On October 12th, Google created a doodle in honor of Helena Modrzejewska (Modjeska), a well-known Polish actress best recognized for her Shakespearean roles.
This doodle, better known by her stage name “Madame Modjeska,” was exclusively accessible to Google users in Poland or the United States.
The question is, who is this mysterious Polish woman, and why did he obtain a Google doodle in only those two countries?
The story of Modjeska’s life is as enthralling as the plays Helena Modrzejewska used to perform, and some believe she has never stopped acting.
Others consider her to be the first female celebrity in American history.
Helena Modrzejewska. The brightest theater star
Helena Modjeska (or rather: Modrzejewska), the brightest theater star, became a theater legend throughout her lifetime.
Modrzejewska Helena was a well-known actress and Polish nationalist, and her talent was much praised.
Jadwiga Helena Mise, born on October 12, 1840 in Krakow, was the illegitimate daughter of wealthy widow Józefa Benda.
Helena Modrzejewska desired to be an actress since she was a child and joined touring troupes at a young age, taking the stage name “Modrzejewska” at the start of her career.
Helena Modrzejewska later performed on regional stages in Bochnia, Stanisawów, Przemyl, Brzeany, and Nowy Scz.
Gustaw Zimajer, an actor and director of several minor Galician theaters, saw her ability and became her patron, helping her to enhance her acting talents.
Helena Modrzejewska herself worked hard and consistently on her voice and diction. The two actors eventually became close, which resulted in the birth of Rudolf Modrzejewski in 1861. He would go on to become a famous engineer, a railroad and bridge builder in Poland and the United States, and a pioneer in the construction of suspension bridges. Helena married wealthy landowner Karol Chapowski after their romance terminated for mysterious reasons. Helena Modrzejewska did not abandon her profession, contrary to popular belief at the time.
The initial performances of Modrzejewska received mixed reviews. This, however, did not deter her; on the contrary, her enthusiasm and perseverance quickly propelled her to the top. She began performing in Lwów in 1862, which drew the notice of observers.
Helena Modrzejewska was not being offered main jobs at the moment, so she opted to go elsewhere.
Helena Modrzejewska began performing in Krakow and subsequently Warsaw in the mid-1860s.
Helena Modrzejewska rose to the level of a true celebrity in Zachta, where her portrait was displayed as Ophelia from “Hamlet,” and photographs of her were sold in stores.
Helena Modrzejewska refused to perform on the Russian and German stages for patriotic reasons.
Nonetheless, even though she had enough money to live well, it was insufficient for her.
In 1876, she took a risk and traveled to North America with a group of Poles with the intention of establishing a colony.
Amongst them is Henryk Sienkiewicz, the great writer and subsequently Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, who went there as a correspondent for “Gazeta Polska.” The colonists returned to their homes after the construction and development of a farm in Anaheim, California, failed. Modrzejewska, who had rigorously studied English, wanted to stay in the United States. Soon after, she began appearing on American and English theatres, taking on Shakespearean roles, which became her specialty. Helena Modrzejewska assumed the pseudonym “Modjeska,” by which she is now known in the Anglo-Saxon world, to make pronunciation easier for the local audience.
Helena Modrzejewska amassed enormous popularity, which she frequently exploited to promote the Polish cause overseas. When traveling by train across America, she frequently chose a wagon labeled “Poland.”
However, America was simply a layover on her journey to London.
Helena Modrzejewska’s true ambition was to play the greatest roles in Shakespeare’s plays in his motherland, which she would also achieve.
Helena Modrzejewska drew the attention of society as a frequenter of salons, garnering appreciation with her recitation skills.
One popular narrative recounts the delight of an American audience who was unaware that the actress had just read the Latin alphabet (with a Polish pronunciation) and the multiplication table.
Helena Modrzejewska recalled how a London audience was moved when she recited a poem by Kornel Ujejski in Polish:
“You can imagine how captivated I was by the sensitivity of the heart of those old English women who were crying without comprehending a word!” she wrote in a letter to a friend.
Helena Modrzejewska was outspoken during the World’s Fair Auxiliary Congress in Chicago in 1893, calling for a betterment in the situation of Polish women under the Russian and Prussian partitions. The echoes of her speech reached the ears of the tsar, who barred her from entering Russian territory in a special decree. Helena Modrzejewska was then barred from performing on the stages of Warsaw, which was then under tsarist administration. The actress, on the other hand, did not forget about Polish fans, instead performing on stages in Krakow, Pozna, and Lwów.
Helena Modrzejewska was not concerned in monetary gain; instead, she spent her fortune for charitable, patriotic, and sometimes simply supporting her relatives.
Helena Modrzejewska also paid for Ignacy Paderewski’s schooling in Vienna after hearing him perform as a young man.
Ethel Barrymore, the great American actress, was her godmother.
