President Vladimir Putin awarded Valery Gergiev, director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, a Hero of Labor award, a Soviet-era distinction restored by the Russian leader this year.
Putin handed awards to Gergiev and four others, including a neurosurgeon, at a ceremony in the Konstantinovsky Palace outside St. Petersburg, the Kremlin said today on its website.
Moscow-born Gergiev, who turns 60 tomorrow, has led the Mariinsky for 17 years and is also the chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. In January he was appointed chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra for a five-year term beginning 2015.
Putin will attend a gala evening featuring Placido Domingo and other stars to mark the opening of the new $700 million Mariinsky II opera house tomorrow, according to state news service RIA Novosti.