Anatoly Iksanov has retired as director of the Bolshoi Theatre. His contract finishes in 2014 but he has retired early, or been sacked, according to different Russian news agencies. His successor Vladimir Urin, who since 1995 has headed the Musical Theater of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, said at yesterday’s press conference that he initially refused the position, but accepted when Iksanov himself approved his appointment.
Supporting the ‘sacked’ theory is the report from Gazeta which quotes a source close to the theatre as saying,
On Monday morning Iksanova was called to the ministry where he learned that he was no longer the director.
I understand what a big responsibility this is. One person alone can do nothing, but together we can grow.
I do not plan any revolutions.
In 2010 when a 5-year contract expired, Urin was in the front line to take over, along with opera singer Yuri Laptev. Iksanov, however, resisted, and his contract was extended.
Iksanov has presided over the theatre since September 2000, overseeing the appointment of Sergei Filin as director of the ballet company, and the subsequent scandals over the last months, dealing also with the public fury of principal dancer Nikolay Tsiskaridze, and the departure of the youngest stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. He also oversaw the restoration of the Bolshoi theatre; more scandals there too, with Tsiskaridze declaring that the theatre had been ruined in the process, saying it looked like a “Turkish hotel”.
The final straw seems to have been the acid-attack on Sergei Filin, robbing him of his sight, and the later arrest of first artist Pavel Dmitrichenko.
Makvala Kasrashvili, director of the Bolshoi Opera, said the number of scandals had proved too much:
Numerous events have happened recently, and Svetlana Zakharova’s refusal to dance Onegin played its role as well.
4 July saw Svetlana Zakharova walk out of the theatre after having been offered second cast for Cranko’s Onegin.
Iksanova’s resignation is only one of several unexpected personnel decisions by the Ministry of Culture over the last few days. The director of the Puskin Museum and the head of the Museum Boris Saltykov have been replaced this month.