Has Roman Abramovich saved the Nureyev ballet?

Has Roman Abramovich saved the Nureyev ballet?
The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Image: Alexey Vikhrov under a CC licence

28 July 2017

Russian newspaper Kommersant have reported that the Nureyev ballet premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre, cancelled at the last minute several weeks ago, may still go ahead this year after Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich intervened.

Nureyev was set to premiere at the beginning of July, though the Bolshoi pulled it at the last minute, suggesting that the troupe were not ready. The theatre’s chief conductor Tugan Sokhiyev corroborated the official explanation, telling the Finnish outlet Helsingin Sanomat, “As far as I know, the project had been rehearsed in a studio and it was complicated to move it to the big stage.”

However, the cancellation in early July immediately drew condemnation from the theatre world, after the media circulated reports that Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s Culture Minister, might have been behind the decision, and that the ballet’s treatment of Nureyev’s open homosexuality may have had something to do with the cancellation. To add further intrigue, the ballet’s director, Kirill Serebrennikov, was detained and called in for questioning only a few months prior, and is a witness in an ongoing embezzlement case that many believe is politically motivated.

While the Bolshoi announced that the new premiere would take place in May 2018, an unidentified source cited by Kommersant has suggested it could take place as soon as December. Although this is unconfirmed, the source maintains that this acceleration may be down to the intervention of Roman Abramovich, a member of the Bolshoi’s Board of Trustees and a close ally of Vladimir Putin, who reportedly attended the ballet’s final rehearsal.

Source: Moscow Times