Helena Modrzejewska was the most popular actress in the world at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; people dressed like her, wore headgear like Modjeska, and restaurant dishes were named after her.
Cards, crockery, fragrances, and stationery are all still available with her signature.
In her honor, a mountain and a waterfall in the United States have both been named.
Helena Modrzejewska died on April 8, 1909, in California, following a nearly half-century career.
Funeral services were held in the United States, but in accordance with her wishes, Helena Modrzejewska was buried in Krakow’s Rakowicki Cemetery.
Do Dramaturges Write Plays? Dramaturgy in Polish Theatre Today
If you check up the word ‘dramaturg’ in a Polish dictionary, you’ll find that it refers to someone who writes plays.
In practice, their labor entails something entirely different.
A dramaturge does not always compose plays, and a playwright does not always engage in dramaturgy.
And today, dramaturgy has a distinct anti-authoritarian role in Polish theatre.
Mrs Modrzejewska’s undeniable talent, who, despite the hardships of her career, puts so much labor and diligence into every stage appearance that she may one day become the star of the world’s top theaters.
She made her first public appearance in Lviv in 1862.
Her three separate parts gained her a contract with the Lviv theatre, where she played Skierka in Sowacki’s drama Balladyna.
However, as a young and inexperienced actress, she was unable to secure prominent roles in the classical repertory.
As a result, Modrzejewska departed Lviv in early 1863 for the stages of Stanislavov (now Ivano-Frankivsk) and Chernivtsi.
There, she performed Barbara Radziwiówna in Alojzy Felinski’s tragedy, Louisa in Friedrich Schiller’s Intrigue and Love, Amelia in Juliusz Sowacki’s Mazepa, and Mary Stuart in Sowacki’s Maria Stuart.
Helena Modrzejewska would go on to star in several of Sowacki’s plays, becoming well-known for her ability to play his feminine roles.
Modrzejewska sought to sign a contract with one of Vienna’s theatres at Zimajer’s urging, but her German was insufficient, and she was unsuccessful.
She came to Kraków after her divorce from Zimajer, the father of her two children, and made her stage debut there in October 1865.
Stanisaw Komian, the Kraków theatre’s creative manager (and would-be director), had transformed the venue into something extraordinary, with a repertoire that included Polish and international classics as well as ambitious modern tragedies.
He also assembled a cast of the most interesting Polish performers, including Wincenty Rapacki and Antonina Hoffman, who co-starred with Modrzejewska.
Komian founded the ‘Kraków school,’ rejecting the star worship and tight specialisation in order to disclose the psychological, reality-based truth of a play’s protagonists.
The objectives of the writers were thoroughly examined, and teamwork was the order of the day.
Modrzejewska made her Kraków stage debut as Sara in Waclaw Szymanowski’s Salomon.
Helena Modrzejewska: International Queen of the Theatre
Helena Modrzejewska was a well-known figure in the nineteenth century.
Helena Modrzejewska brought back not only fame but also… crocodiles from the United States.
Helena Modrzejewska was the charismatic queen of Shakespearean theatre, playing around 300 parts in thousands of performances.
Helena Modrzejewska came across as the type of actress who is difficult to find even on the stages of large capital cities, an artist who, with hard work and wise management, could get to the top of her profession.
Mother Nature has been kind to her.
She has given her everything an artist requires: a lovely appearance, figure, and voice, and, most crucially, the gift of creative perspicacity, which allows an actress to immediately know what a role requires.
Modrzejewska’s most notable roles at the time included Anna Oswiecimowna in a Mikoaj Boloz Antoniewicz play (1865), Princess Eboli in Don Carlos (1866), Amalia in Schiller’s The Robbers (1866), and Portia in The Merchant of Venice – her first Shakespearean role.
The next year, she played Ophelia in Hamlet and Doe Sol in Victor Hugo’s Hernani.
Her portrayal of Eugene Scribe and Ernest Legouve’s Adrianna Lecouvreur was acclaimed as a triumph.
Modrzejewska worked hard for four years in Kraków, competing with actress Antonina Hoffman and experiencing great success with both the public and critics.
The latter thought she belonged in Vienna’s legendary Burgtheater.
Modrzejewska, an intellectual and sensitive individualist, made good use of her time at the Kraków theatre, adopting a new, more modest manner of acting and shedding some of her more provincial theater tendencies.
By 1868, Modrzejewska’s renown had spread to Warsaw, and on October 4th, she made her debut in front of the capital’s audiences as Adrianna Lecouvreur. Sergiusz Muchanow, general director of the Warsaw Government Theatres, and his wife, Maria Kalergis-Muchanow, made this premiere possible.
The New Faces of Polish Theatre Photography
Photographers are inspired by live performances to create new worlds and their own interpretations of what they witness on stage. Culture.pl introduces the artists who comprise the new face of Polish theater photography.
