Bolshoi’s new season: I won’t be there

Bolshoi’s new season: I won’t be there


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2019

Edward Snowden (below) may be a regular and there will be VIP seats for the Assads and the Maduros, but the Bolshoi is still tied too closely to the Kremlin to attract visitors of conscience.


Its new opera productions are:

September 26, 2019, The Tale Of Tsar Saltan by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Music director — Tugan Sokhiev.
December 5, 2019 — Dido and Aeneas, co-production with International Opera Festival in Aix-en-Provence. Music director — Christopher Moulds
February 14, 2020, Sadko by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Director — Dmitri Tcherniakov. Music Director — to be announced.
March 5, 2020, The Little Chimney Sweep by Benjamin Britten Music Director — Ayrat Kashaev Director — Oleg Dolin
March 6, 2020 – Mazeppa by Tchaikovsky, concert version Conductor — Tugan Sokhiev
May 24, 2020 Anna Boleyn by Gaetano Donizetti, concert version Conductor — Tugan Sokhiev
June 17, 2020 Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Music Director — Tugan Sokhiev. Director — Semyon Spivak
July 2, 2020 Les Pêcheurs De Perles by Georges Bizet. Music Director — Alexei Vereschagin. Director — Vladislav Nastavshev


  • Frankster says:

    And you avoid Gergiev too? Matsuev? Sokolov?

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Both Bolshoi & Mariinsky may be tied to Putin’s Kremlin, but one must agree, he is one of the very few world political leaders who genuinely seems to care for high culture. He supports these institutions, but has the good taste of not interfering with how they are run. I understand people like Gergiev, who are very aware their institutions may never enjoy the same privileges under other politicians in the future. I am not a fan of Putin, but unlike some other despots like Erdogan in Turkey, I can find some redeeming features in him.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      No, one must not agree. Your comment makes me sick that some think the actions of those you mention are somehow cleansed by their support of art. There is no redemption. Not even in art.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “who genuinely seems to care for high culture.” / “redeeming features”

      Let’s see:

      On the one hand, he invaded Ukraine. On the other hand, he likes music. Now you’re saying, that’s “redeeming” in some way.

      Let’s bring this into perspective, shall we?

      I break into your house and steal one room (the complete room, like Crimea, gone). But you know that I stole it and I donate regularly for the local orchestra. We’re cool then? You’re sure about that? 😀

  • anon says:

    1) Assange wishes he was there. His first mistake was to head for the Bolivian embassy. He should’ve visited the Russian embassy first.

    Neither the British nor the Americans would’ve interfered with his direct flight to Moscow on Aeroflot.

    2) But how is Putin getting away with it?

    First, the Americans. Trump will never do anything against Putin for interfering in the election, because it’d acknowledge that he was helped by the Russians.

    Plus, Putin has the pee pee tape of Trump.

    Second, the British. Teresa May is too distracted by Brexit, and too weak, to confront a leader who ordered 2 successful assassinations on British soil, and caused the death of two British citizens on British soil.

    Third, the EU? Well, France and Germany won’t do anything unless led by the Brits and Americans, Hungary is pro-Kremlin, Poland is too scared right next door….

  • V.Lind says:

    If I were on holiday on Moscow (chance would be a fine thing) I would not hesitate to go to the Bolshoi. I am not sure how the company is tied to the Kremlin. But I am sure that the dedicated dancers who work all their lives to perform their best, and the choreographers, are not plotting the downfall of the west.

    I followed the National Ballet of Cuba for many years, her and in Havana.I was not a supporter of Fidel Castro nor sympathetic to many of his policies.

  • Barry Murphy says:

    I feel largely negative about Norman’s post and reply.

    And much more important numerically are the Bolshoi Ballet’s broadcasts streamed to cinemas world-wide by Pathé (a French company).

    I think Norman needs to reconsider. What would be next? Avoiding posting about or interviewing Russian artists unless they’re hostile to Putin: as far as I know Anna Netrebko, though a dual national, very definitely is not.

    I’ve often hit back at the widespread spam and fake news that Lebrecht, believe it or not, attracts. I hope that he responds to this and the other largely unfavourable comments or downvotes.

  • Selim says:

    How can you Norman put in the same sentence Assad and Maduro? You are always wonderfully informed about music art, and I have been enjoying your blog for many years, but Maduro is not an assassin like Bachar al Assad who has used chemical weapons against his people

  • muslit says:

    Putin and Gergiev are anti-gay (Gergiev denies it — “anyone can buy a ticket”). Putin might know something about the arts. So did Hitler. Putin is also buddies with the current U.S. president. ‘Nuff said.

  • observer says:

    In 2015, the European Parliament adopted a forceful resolution urging the 28 nations of the European Union to recognize Edward J. Snowden as a “whistle-blower and international human rights defender” and shield him from prosecution.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The resolution of the European Parliament means precisely “bugger-all”. It would be up to the governments of the individual countries to decide their attitude to Snowden.

  • Alexander says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, your conscience may or may not be admirable, but the opinion expressed here is terribly naive and misguided. You imply the Bolshoi, Gergiev, Matsuev… are biased, their artistic output is corrupt, making such artists and institutions subservient to State propaganda. First, I would like to specifically see some artistic evidence supporting your claims of “conscience”. Second, State support for cultural institutions has been part of Russia for centuries! – before and after the revolution. You might as well strike all of great Russian music, musicians, and ballet from your repertoire. While at it, you might as well boycott Carnegie Hall, since Mr. Len Blavatnik (a businessman with direct links to Kremlin and Russian oligarchs), is on board and has the first tier named after him as a result of giving money to the Hall. And if you are so worried about artistic integrity, perhaps you would like to also object to the very questionable artistic choices made by our “local” institutions, such as the The Met and the NY Phil. While at it, when was the last time NY Times had a truly critical (objective) review of a Met opera production? Could it be that various conflicts of interests, institutional politics, and the ego-trips of the wealthy donors (who usually know much less than they imagine) are severely corrupting the artistic quality of our local institutions? Go ahead, boycott everyone, Mr. Lebrecht! Or think about this post, a little.