The conductor Gergiev becomes head of the Moscow Bolshoi Theater. He is considered a confidant of President Putin. His predecessor Urin publicly spoke out against Putin’s war against Ukraine last year.
The internationally known conductor Valeri Gergiev, who is a friend of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, is taking over the management of the world-famous Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced in Moscow that the 70-year-old had been appointed general director of Russia’s largest state theater for a period of five years. Gergiev also directs the internationally renowned Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown. Gergiev had previously said in response to reports about his possible appointment that he was already very busy and was not looking for more work.
Last year, Gergiev had to resign as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic because he had not distanced himself from Putin’s war against Ukraine. Other concert halls, orchestras and festivals around the world also ended their collaboration with the star conductor. He has not yet commented publicly on the Ukraine conflict. Gergiev now performs mainly in Russia; at the beginning of the year he also toured China.
Open letter against Putin’s war
The previous head of the Bolshoi Theater, Vladimir Urin, announced his resignation. “I’m saying goodbye today because today is my last day working at the Bolshoi Theater,” said the 76-year-old at a premiere party in front of the company, according to a video circulating on the Internet.
Last year, Urin and other cultural workers spoke out against the war in Ukraine in an open letter – two days after the war began. However, he was previously considered a supporter of the Kremlin. The media recently reported that Putin himself had insisted on Urin’s dismissal. Officially it was said that Urin himself had asked to be fired. He had led the theater with the largest ballet company in the world and the internationally renowned opera and concert divisions since 2013. His contract would have been valid until 2027.
Because of the war and the resulting Western sanctions, many Bolshoi artists ended their involvement with the theater of their own volition or by force.
Björn Blaschke, ARD Moscow, tagesschau, December 1st, 2023 4:41 p.m