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Anatoly Iksanov fired?

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According to Russian news sources, Iksanov has been fired from his post as General Director of The Bolshoi. So far I haven't seen any reasons given for his dismissal.

http://izvestia.ru/news/553322

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It was noted that when Nikolai Tsiskaridze appeared at the Bakhrushin Theatrical Museum last week he seemed to be in a very good mood and strangely undistressed about his dismissal from the Bolshoi. A few journalists speculated that he must have known something everyone else did not.

http://www.ng.ru/week/2013-07-07/7_culture.html

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According to Russian news sources, Iksanov has been fired from his post as General Director of The Bolshoi. So far I haven't seen any reasons given for his dismissal.

http://izvestia.ru/news/553322

I hope this leads to a real audit of the Bolshoi renovation financials and it won't be long until the main culprits are behind bars. It's also interesting to see whether or not Tsiskaridze is rehired, what happens to the Onegin casting schedule, in what capacity (if any) Filin returns after his recovery, etc., etc. The Bolshoi is such a horrible mess at this point that I almost feel sorry for whoever replaces Iksanov (some Russian news sources mention the director of the Stanislavsky theater Urin).

P.S. And, of course, it's pretty hard to believe that Iksanov's removal immediately following a conflict with an ex-MP and member of the ruling party Svetlana Zakharova is just a coincidence.

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It was noted that when Nikolai Tsiskaridze appeared at the Bakhrushin Theatrical Museum last week he seemed to be in a very good mood and strangely undistressed about his dismissal from the Bolshoi. A few journalists speculated that he must have known something everyone else did not.

http://www.ng.ru/week/2013-07-07/7_culture.html

Perhaps he felt like an enormous gorilla had been removed from his back. ;)

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According to Russian news sources, Iksanov has been fired from his post as General Director of The Bolshoi. So far I haven't seen any reasons given for his dismissal.

http://izvestia.ru/news/553322

I hope this leads to a real audit of the Bolshoi renovation financials and it won't be long until the main culprits are behind bars. It's also interesting to see whether or not Tsiskaridze is rehired, what happens to the Onegin casting schedule, in what capacity (if any) Filin returns after his recovery, etc., etc. The Bolshoi is such a horrible mess at this point that I almost feel sorry for whoever replaces Iksanov (some Russian news sources mention the director of the Stanislavsky theater Urin).

P.S. And, of course, it's pretty hard to believe that Iksanov's removal immediately following a conflict with an ex-MP and member of the ruling party Svetlana Zakharova is just a coincidence.

"I'm surprised; but I haven't been taken by surprise." Sir Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)

I'm ITA with you Waelsung. She may be influential backstage, but personally I don't think Zakharova is that swift -despite the fact that she was one of the faces of the United Russia Party and an MP. Who would dare want the post of General Director of the Bolshoi Theatre? Who would dare forward their CV? Whoever is on the short list to replace Iksanov I for one am beg.gif that it isn't Maestro Gergiev ...(or his Mini Me).

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The second article mentions that Mikhail Messerer has signed a contract through 2017 to be AD at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, and is considering hiring Anzhelina Vorontsov (the young blonde protege of Nikolai Tsiskaridze). Also, Basil Barkhatov has been hired at the "Mikh" as AD for opera.

http://www.ng.ru/week/2013-07-07/7_culture.html

I'm not sure how reliable this source is? Can anyone confirm? For all we know, this link is Russia's Daily Mail)

Machine Translation:

The most sensational in this series - the appointment of the Opera Company artistic director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg Basil Barkhatov.
According to the director of the theater Vladimir Kehman, the proposal he made Barkhatov two years ago, but now the director comes to the corps, having experience at the Mikhailovsky - just last Saturday sang the premiere of "The Flying Dutchman". Having started briskly and cheerfully - after the debut of "Helikon-Opera", with just gitisovskoy bench - Velvet immediately began to put the Mariinsky Theatre, was invited by Valery Gergiev (well, or at the theater and can not be), he recent years caused a less optimistic. His "Die Fledermaus" at the Bolshoi criticized, perhaps, not in unison, but many - hard. But now, apparently before the director opened up new strategic spaces.
There, in St. Michael, appeared last week and the new artistic director of the ballet - and everyone in the theater is also a well-known Mikhail Messerer. Some time ago, he has led the Mikhailovsky Ballet, then at some time lost to this honorable mission Nacho Duato and voila - all returned to their former places.
However, Messerer instantly became famous sensational statement: the Mikhailovsky Theatre ready to take on the work of Angelina Vorontsov, was fired from the Bolshoi Theatre pupil of Nikolai Tsiskaridze - all over the leaves, and the Mikhailovsky Theatre Vladimir Kehman personally do not compete with the Mariinsky (which would make more sense), but only with Big (the Bolshoi). The contract with Messerer signed before 2017, news agencies reported, but as it happened - life, as they say, will tell.

