The new head of the Bolshoi Theatre, Vladimir Urin, has outlined some of his intentions for the theatre's future, after two months into the job.
He talked about creating a group of house singers, about Filin, Ratmansky, Tsiskaridze, and about the Bolshoi's tarnished image with “Rossiyskaya Gazeta“. Urin has a vision for the future of the theatre.
I will be in the audience almost every night and see all the performances several times so that I can see all the casts, all the artists. Only then can I see where we should go next, and what the challenges are that we face.
When a theatre becomes a factory for churning out performance after performance, there is a serious problem. Quality is everything. I know theatres which gather together a brilliant team of singers for the premiére, get good reviews, but then you go and see the 5th or 6th performance and wish that you hadn't.
I would really like to reduce the influx of guest singers – whether Russian or elsewhere – because endless casts, who arrive a only week before performances, can destroy the artistic quality of a production that maybe a director took 2 months to create. This approach is for the concert platform not a theatre.
On opera and ballet soloists
We must build up a body of soloists, and that is a long process, and the opera must have its own personality. When we talk about the ballet of the Bolshoi Theatre, its “individuality” is noted: the style of Zakharova is very different from that of Shipulina or Alexandrova. We can list our top dancers, and we should be able to do the same in the opera.
On choosing Sergei Filin to head the ballet at the Stanislavsky Theatre?
I saw that he had organizational skills, because being a performer is a different profession. A director of a company needs to know how to work with people, and it can be tough and demanding.
The artistic director must have creative skills, and an understanding of how to build a company's future. It's not just about choosing a choreographer, but understanding why. Does he fit with the artistic position of the theatre? It is very important that a director has a meaningful understanding of where the company is heading. Why do you need these dancers? Am I looking for personalities or more uniform dancers?
Of course, we had conflicts with Sergei, but we sat down and discussed them. In the third year of working together, we understood each other very well. He created many interesting things in the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre, and then here at the Bolshoi. Now we are discussing how we will continue to work together. At the moment his health is improving, but the doctors need to give him permission to work. I just wish to to see Sergei fully recovered and back at work in this theatre.
On the Bolshoi's tarnished image
That image can be changed, it is changing, if you filter out all the bias that exists around the Bolshoi Theatre at this time. If journalists see that there exists a creative atmosphere which results in exciting performances, the conflicts will disappear.
Alexei chose to step down as artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, but I would be sorry not to see future collaborations. Alexei was here to rehearse some new soloists in their roles, and I told him that I'd like to continuing working with him as a great choreographer.
We are now discussing the possibility for Nikolai Tsiskaridze to give performances at the theatre. I would like to see him finish his career at the Bolshoi Theatre in civilized way and say good-bye to the stage and the the audience. Similar things happen in other theatres, and I like the idea. I hope that it will be possible. There is still not a final decision; we need to speak about some organizational issues.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.