The Bolshoi Theatre told reporters today that Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova’s decision to leave the company and join the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg was not helping their last minute preparations for Sunday’s broadcast of The Sleeping Beauty. The ballet will be transmitted in high-definition to cinemas around the world from the newly inaugurated theatre. Artistic director Sergei Filin said,
I am sorry that these events have come on the eve of our production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. This has hindered us a little from concentrating on our work.”
Osipova and Vasiliev announced earlier this week that they were joining the Mikhailovsky Theatre which, after the arrival of choreographer Nacho Duato, is starting to modify its old-fashioned image, and move towards contemporary ballet. The Mikhailovsky Theatre started getting large injections of cash after businessman Vladimir Kekhman became its director in 2007. It has already enticed Leonid Sarafanov away from the Mariinsky earlier this year.
AFP reported that Filin said Kekhman had phoned him this week and bluntly warned that Vasiliev and Osipova would never be allowed to perform at the Bolshoi again if it made accusations against the Mikhailovsky. It added that rumours have been circulating in the Russian press that “Osipova – seen by many critics as among the very greatest performing ballerinas alive – was mightily offended to have been excluded from the cast for ‘Sleeping Beauty’.”
Filin told reporters that ex-director of the Bolshoi, Yuri Grigorovich, who is reviving the production, chose the cast. Being that the ballerina who will dance Aurora is Svetlana Zakharova, maybe the most famous ballerina dancing today, it certainly wasn’t a perverse decision.