100 YEARS AGO IN MUSICAL AMERICA (294)

July 26, 1919
Page 23
Flees from Russian Bolshevism to Resume Her Musical Career

Lydia Lipkovska Has Thrilling Escape from Petrograd, Moscow and Odessa—Loses Part of Her Fortune During Enforced Sojourn of Three Years in the Russian Domain
Milan, June 21, 1919.

FORthree long years the charming Russian prima donna, Lydia Lipkovska, well-remembered from her former operatic activity in the United States, was exiled in another world, as she says, and compelled to live where human life was but cheaply valued. Retreating before the onrushing wave of Russian Bolshevism, Mme. Lipkovska, like so many others, escaped from Petrograd and sought refuge in Moscow, until that hereditary stronghold of the Muscovites was also swept into the revolutionary conflagration. Ever southward the prima donna traveled until eventually she found what promised to be a permanent haven in Odessa, on the Black Sea. Here up to two months ago she made her home; now she has reached Milan.
We met Mme. Lipkovska in the lounge of the Hotel Milano a day or two after her arrival here, and found her as attractive and youthful as ever. When asked to recount some of her experiences before and during her escape from Odessa, Mme. Lipkovska declared:
“It still seems like a horrible dream to me. 1 can scarcely believe that I am really back again in Western Europe. Everyone was compelled to help the state, of course, which, in Odessa, at least, is decidedly not of the Bolshevik régime. However, whether it was enforced or voluntary help, the mere fact of aiding the non-Bolshevist state of Odessa was sure to cost one dearly, the moment the Bolsheviki gained control of the Odessa district. And these elements were making inroads and gaining possession of the outlying communities when I fled from Odessa a little over two months ago.
The singer was asked if she had lost her belongings during her escape from Petrograd and Moscow or later.
“Jewels and personal valuables I managed to rescue,” she said. “Moneys, however, amounting to several hundred thousand rubles, I lost, irretrievably, I am afraid. What would you have?” with a fatalistic shrug of the shoulder. “One naturally had one’s money in the bank and the banks were very thoroughly looted by the so-called upholders of the independence of the people. You know how in the Bolshevist districts of Russia, such as Petrograd, artists were compelled, under every conceivable penalty, to enlist their services for the entertainment of the people. They were paid, of course. But·of what avail are thousands of rubles when a loaf of very poor bread alone cost several hundred rubles, providing it was obtainable at any price.”
“Did you continue to make· public appearances during all the· excitement in Odessa?”
Sang for Charity
“Oh, yes,” replied Mme. Lipkovska, “on several occasions I sang for charity both in opera and concert.”
“In opera?” we questioned with mild surprise. “Did operatic performances continue in all this revolutionary turmoil?”
“Why, of course,” the singer answered. “Opera performances were the order of the day, though now and then subject to interruptions, to be sure.”
“And who arranged the performances?”
“Why, an impresario who was given the use of the theater and magnanimously subsidized by the state—always the non-Bolshevist state, you must remember. The usual standard operas were sung, such as Puccini’s ‘Tosca,’ ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Bohème,’ Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’ and ‘Lohengrin,’ and the more modern Russian operas.”
“Do you think Russia will get on her feet again?” we questioned.
“It will take time, but, eventually, yes,” the artist replied. “I am certain that from one to two years after normal conditions have been restored in the rest of Europe, Russia will rise out of all this chaos stronger and more promising than ever before. The people to-day merely require to be led by strong men and a strong government.”
Escaping to Constantinople
Referring again to her escape from ·Russia, Mme. Lipkovska said: “When it was decided that I was to make the attempt to get to Western Europe, my friends and a number of officials planned a method that promised success. In the dead of night, well-cloaked and veiled, I left my house unostentatiously, escorted by Russian officers of the ancien régime. Arrangements had been made with the captain·of a very small and primitive steamer about to sail for Constantinople. The military guard was for the purpose of protecting me in case I should be waylaid. For in these days residents are watched in Odessa day and night. The greatest secrecy was required in boarding the steamer anchored some distance out from the harbor. Every moment of that nocturnal departure was full of suspense, I assure you. And then, after I had gratefully taken leave of my protectors, there began a sea-voyage that had nothing in common with the conveniences of modern travel. It seemed as though the fragile little steamer would never make its port. But all things come to an end sometime or other. And so we eventually entered the sea of Marmora.
“Disembarking at Constantinople seemed wonderful. I could have cried with joy just to be back in Europe proper once more. Constantinople probably never was, nor is to-day, truly representative of European culture. But to me it seemed like entering heaven. For here there were no disturbances, no disordered economic conditions; everything was progressing in a peaceful manner, so that once again I was able to enjoy that comfort which during the last few years one had to forego to such a great extent in Russia. I lost no time in getting farther west and so, the day before yesterday, arrived here in Milan, where everyone says the effects of the war are still noticeable, but which to me seems a paradise.”
Mme. Lipkovska was elegantly dressed and bore no signs of having come out of such a political chaos. Woman-like, however, she insisted that it was needful for her to go to Paris the next day “to get some clothes.” After these sartorial necessities have been attended to in Paris, she expects to go to London, where she will probably make her first reappearance before the public. She also has American aspirations, she confessed, and expects to go to the United States very soon. —O. P. JACOB.
 

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