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Anybody want to run the Bolshoi?

Twelve cultural prominenti wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin last week, calling for Andrei Iksanov, director for the past 12 miserable years, to be replaced by the dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze. In a swift riposte, Putin’s culture ministry announced the renewal of Iskanov’s contract.

Since then, various of the prominenti have let it be known that they meant no offence to Iskanov. The opera singer Elena Obratsova has written him a public apology, saying she hadn’t read the letter that she signed to Putin. As one does (or does not) in Putin’s Russia.

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  1. During five of those years, ending in December, 2011 the Bolshoi theater was going through a major restoration.
    Is it possible that the disruption due to the extensive construction contributed to a decline in programming, and morale, etc.? This reader has no knowledge of the facts, so it is not a rhetorical question.

  2. Just a followup. The July 22, 2011 edition of Ria Novosti did report that:
    “…..Since the Bolshoi’s reconstruction started in 2005, the project has been marred by repeated schedule delays, as well as fraud allegations. Russian prosecutors opened a probe in 2009 into the suspected embezzlement of millions of dollars during the renovation.
    The theater has been running performances in the Choral, Round and Beethoven halls, where reconstruction work has already been completed, since 2010. Reconstruction work on the main foyer, the facade and the square in front of the theater is also complete…..”

  3. P.S. The theater reopened in October, 2011 not December, 2011. Mea culpa.
    An article describing the restoration can be accessed at;
    The one alluding to the fraud investigation is at:

  4. I’ve gotten the impression, from reading coverage of the Bolshoi over the past few years, that Tsiskaridze is a brilliant dancer but something of a nasty piece of work as a human being. Can anyone who knows about the situation there comment?

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