Vladimir Urin, head of Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, will replace Anatoly Iksanov as head of the Bolshoi in an attempt to end a battle for control that escalated this year with an acid attack on the ballet company’s artistic director.
“I’m not planning any revolutions,” Urin, 66, said today during a briefing on national television with Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and Iksanov. “It is very important that this transfer from one manager to another happens in a civilized arena, in a normal, calm and businesslike manner.”
Russia’s most famous theater, founded in 1776 by Catherine the Great, has been riven by scandals, with artistic director Sergei Filin disfigured in a January acid attack and his predecessor resigning over the publication of explicit photos in the Internet in 2011. Ballet star Nikolai Tsiskaridze was forced out last month after he’d called for Iksanov to resign.
Medinsky announced Iksanov’s departure, as the season ends and after more than 12 years at the helm, on national television today. His contract had been set to run through 2014, RIA Novosti reported. The ministry will invite Iksanov to serve as adviser, according to a statement on its website.
The attack on Filin this year laid bare the tensions at the theater. Leading dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko was detained in February after confessing to organizing the Jan. 17 assault, while denying that he’d sought to have acid used.
In February investigators cited rivalries at the Bolshoi as probable motives for the crime, particularly between supporters of Filin and Tsiskaridze, who was locked in a battle with the ballet company’s management.
More than 300 members of the ballet came out in defense of Dmitrichenko and signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, calling the idea of Dmitrichenko masterminding the crime “absurd.”
Iksanov said previously he didn’t believe that Dmitrichenko was behind the acid attack. Tsiskaridze has repeatedly denied involvement in the assault.
Tsiskaridze, who joined the Bolshoi in 1992, told the BBC in February that the theater’s management should be fired. In March, he said he was ready to replace Iksanov. The Bolshoi said last month that it would end its relationship with Tsiskaridze when his contract ended on June 30.
The theater has also been criticized for mismanaging a six-year, $680 million overhaul, and Anastasia Volochkova, a ballerina who was fired in 2003, claimed that dancers were pimped out as escorts for wealthy and influential patrons’ parties, which Iksanov dismissed as “nonsense and dirt.”
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