Postcard from... Moscow


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The Independent Online


There has hardly been a quiet day at the Bolshoi Theatre for a year, with allegations of corruption on a massive scale, criticism from some of the world’s leading opera stars, and most horrifically of all, an acid attack on the head of the ballet troupe.

But at a press conference to announce plans for the new season in Moscow yesterday, the theatre’s top management breezed through the roster of upcoming premieres and engagements as if nothing was wrong at all. The name of Pavel Dmitrichenko, the ballet dancer on trial for ordering the acid attack on Sergei Filin, was not mentioned once. Nor was Nikolai Tsiskaridze, the outspoken premier dancer who suggested that the theatre invented the story of the acid attack and is suspected by some of involvement. After years of a stormy relationship with the Bolshoi, in which he repeatedly attempted to oust the management, and claimed that the costly renovations of the theatre made it look “like a Turkish hotel”, the theatre finally parted company with him earlier this week.

The theatre was embarrassed again when Anna Netrebko, perhaps Russia’s most famous opera singer, said that the Bolshoi needed to sack the management and start from scratch. “Maybe then, things will finally change,” she said.

Yesterday, no mention was made of any of this, and when a journalist later asked about Tsiskaridze, and then about  Netrebko, General Director Anatoly Iksanov simply laughed and waved the question away. Through all the scandals, infighting and accusations, Iksanov somehow manages to survive in the top post.