Gergiev overrides Coronavirus ban

Gergiev overrides Coronavirus ban


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2020

The Russian Ministry of Culture announced the closure of all federal institutions, museums and theatres at 16.13 today.

Yuri Temirkanov immediately cancelled the St Petersburg Philharmonic. The Bolshoi had already shut down.

At the Mariinsky Theatre, however, Valery Gergiev is a law unto himself.

At 18:46, staff at the Mariinsky received an internal e-mail saying that tonight’s performance of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk would go ahead.

And so it did.

Later, the Mariinsky announced it would close from tonight until March 31.


  • MezzoLover says:

    I wish I could’ve been there…

    One of the highlights of my opera-going experience was a performance of Prokofiev’s “Fiery Angel” at the Met in 1992, by the visiting Kirov Opera (which has since been renamed the Marinsky Theatre) under the then 38-year-old Gergiev, with Galina Gorchakova and Sergei Leiferkus leading an outstanding cast in a sensational (and sensationalistic) production. Intensely powerful stuff that left the audience (me included) literally out of breath.

    I can only imagine how wildly magnificent this Lady Macbeth must’ve been…

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Agreed, for 1992 “Fiery Angel” – but the Gergiev of then is vastly different from now. The fantastic company-builder, talent-spotter and dynamic musician of old has let it all go to his head; sloppy, slack, lazy, irresponsible, approximate music-making has taken over. I wouldn’t cross the road, let alone the Atlantic to hear him now.

  • JN&RB says:

    He doesn’t care about other people. Nothing new.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Well audience members would possibly have travelled a long way on the trip of a life time and he would not want to disappoint them. As you say the building closed straight away until at least the end of the month. Hopefully no one was coughed on!

  • Leporello says:

    Well, he’s next to God, so what else should we expect?

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Of course he did….
    Because he is a D-bag.

    • Luca says:

      You should see what’s happening in France where hundreds of people are ignoring advice such as leave one metre’s distance between people queuing or avoiding groups and visits from friends.

  • Ben G. says:

    Gergiev should get out of the business altogether.

    Besides his notorius lack of promptness in arriving to rehearsals and concerts, he is now putting other people in danger with his God-like decisions in these difficult times.

    And I don’t care how good of a conductor he is, or care to know his reasoning.

    You don’t swim against the waves when the whole planet is going in the same direction.

  • Brian says:

    If an opera house tried that almost anywhere else the police would have shut it down within minutes. Of course, this being Putin’s Russia, all bets are off.

    • SVM says:

      So, Brian is saying that “Putin’s Russia” should have sent police to close a cultural venue that remains open only a few hours after an announcement of general closures? One can argue that the extreme measures warrant a more extreme response, but that soon?

  • Gustavo says:

    But he didn’t go viral.

  • MezzoLover says:

    Not trying to defend Gergiev – and I know how strongly people feel about him these days – but I do believe he is one of the few active conductors capable of producing a truly “Russian” orchestral sound no matter which orchestra he conducts.

    And I long for the day when he and Lisa Batiashvili (who is Georgian and who has turned down concert offers with Gergiev, who is of partial Ossetian heritage and who is widely viewed as an ally of Putin’s) can finally come together and put down a Tchaikovsky D-Major – that would be something really special!

    • engineers_unite says:

      You mean “truly Russian” sloppiness of the worst order.

      I have heard his rehearsals, recorded him, watched his palsy ridden conducting and heard some of the most disastrous orchestral playing ever.

      Like Putin, “the buck stops with him”. No other person can be blamed for being in denial then making other people suffer for it.

  • Ed says:

    Mikhail Sinkevich was the conductor of the Shostakovich on Tuesday night, not Gergiev.