Corruption claims, smear campaigns, and artistic stagnation have dogged the Bolshoi in recent years, and the ballet company hopes a magnificent renovation of its Moscow theatre will revive its fortunes, according to the Irish Times.
Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre finally prepares to reopen in October after a painstaking, and often painful, six-year renovation that will restore the theater to its 19th-century glory, yet includes enough 21st-century technology to satisfy the most demanding director.
The auditorium has been returned to its original violin shape, and fine wooden panels and delicate moldings have replaced the shoddy concrete and plaster that were used to patch up the theater during Soviet times, and which destroyed its acoustics in the process. Experts say the auditorium will once more act like a huge, resonating musical instrument, amplifying the sound of the orchestra just as its creators intended when the building first opened, in 1825.
But some performers and critics fear it will not cure the Bolshoi’s most serious ills. Corruption claims have dogged a renovation that has run 16 times over budget and several years late; Bolshoi Ballet stars have become embroiled in lurid scandals; and a string of high-profile disputes, sackings, and resignations has reinforced the theater’s reputation for poisonous intrigue.
“The company was not really demoralized by all these stories and scandals,” says Katerina Novikova, a spokeswoman for the Bolshoi. “Everybody understands that all this is happening because the Bolshoi is great and famous, and many different forces would love to become its leaders,” she says. “There is a saying in Russia: the dog barks but the caravan moves on.”
The Bolshoi has seen a lot in its time, from the premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake to speeches by Lenin and Stalin, from Nazi bombs to the artistry of legendary ballerinas like Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya, and the current star Natalia Osipova. To read the full story, visit www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2011/0524/1224297611432.html.