The play "The Cherry Orchard" was the last major work of the great Russian writer and playwright Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. At the end of 1901, Anton Pavlovich, in a letter to his wife, complained of ill health and forced idleness, mentioning at the same time that he would like to start writing a funny play. Chekhov, indeed, defined the genre of the future play as a comedy. Although, the plot of the work itself is far from funny: the landowner Lyubov Andreevna Ranevskaya was left without funds and her family estate with a huge cherry orchard was sold for debts.
The plot was well known to Chekhov, many years ago his father, the Taganrog merchant Pavel Yegorovich Chekhov went bankrupt and was forced to flee from creditors to Moscow. And in the eighties of the nineteenth century Chekhov often visited the village of Babkino near Moscow and witnessed how the local landowner Kiselev sold his estate in order to pay off debts and entered the service in one of the banks in Kaluga. It is believed that it was Kiselev who became the prototype of Gaev, the brother of L.A. Ranevskaya.
The work on the new play went very slowly. In letters to friends, Chekhov complained that he wrote several lines a day with incredible torment. Anton Pavlovich was worried about an old disease - tuberculosis, was a hassle and everyday troubles. But, despite all the difficulties, he continued to write the play.
Chekhov did not immediately decide on the title of his work, only in the summer of 1902 he secretly told his wife, Olga Leonardovna Knipper, that he had decided to name the play "The Cherry Orchard". And a few months later he shared this secret with his sister Maria Pavlovna Chekhova. Moreover, he did not even say the name, but wrote it on a piece of paper and silently handed it to his sister.
The writer spent July and August 1903 in the Moscow region in the village of Lyubimovka. By that time, he was already pretty tired of Yalta, where, for health reasons, he was forced to live for months. In Lyubimovka, Chekhov enjoyed the silence and picturesque nature, the work progressed much faster than in the south. In letters from that time, Chekhov mentions that the plot turned out to be "magnificent".
On October 21, 1903, the actors of the Moscow Art Theater first became acquainted with the play. Stanislavsky immediately informed Chekhov that no other play had been received with such enthusiasm. At the end of November, the work passed the censorship and was returned with the signature "Allowed for submission." The theater troupe started rehearsals.
Chekhov tried to regularly attend rehearsals, discussed roles with the actors, and amended the text. But Chekhov remained dissatisfied with the director's interpretation of The Cherry Orchard, despite the fact that the actors worked with full confidence in the success of the play. Chekhov, on the other hand, was very skeptical about this and even offered the theater to buy all the rights to this play from him for 3, 000 rubles. For such a major work and the popularity of Chekhov as a playwright, this was a very small amount.
The premiere took place on January 17, 1904, on the author's birthday. In addition, literary Russia was preparing for the 25th anniversary of the creative activity of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, at the end of 1879 he published his first humorous works in the Dragonfly magazine: etc. ".
Critics have given different ratings to The Cherry Orchard. For example, a review appeared in Moskovskiye Vedomosti, in which the critic Basargin noted that the play is imbued with a sense of humanism, awakens sympathy for all the characters, including the merchant Lopakhin, who does not know "what the money is for".
The proletarian writer Maxim Gorky spoke about the production much more restrained. In his opinion, "The Cherry Orchard" does not give the impression of a large piece, but only repeats old motives. V.G. Korolenko found that Chekhov's previous plays made a stronger impression.
But, contrary to the opinion of strict critics, the play quickly gained popularity. She was successfully staged on the stages of many theaters both in the Russian Empire and in foreign countries. They did not forget about the "Cherry Orchard" after the revolution. In addition to theatrical performances, the play has been repeatedly filmed in dozens of countries around the world.
A big fan of the work of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was the actress Faina Georgievna Feldman. She took as her pseudonym the surname of one of the heroines of The Cherry Orchard - Ranevskaya. According to Faina Georgievna, they had something in common, but "not everything."
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov himself did not live long after the premiere of The Cherry Orchard. In the summer of 1904, he went to a resort in Germany. The disease progressed, despite the efforts of the doctors, it was not possible to save Chekhov. He died in Badenweiler, Germany, on the night of July 1-2 at the age of 44. The coffin was delivered to Moscow, the funeral took place on July 9 at the Novodevichy cemetery. "The Cherry Orchard" was the last play by Anton Pavlovich.