Karpovka


The Barracks of the Grenadier Regiment

House of Anastasia Vialtseva,
22 Karpovka Embankment

House at Karpovka 22 across the river belonged to the famous actress and singer Anastasia Vialtseva (1871-1913). Vialtseva embodied the tradition of the Russian Gypsy song (romans) at its best, most sensual expressive. Among the fans of Vialtseva's art we can name a celebrated theatre director V. Nemirovich-Danchenko, writers Skitalets (The Wanderer) and writer-journalist N. Teleshov. A popular journalist of that time writing under the pseudonym Homo Novus described Vialtseva: "she poignantly pale, fragile, with the mysterious and charming smile …she was a symbol of things decadent… Her charms, her smiles, her sickly pale face – all this evoked the life of our city with its unhealthy air, smoke of the factories and stink of petroleum."

In a word: Vialtseva was a real star of Petersburg modernity, a diva of her epoch – her success was comparable to that of the most serious dramatic actresses (by the way, she was a friend of Maria Savina) and of the film divas like Vera Kholodnaia. On the other hand, her career had a scandalous shade: Vialtseva's daring choice of love songs (her emblem song was called "I will love – if I decide to!") made her name a synonym for the decadent popular art. The leading Russian art critic V. Stasov memorably called Vialtseva "an indignant whore" in his letter to composer A. Liadov. The audience, however, was more forgiving. Huge honorariums allowed Vialtseva to buy, among other things, the house on the banks of Karpovka, where she established a restaurant and a casino Monte Carlo, that according to some rumours, also housed a luxurious brothel frequented by the representatives of the new bourgeoisie and aristocracy alike.

 

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