph Rumshinsky, who was in Europe and engaged her in 1921 for the Second Avenue Theatre in New York, where she debuted on 15 September 1921 in the operetta "Di rusishe printsesin" [later called "Di lustike rusishe printsesin" -- a free adaptation of the German operetta "Di tolle komtese" (director -- S. Rozenstein, music -- J. Rumshinksy]. Performing for the troupe, she broke into in a short time, she acted on the Yiddish stage and at first on 30 March 1923 she began to guest-star in the Lenox Theatre in the operetta "Di geferlekhe moyd" (music -- Peretz Sandler). On 13 April 1923 she acted here in Lilian's play "A kallah on a khasun" and on 31 October 1924 -- in Lilian's "Sadie vu krikhstu?" (music -- A. Olshanetsky).

On 21 November 1924 -- L. Freiman's "Di vilde libe", on 30 December (with Nathan Goldberg) -- "Mary" in Sholem Asch's "Motke the Thief"; on 6 February 1925 -- in William Siegel's "Der tsigeyner prints" and later "Flora" in Lillian's "Der rabbi hot geheysn freylekh zeyn".

Then S. retired from the Yiddish stage.

M. Osherowitz writes about S.'s acting in New York: "In this time [1921-22 season] Muni Weisenfreund was engaged in the Second Avenue Theatre, where they had performed operettas of no superior fashion. The main attraction in that theater then was Mathilda St. Claire, who they had brought down from Polish with great pomp and which had later just not been exceptionally strong. The first play  -- "Di rusishe printsesin" -- in which she performed, quickly fell apart. And the critics, who had written about the new actress with no small disappointment, were to her just complaints, because she permitted herself to sing somewhat a vulgar song "Ikh reyb"."

  • M. Osherowitz -- Matilda san-kleir, di naye idishe primadona, "Forward", N. Y, 19 August 1921.

  • Ben Yakov -- Matilde seint kleir in lenoks teater, "Frayhayt", N. Y., 7 Novembe 1924.

  • M. Osherowitz -- "David kesler un muni veyzenfreynd", N. Y., 1930, pp. 208-209.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1444.

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