Even yet, she was able to modulate her performance as the plot progressed, preferring to develop it virtually entirely from scratch.
Adrianna’s role was better suited to this manner than any other.
Starting from the beginning, Modrzejewska pushed the audience into a frenzy of enthusiasm by the close of Act V.
Warsaw Great and Sad Theatre, 1868-1880, Warsaw 1963
Following the success of her Warsaw debut, Modrzejewska was able to negotiate a contract with the Warsaw Government Theatre, cementing her place as Poland’s greatest drama and comedy actress and bestowing upon her the stature of a true star.
Helena Modrzejewska even changed the repertory; it was due to her pressure that Warsaw audiences saw Hamlet’s first premiere in 50 years (with Modrzejewska playing Ophelia), as well as the play’s first Polish appearance in translation from the original.
Despite censorship, she fought for Slowacki’s dramas to be presented, and Maria Stuart premiered in 1872.
That same year, the third act of Mazepa was presented, though the complete play was not performed until 1873.
In Warsaw, Modrzejewska performed Aniela in Aleksander Fredro’s luby Panieskie (Maidens’ Vows, 1871), Princess Severine in Alexandre Dumas Jr’s Princess George, Desdemona in Othello (1873), and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (1876).
Helena Modrzejewska also appeared as a guest actress at Kraków and Lviv theaters.
Helena Modrzejewska had thoroughly established herself as Poland’s greatest actress, as well as one of Europe’s most interesting actresses of her generation, by the time she departed the Warsaw Government Theatres in 1876.
Shakespeare has a unique place in her repertoire, and she appeared in 95 of his plays during her career in Warsaw.
Modrzejewska had her final performance in front of a Polish audience in July 1867 before departing for America.
Helena Modrzejewska husband, Karol Chapowski, whom she had married in Kraków in 1868, followed her.
Helena Modrzejewska originally resided in Anaheim, where she owned a farm.
However, the company failed, and the following year she changed her name to Modjeska and relocated to San Francisco.
After completing an intense English training, she made her stage debut as Adrianna Lecouvreur at The California Theatre.
It was a huge success, and in a cable to her husband, she simply wrote: Victory. Modjeska.
As Henryk Sienkiewicz, a Gazeta Polska correspondent at the time, said at the end of his account of her performance:
Helena Modrzejewska’s Theatrical Walk Across Kraków
Helena Modrzejewska walked which Kraków streets?
The organizers of the city’s autumn promenades lead us behind the scenes of history and theater, following in the footsteps of a Polish-American icon.
Everyone was in a tizzy…
Nobody left their seats after the show, which is unheard of in the United States.
The actress was summoned back 11 times, contrary to local norm…
The United States was taken by surprise.
Modrzejewska started on her first tour of America in the autumn of 1877, performing on stages in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, among others.
The Heart of the Polish Avant-Garde: The Story of the Cricot Theatre was reviewed in the Philadelphia Public Ledger.
Throughout Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, cultural groups were looking to experiment with new forms of art, pushing boundaries and audience expectations to the extreme.
New advances in visual art, film, literature, and theater were also on the rise in Poland.
Helena Modrzejewska is one of the most talented actors of our time.
Her approach is collected and serene.
Even the most ferocious explosions are devoid of frenzy.
Helena Modrzejewska possesses incredible strength, which is heightened by the fact that she only permits a portion of it to be displayed on stage, and she has a tremendously expressive face.
Her movements are so graceful and true, and she expresses so much through her body, that she could plainly and accurately transmit her thoughts by pantomime alone.
Modrzejewska put in a lot of effort to improve her acting abilities.
Helena Modrzejewska had focused on her voice back in Poland, knowing it was her weakness, and had managed to increase her vocal range through various exercises.
She poured herself into English studies once she arrived in America, and she was always careful to stay physically active.
Helena Modrzejewska was a methodical actor who could control and regulate emotion, attracting attention in the initial scenes but displaying her full expertise only at the end.
Helena Modrzejewska great acting style was frequently praised, as was her magnetic personality, which wowed the audience.
Her performance was described as ‘beautiful.’
She tended to protect and idealize her heroines, emphasizing moral beauty that was frequently at the expense of human mistake.
Helena Modrzejewska theatrical repertory was diverse, including humorous, romantic, and tragic roles, as well as convincing portrayals of contemporary drama heroines such as Henrik Ibsen’s Nora.
Her acting became more realistic with time, but it was never pure realism – Modrzejewska was too fond of the theatrical ‘aestheticisation’ of her heroes to accept realism itself.
A number of her roles were considered to have originated in the romantic perception of beauty.
Modrzejewska, by then a well-known American actress, made a series of guest appearances in England in 1880.
