MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— The most widely-discussed topics related to the Russia’s most famous Bolshoi Theatre, such as ticket sales and the fate of the theatre’s ballet company, were in focus of a news conference at Itar-Tass on Thursday.
The theatre’s director general Anatoly Iksanov, artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin, chairman of the board of trustees Alexander Budberg, and managers of the overhaul works in the theatre’s building Marat Oganesyan and Elena Stepanova spoke to journalists for about one hour.
First, journalists wanted to know details about the theatre’s decision to sell tickets upon presentation of passports to clamp on ticket scalpers. The news hit the headlines on Wednesday and has been widely discussed in media.
The theatre’s director general clarified the situation. In his words, The Bolshoi Theatre will sell tickets by passports only via the Internet and to persons entitled to fringe benefits.
According to Iksanov, passport data will be needed to book theatre tickets via its website. “The scheme is as follows: tickets are booked on the Internet three months before a performance to allow those who are entitled to fringe benefits to buy the tickets first,” he said. The rest of the tickets are to be sold over the counter. In his words, it is common practice at Milan’s La Scala. “Moreover, in Italy they have gone still further – the booked tickets are sold only on the performance day to make the chances for their re-sale still more scarce,” he noted.
As of now, it has been decided to sell 396 tickets a day at a price of 100 rubles for the poor. Officially, the highest ticket price is about 3,000 rubles.
No passports will be needed to buy tickets at ticket counters or via specialized agencies.
Then, journalists raised another “hot news” – the recent resignation of Bolshoi’s first dancers, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasilyev, who have opted for the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.
“I am sorry this happened on the eve of the first night of the Sleeping Beauty staged by Yuri Grigorovich; it has not allowed us to concentrate on the work,” said Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet. At the same time, he noted that Osipova was not to dance in the performance on the first night, “which was a decision by Yuri Grigorovich, too.”
“I spoke to Natasha and offered her to perform in the next block of performances, in January,” Filin explained. But in January she is to dance in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird in an American Ballet Theatre, and he would not let her to the Bolshoi.
“As for the theatre’s work with the stars, including Osipova and Vasilyev, we used to face situations where dancers wanted to take part in outside performances, and the Bolshoi has always met their wishes,” Filin said, adding the theatre had never been annoyed at its former soloists.
“I am pleased that actors themselves do not blame the theatre management for anything,” he added. “It is their choice, we cannot tether them to the place, and as the soloists came up to me to resign, they had ready decisions, it was not an ultimatum or a demand. I asked them, ‘Am I to blame, is the Bolshoi to blame?’ They replied, ‘No, it has nothing to do with you, the thing is that it has become too comfortable for us here, we know everything well in advance, we want to move forward, we aspire uncertainty’.”
“The Bolshoi Theatre is their home, our doors are always open for them,” Filin stressed. “They have lived up to an international level.” He also said that Mikhailovsky Theatre’s director general Vladimir Kekhman had called him and warned that if the Bolshoi allows any attack on him or his theatre, he will make a decision that from December 1, as the soloists are enrolled officially in St. Petersburg’s company, they will be banned categorically to appear on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.
Journalists also recalled negative media comments about the situation around the renovated Bolshoi Theatre by ballet soloist Nikolai Tsiskaridze. He spoke much about the “vandal” overhaul of the theatre. Apart from that, he has predicted a mass exodus of leading performers. Along with Osipova and Vasilyev, another dancer, Andrei Uvarov, left the theatre from November 1 to take up an instructor’s career at Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko musical theatre. “It is true, Andrei has retired,” the Bolshoi ballet artistic director reiterated. “We tried to persuade him to stay but he wouldn’t. He said he could not dance as he used to and would like to be through with the dancing career. But we still have very friendly relations with him. We were sorry to let him go.”
As for Tsiskaridze’s words about the inferior quality of renovation works, Elena Stepanova, an acclaimed restorer, said these allegations have nothing to do with the real state of things. “The renovation works were science-based, no plastic was used in the interior decorations of the Bolshoi’s historical hall,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Bolshoi officials said the theatre has no big problems with the company. Suffice it to say, said the general director, that there are six casts for the nearest premiere, the Sleeting Beauty. “The Bolshoi Theatre must have the best, and, of course, we are looking for the most talented performers across the entire country and abroad,” Iksanov added.