At the end of the 19th century, the father of the great director Eduards Smiļģis, Jānis Smiļģis, bought a plot of land in the then Dorofejevka – now on Eduards Smiļga Street. His son bought an already built house there in 1922 and over the years it was transformed into the grand Pardaugava House, which now houses the Eduards Smiļģis Theater Museum of the Latvian Academy of Culture dedicated to Latvian performing arts. If the great actress Lidija Freimane had not spoken about the need for the museum at one time, this building would probably have set up accounting for the USSR company “Zapriba”, which supplied delicacies to the Soviet elite. How Freimane managed to protect the house, the Latvian program “TE!” The head of the actress Kristīne Pasternaka and the head of the museum Jānis Siliņš tell the head Marta Selecka.
Today, Smiļģis House in all its greatness can be experienced thanks to Freimane. The small, energetic woman, as the chairwoman of the LSSR Theater Society, at that time sought help from the highest authorities in Riga and Moscow, getting Smiļģis’ house taken over by the society and renovating it for the needs of the Theater Museum.
Addressed both in Riga and Moscow
At the end of Smilģis’ life, the house was already in a sad condition, and after the director’s death, no one left the house. The leadership of the USSR at that time offered this beautiful place of Pardaugava to the Moscow company “Zapriba”, which at that time supplied fish to the elite. Freimane, as the chairwoman of the Theater Workers’ Union, learned about this idea by accident when he went to a guest performance at the Moscow Theater at the Opera. ‘Kaupužs was sitting next to the lodge (LPSR Minister of Culture Vladimirs Kaupužs). He slapped me on the shoulder with the words, “What will I tell you? If you do nothing, the “Zapriba” accounting house will be built in place of Smiļģis’ house, “Freimane wrote in the publication” Fate Story Library “, which was published in 1992.
The next day, Freimane, whose ally in the fight for Smiļģis House was the former Minister of Culture Voldemārs Kalpiņš, started to act – she called without a myth, wrote letters both formally and with a completely humane approach to all possible responsible institutions in Riga and even Moscow. In this way, she “knocked out” the opportunity to preserve Smiļģis’ house and, according to the director’s own intention, to establish a theater museum there.
Freimane literally saved the house and won that the building, at least in appearance, is preserved as it was in the time of Smilga. What was her motivation to do so? She could face punishment for such actions and defense of the idea, but she did not gain any material benefit from it.
Freimane’s daughter Kristine Pasternak remembers the time when Lydia Freimane started the fight for the preservation of the house as a detective story.
“Every day there were intense events at home. There were both visits to the Council of Ministers and fighting with the locals, who had set the house on fire to prove that they had stolen fragments of antique stairs and any wooden material that would be useful for heating. The first fight was to return this house to the Theater Union and the theater world, but the second fight was to restore him to the view that Smilgis had built him. It was already a fight with Latvian architects, but my mother won, ”says Pasternaka.
Today, the house operates in full blood and tells about Latvian performing arts and its values through the ages, talks about Smiļģis’ excellence in Latvian theater art. The building, its architecture, interior design and historical evidence are complemented by the works of other outstanding artists, such as the works of Indulis Zariņš, Aleksandrs Stankēvičs, Edgars Iltners, Jānis Andris Ošs, Rita Valners, as well as Kaspars Zariņš and Romans Suta.
It was Freiman’s nature to take care
Jānis Siliņš, the director of the Theater Museum, believes that Freimane was a person who was given the ability to do more in life and do something good for others. She needed to fulfill her every day – both in the family and at work and by doing something extra. Whenever she could, she always helped.
Siliņš, as a 9th grade student, once participated in the construction of the Smiļģis Museum. Thanks to Lydia Freimane, each student was given a ticket to a performance by Greek actress Aspazija Papatanasiu. It could not have been done, but it was Freimane’s nature to take care of others. Principalism, despite the times, also emerges by studying the actress’ life, watching roles and reading a book she has dedicated to her children. She was not only helpful and caring towards others, but also very purposeful and enterprising.
If mom did something, then all 100 percent. It happened as if she had no obstacles, although they were, of course,
The actress proved her inner strength when she was young. For example, during the Second World War, when Freimane’s father was killed, she went to Daugavpils to take her father’s ashes home. Freimane also withstood the pressure of the environment when he returned from Germany during the war and was perceived as a German – as a “bad woman”. The actress had a very strong backbone – and that was why Freimane was able to knock out the museum.
Sandy’s soul is satisfied
She did everything Freimane did and was not afraid to go against her goals. What can be learned from her today? “Set goals and do things. Even if you are no longer in office, do not forget what you have done and keep doing it, ”Siliņš highlights Freimane’s work. She did the same – she also took care of the legendary theater staff house in Murjāņi “Rūķīši” and the Amtmani brothers’ house in Valle. Often with us (Latvia), when the manager changes, the new one says that the previous one has done very badly. The Theater Museum is fortunate that Lidija Freimane has laid a very strong foundation both organizationally and humanly, ”admits Siliņš.
As Freimane wrote in his memoirs about the opening event of the museum in 1974: “The celebrations took place in the spring – on August 16. Jānis Zariņš (director – author) was standing next to me. Suddenly I looked up and was surprised to see that the cherry branch was blooming with white flowers against Smilga’s house. I looked at Jānis Zariņš and whispered: “Smoļģa’s soul seems to be satisfied”.
Although Freimane did not work with Smilgi herself, she saw his size, and this house reflects that. The theater was the director’s whole life – even down the street he went with his head held high to see the horizon.