Helena Modrzejewska was well accepted and returned to England in 1881, 1882, and 1885.
Helena Modrzejewska became a citizen of the United States in 1883 and continued to perform there until 1907.
She put forth a lot of effort, going on 26 tours with her company.
Since 1897, she has been a guest singer in Poland, visiting Kraków (nine times), Lviv (six times), and Warsaw (four times), as well as Pozna, Tarnów, ód, Lublin, and Stanislavov.
She had 260 roles in her repertoire.
Her performances as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia in Hamlet, and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing went down in history, as did her later roles as Rosalind in As You Like It, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Viola in Twelfth-Night, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, and Imogen in Cymbeline.
Helena Modrzejewska played Margaret Gauthier in Alexandre Dumas fils’ Camille, as well as the title parts in Octave Feuillet’s Dalila and Victorien Sardou’s Odette.
She received critical acclaim for her performances as Nora, Magda, and Silvia Settala in plays by Henrik Ibsen, Hermann Sudermann, and Gabriele d’Annunzio.
Helena Modrzejewska performed Mary and Laodamia in Stanisaw Wyspiaski’s plays Warszawianka (Varsovienne) and Protesilas and Laodamia near the end of her career in Poland.
Memories and Impressions, Modrzejewska’s memoirs written in English, were released in 1910.
Wspomnienia I Wraenia, the Polish translation, was published in 1957.
Modrzejewska died in the United States and was buried in Los Angeles in 1909.
Helena Modrzejewska remains were later repatriated to Poland and interred next to her mother’s grave at the Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków, accompanied by a funeral ritual that developed into a show of national pride.
The Legacy of Modjeska
Helena Modrzejewska was already a well-known star in some of California’s most recognized theaters when she arrived in America the following year.
In 1877, she made her American debut at the California Theatre in San Francisco.
Surprised by her performance, theatrical agent Harry J. Sargent offered her the opportunity to play in some of the most prominent east coast locations, resulting in Modjeska’s New York debut.
In 1879, the Polish actress embarked on a three-year tour of England, with the primary goal of improving her English.
Modjeska returned to America with new plays that had yet to be seen in the United States.
In 1883, Helena Modrzejewska presented the first adaptation of a Henrik Ibsen play in America, adding to her extensive list of contributions to the American stage.
Helena Modrzejewska burgeoning star grabbed the attention of women’s rights activists across the country, prompting her to deliver a speech at the women’s convention at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
This speech would result in a tsar-imposed travel ban to Russian territory.
Her acting career appeared to be over when she suffered a stroke that left her largely disabled in 1897.
She quickly recovered, though, and decided it was time to return to Poland.
She toured the country between 1902 and 1903, her final performance in her motherland.
Helena Modrzejewska died on April 8, 1909, at Newport Beach, California, as a result of Bright’s Disease complications.
Her remains was then returned to Cracow and interred in the Rakowicki Cemetery.
Modjeska’s influence rejuvenated theatrical arts in America, especially at a time when movies had yet to reach the public.
Modjeska Canyon and Modjeska Peak are two monuments and sites in California that bear his name.
Arden, her home in Modjeska Canyon, has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the US government and has become a destination for Shakespeare fans (especially for her role as Lady Macbeth).
Some even claim that Helena Modrzejewska was one of the most influential Polish-American actresses to ever grace the stage, which is why Google decided to honor her birthday with her very own unique doodle – which, in today’s society, would be the equal of receiving a statue.
What I Received from God and from People. A Story of Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska).
What I Received from God and from People is a story about Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska) (1840-1909), the most famous American actress of her time, who popularized Shakespeare’s plays in America with her amazing ability and great renditions of Shakespearean heroines. Modjeska appeared on many stages, both large and small; on the one hand, she performed frequently at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (where she ended her career with a memorable performance), and on the other, she appeared on the stages of numerous provincial theaters throughout the United States and Canada.
What is Helena Modrzejewska well-known for?
Celebrated Polish actress who was a star in both Poland and America during her career. Born in Kraków on October 12, 1840, and died in Newport Beach, California on April 8, 1909.
Helena Modrzejewska’s current age is?
The actress, who was born Jadwiga Benda on this day in 1840 in Krakow, Poland, would have celebrated her 181st birthday today.
Was Krakow Independent?
The Republic of Cracow, also known as the Free City of Cracow, Cracow, also written Kraków, Polish Rzeczpospolita Krakowska, or Wolne Miasto Kraków, was a minor state that existed for 31 years (1815–46) as Poland’s only remaining independent province.
Why is Helena Modrzejewska Google?
Google devoted its Doodle on Tuesday to Modrzejewska, one of Poland’s best actors, on her 181st birthday. On October 12, 1840, in Krakow, Poland, she was born to difficult parents as Jadwiga Benda and baptized as Helena Opid.