Russian theatre drops directors who spoke out against Ukraine war | Russia-Ukraine war News

The famous Bolshoi Theater in Moscow did not give an official reason for the cancellation of two long-awaited performances.

The famous Russian Bolshoi Theater has abruptly canceled a series of performances by two directors, both of whom spoke out against the war in Ukraine.

The theater gave no official reason for the cancellation of productions of Timofey Kuliabin’s opera Don Pasquale and Kirill Serebrennikov’s ballet Nureyev.

Kuliabin used his Instagram account to express solidarity with Ukraine and mocked Russia’s description of its actions there that omitted references to the war. In one post, he showed a mocking version of the cover of Leo Tolstoy’s book War and Peace, replacing the first word of the title with “Special Operation” – a term used by the Kremlin. to describe the invasion.

Similarly, Serebrennikov told France 24 in an interview last month that “it is natural for Russia to start the war,” and that it is breaking his heart.

“It’s war, it’s murder, it’s the worst [that] could happen to civilization, to humanity… It’s a humanitarian disaster, it’s rivers of blood,” he said.

Both directors are currently outside Russia.

In March, Serebrennikov was allowed to leave Russia, where he was found guilty in 2020 embezzlement of funds at Moscow’s Gogol Central Theater. His supporters said the conviction was in retaliation for his criticism of authoritarianism and homophobia under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The replacement of the two shows with The Barber of Seville and Spartacus, two age-old themes in Bolshoi’s repertoire, attracted hundreds of mostly critical online comments from ticket holders. Many people ask in vain to know the reason for the cancellation.

“What a disrespect to the audience and the artist!” one woman, Valeria, wrote on Bolshoi’s Telegram channel.

There was particular outrage at Serebrennikov’s cancellation of Nureyev, a controversial production premiered at Bolshoi in 2017.

The story of dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who defected to the West in 1961, including a cuddling scene with his gay lover tested the Kremlin’s tolerance for what it called “propaganda” gay”.

The Bolshoi Theater, considered one of the main attractions of Moscow, was opened on October 20, 1856, on the day of the coronation of Tsar Alexander II.

Several dancers have left the Bolshoi in recent weeks, including prima ballerina Olga Smirnovawho joined the Dutch National Ballet after criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Music Director of Bolshoi Theater and Conductor Tugan Sokhiev announced his resignation in March, saying he felt pressured by calls to take a stance on the war in Ukraine.

Many current stars of the Russian stage have refused to criticize the invasion of Ukraine, including renowned conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Anna Netrebko, and have been stripped of their jobs in the West or canceled tours. to act.

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