Bolshoi opens season amid strife and doom

Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:37pm EDT
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By Michael Stott

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The 234th season of Russia's world-famous Bolshoi Theater opened on Tuesday with chaos, tragedy, betrayal and strife.

Off-stage, the plot was scarcely less dramatic.

Hours before the curtain went up on the opening night's production of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," the Bolshoi's newly appointed musical director was presented to the press.

Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov freely admitted in an interview that he was "not a real musical director" and was in the role temporarily after the abrupt departure of his predecessor, Alexander Vedernikov.

Desyatnikov, who has written operas and film music but is not an experienced conductor, will not take the baton for the opera or ballet performances this season at the Bolshoi. Instead he will rely on a stable of five rotating conductors.

"I don't have any particular plans," Desyatnikov said in an interview with Reuters when asked about his strategy.

"My strategy can be summed up as not positioning myself as a real musical director ... rather as a link between the previous musical director and the one who will appear, I hope soon."

Vedernikov quit abruptly after eight years in July during the Bolshoi's summer tour of Italy, saying the theater was "putting bureaucratic interests before artistic ones."   Continued...