Yelena Andreianova (1819 - 1857)
Politics and the casting couch is nothing new, Yelena Andreianova was the lover and mistress of Alexander Guedenov, the director of the Imperial Theatres. Yelena graduated from the Imperial Theatre School in 1837 and became the ballerina of the Maryinsky Ballet. Her political power in the company was uncontested because of her relationship with the director. Unfortunately with the visiting ballerinas from France caused her to lose many of her roles. She had been the first Russian ballerina to perform Giselle in Russia. Yelena had to watch from the wings while Marie Taglioni and Fanny Elssler took St. Petersburg by storm.
To placate his lover and to avoid a major explosion, Guedenov sent Yelena to be ballerina of Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. On her opening night the audiences resented Yelena, from invading St. Petersburg's ballerina, and instead of throwing flower on the stage they threw a dead cat. Shocked and appalled the ballerina fainted. The audience felt what they had done was over the edge and repented and gave her a standing ovation. She remained their ballerina for fifteen years.
Yelena went on tour of the Western World with great success, but on her returned she found Guedenov had found a new lover. Broken hearted and unable to face her fans at the Maryinsky she left Russia and settled in Paris where she died four years later. Loyalty in the theater is seldom lasting.
Next: Helene Antonova (1898-1974)