I've always thought that "bolshoi" should be more justly be translated as "grand" rather than "big". Theatres in the west generally use the term "grand" - as in "grand jete"

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Ismene Brown tweeted the news:

#Bolshoi bloodletting contd: general director Iksanov out, Stanislavsky chief Urin takes over. Gergiev ws offered, but too dictatorial. Mfl

According to various Internet slang sources "MFL" means "Marked for later."

Here is Vladimir Urin's bio from the Stanislavsky Theatre website:

http://www.stanmus.com/person.html?id=88

He was appointed General Director in 1995, which includes the time when Filin was AD of the ballet. He has a lot of theater background and experience, and I wonder if this will impact the productions at the Bolshoi Opera.

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ITAR-TASS sources in the Ministry of Culture say that three possible candidates other than Urin include former Minister of Culture Mikhail Shvydkoy, Bolshoi Trustee Alexander Budberg and Vladimir Vasiliev, whom Iksanov had replaced 13 years ago.

http://www.itar-tass.com/c1/800734.html

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That's too bad: I thought they had moved quickly to avoid a power vacuum.

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Izvestia now says Vladimir Urin is the replacement. He is the current CEO of the Musical Theater of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko

http://izvestia.ru/news/553322

There is a longer story about this news, Anatoly Ixanov followed Tsiskaridze, on another page.

http://izvestia.ru/news/553326

In the story Urin, Filin, Zakharova, Tsiskaridze, Volochkova, … are all mentioned. The writer also lauds Ixanov for building creative art-programs. (Using Google translator, the story is readable.)

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There are a couple of interesting details in that story. First, that Valery Gergiev was supposedly offered directorship of the Bolshoi, and he was willing to take it, on the condition that he could also keep his post at the Mariinsky. (Good Lord.) Secondly, that people within the Bolshoi were genuinely surprised by the suddenness of the decision to fire Iksanov. In particular, Boris Akimov questions the wisdom of making such a change on the eve of the premiere of Onegin and the Bolshoi's London tour.

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Using machine translations (Google and bing), I'm still not sure I understand the reference to Zahkarova, because I thought it was the Cranko stagers who decided on whether and when Zakharova would dance Tatiana, with Filin's stamp of approval.

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Perhaps the suggestion is that Iksanov should not have allowed the situation to reach the point of Zakharova demonstratively leaving the production. The next paragraph notes that whatever conflicts may exist within the Stanislavsky, Urin manages to keep them under wraps.

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I'm not sure what would have kept Zakharova in the production: either the Cranko people wanted Zakharova for the first performance of the role or they didn't. It seems that the only option Iksanov would have had was to overrule the Cranko people, in which case they could leave and take the ballet with them.

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I think we can read some tea leaves here - Gergiev was offered the position first - keep in mind that he is something of a dictator at the Mariinsky and does not suffer dissent gladly. He is a friend of Vladimir Putin (also someone who does not suffer dissent gladly). I think Putin and his advisors want to put a dictator in place at the Bolshoi, to stop the ongoing bad press, and return to serving the glory of Russia with positive press reports of the ballet.

I expect Mr Urine will be a mover behind the scenes to prevent a second Tsiskaridze type of press manipulation. Keep in mind that his current theatre has been doing some very interesting things: signing some great dancers, presenting Mayerling, Petit's Coppelia, etc. Hopefully he will continue to promote new forms of art at the Bolshoi.

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If The Powers That Be (from above) wanted Tsiskaridze shut down, in my opinion, they would have forced the issue and installed their dictator when Iksanov showed he was not preparing to nip Tsiskaridze in the bud years ago.

We don't know yet that they don't want Tsiskaridze reinstated: the only official info we have so far is that they don't want him to be General Director of the Bolshoi. Anton Korsakov stated in an interview (thanks to a translation by volcanohunter):

- What do you think of Nikolai Tsiskaridze's dismissal?

- In light of recent events it's an absolutely normal [or perhaps 'forseeable'] situation. For me personally this dismissal is conditional, because Kolya is the irreplaceable [literally: 'unoverthrowable'] idol of the Bolshoi.

With Iksanov gone, they can come up with some public dance about the terms, etc. if they want Tsiskaridze back, just like they did with Grigorovich, but perhaps with some behind-the-scenes carrot and stick, and if they don't want him back, having Iksanov doing the dirty work for the new General Director before they got rid of him is clever management and could have been part of the endgame for Iksanov.

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According to this article, it sounds like it's unlikely that Tsiskaridze will return.

Quote: (machine translation)

At the Bolshoi Theatre, where on July 9 under new management , no discussion about returning to the company Nikolai Tsiskaridze. This was stated by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Vladimir Medina.

The relevant question "Interfax ", he replied:" No, it was not discussed, and I believe, will not be discussed. "

http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1102450&cid=520

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The handover looked very civilized.

http://izvestia.ru/news/553359

Mikhail Lavrovsky had some interesting things to say.

"It's difficult for me to say why Anatoly Iksanov was dismissed just now. During the 13 years of his directorship of the Bolshoi Theater I had no serious disagreements with him. And as an actor I can agree with him in some things and disagree about others.

