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Opportunity Knocks

Moving into a small residence in St. Petersburg proper with what little money he could organize, he soon answered a call for an assistant to a small attorney's office in the city. Despite his lack of formal education, Eisenstein was exceptionally bright and had learned by this point to read and write in Cyrillic as well as Hebrew.

The barrister of the office, Sol Diaghilev, shared a common Semitic heritage with Eisenstein. He was therefore not necessarily met with the same level of contempt in this new occupation. He had actually acquired many skills useful in the legal profession. His multilingualism was very practical when working with cases, and he had a great deal of experience working with different kinds of people from his previous professions. Along with his continued willingness to work with anyone else, he showed a youthful enthusiasm.

In fact, after several years, he had grown to pay off his debts and while he was hardly living well by any stretch of the imagination, he was no longer constantly worrying when his next meal was going to come. Eisenstein often worked long hours for little pay, however he was thankful that he was given such an opportunity. On the other hand, something still seemed to be missing to him.


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He was not working in the performing arts, which he still considered to be his calling. Even if his fame would later come as a ballet impresario and a not a performer, at this point he continuously imagined himself as a musician. According to some reports, he would spend what little free time he had on the street corners, performing on his Zither for the kopeks people threw.

However, that was to change after working in this capacity for several years. Approaching middle age by 1880s, he finally had his chance. While continuing to maintain his job while working for long hours, he answered a call at the local Sergeyev Theatre. While a little known composer had submitted a ballet for production there entitled "The Angel of the Desert." Though it may not be obvious from the heading, the ballet was supposed to be an interpretation of the Crimean War. However, it desperately needed a backer and someone to organize it. In short, it needed an impresario who was quite wealthy and experienced.

Sensing an opportunity to get into the show, he started to work under an assumed name. Putting his business skills to good use, he wagered everything he had on the production and claimed that he was well experienced in such things. To his credit, it certainly seemed as though he was. However, at the time it was probably an extremely unwise thing to do. After all, he had the chance to loose more money than he even had.

Copyright Aaron Gold 2010