"But to this day there are things that I cannot understand, for example, why dancers such as Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova were forced to leave the theater. Good artists cannot be thrown away, regardless of whether you like them or not. Tastes are the personal matter of the leadership, but the Bolshoi Theater is the face of our country.

"I do not understand why a star like Tsiskaridze was dismissed. I do not understand why Zakharova is not performing in Onegin. I'm not saying that Iksanov was directly responsible for all these episodes, but they all happened on his watch.

"Iksanov is a good administrator. He engages in questions of management and does not understand anything about opera or choreography or the orchestra. Because the director cannot be the artistic face of the theater.

"I know Mr Urin from his good side; he is a worthy person and has won a high office on merit. However, how he will behave from here is unknown. Currently the situation is complicated because we are run by a Board of Trustees. They are good people; deep gratitude to them for giving us money, but they are not professionals. The Board of Trustees cannot issue orders about who is to dance and who isn't. If Urin is somehow able to correct this situation, everything will be alright.

"I hope for the best. Vladimir Georgievich [urin] is a strong person, and if he does not fall under someone's influence and behaves himself correctly, I think he will become a good director. As an administrator, in any case."

http://izvestia.ru/news/553382

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Interesting and frightening: he seems to be saying that once a dancer becomes a star and the face of the theater, he or she should be dictating the terms of what s/he'll dance and that his or her behavior within the theater should be irrelevant. It's like the way professional athletes are treated in the US.

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hmmm....maybe that is what Mikhail Lavrovsky meant. But I took it to mean he felt the talents of Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova were being wasted (particularly in her case - no Giselle, Odette/Odile, etc). Nikolai Tsiskaridze is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish, because of his unprofessional running commentary.

Perhaps Anatoly Iksanov never really touched the AD casting decision making, which would also be the case at a western company. However, if there is overt discrimination, blackmail, threats, or abusive language against a particular dancer, then the CEO should step in and discuss it with the AD. I am not sure that Mr Iksanov could have prevented all the corruption related to construction at the theatre. Another ministry was also supervising the process. And some of the expenses were legitimate. Once you open up a wall - you don't know what you'll find behind it and it seems that the structure of the theatre was standing up due to force of habit more than solid foundations underneath. Indeed, if Mr Iksanov had tried to intervene in the construction industry, he could have easily gone permanently missing (think Jimmy Hoffa).

If anyone has a gorilla off of his back today, it is probably Mr Iksanov. I do hope for the best with Mr Urin. The ballet company needs a strong leader, and right now the leadership is in flux with a blind AD undergoing further treatment in Germany, and an interim AD who must get his approval on every decision.

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On the other hand, the oligarchs on the Board of Trustees shouldn't be in the position of dictating anything either.

http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/partners/sovet/

Did the oligarchs on the Board of Trustees drive out Osipova and Vasiliev? I thought they were courted by a theater director offering them big salaries, apartments, and unlimited guesting opportunities and schedule flexibility. Was it the Board of Directors, rather than Burlaka, who insisted that Osipova's priorities should be the Bolshoi tour to DC with "Le Corsaire" instead of "La Sylphide" with ABT, for which she had been announced months before? Did the oligarchs on the Board of Trustees determine that Zakharova didn't meet the requirements to dance opening night of Tatiana? I'm not quite sure what the oligarchs on the Board of Trustees were supposed to have done about Tsiskaridze.

"The Bolshoi Theatre Board of Trustees was set up in 2001 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Moscow and on instructions from the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation." Iksanov didn't create it. What was Iksanov supposed to do about them, and their influence and decisions? That's like holding him responsible for the overruns of the theater reconstruction, when he didn't make the contracts, didn't have a choice of contractors, and where decisions were made within the government. (Sounds like the life of a project manager to me.)

There's plenty crazy about the way the Bolshoi is structure and run, and one could argue that Iksanov did not ultimately pass the "little of the authority and all of the responsibility" test, but that doesn't explain Lavrovsky's disregard for the behavior of the artists he cites.

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If it's true that the Board is giving artistic orders, as Lavrovsky suggests, then it's a serious problem. He isn't blaming the Trustees for Osipova, Vasiliev, Tsiskaridze or Zakharova. But I think he is saying that Iksanov did not stand up to the Board when they started interfering in artistic matters, and he seems to be suggesting that Iksanov was not able to keep problems between dancers and the leadership in check.

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The way the "job description" for the board is written, it is their responsibility to interfere in artistic matters:

The Board’s priority tasks are to attract sources of finance from the private sector, assist the Bolshoi Theatre in the presentation of new productions, the organization of tours, the recruitment of stars and talented young soloists, and likewise to provide assistance in improving the Theatre's systems of management, finance and the day-to-day running of the Theatre.

While I think the Board should be limited to financial oversight and operations and not be involved in artistic decisions, that's not only the de facto reality but the de jure reality. I think expecting Iksanov to keep the Board from doing its job and reaching its tentacles into other artistic areas is like expecting a the president of a public university to stand up to the Justice Department (to use a US analogy).

Why anyone wants the job unless they, like Lyndon Johnson, have dirt on everyone and have critical sums of money to use as bait and withdraw like a lash, is beyond me.

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