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Vladimir Urin

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A new interview with Vladimir Urin was published today. Some highlights:

Sergei Filin has 70-75% vision in his left eye. Urin is keeping an arms-length attitude about the criminal proceedings, as well as to the matter of Pavel Dmitrichenko's supporters within the theater.

He's deeply sorry the Bolshoi did not hold on to Alexei Ratmansky.

Ivan Vasiliev will continue to appear with the Bolshoi as a guest artist, including as Spartacus. Natalia Osipova is too busy. Svetlana Lunkina remains on unpaid leave.

Despite a couple of guest appearances in the spring, there are no plans to invite Sergei Polunin to join the company. He's not opposed to guest appearances by Stanislavsky dancers at the Bolshoi and vice versa, but not in overlapping repertoire. (I'm guessing this implication of the two companies' comparability will ruffle feathers.)

There are discussions about reviving Yuri Grigorovich's Legend of Love.

He declines to comment on the matter of Nikolai Tsiskaridze returning to the Bolshoi, but considers it improper to reverse decisions made by his predecessor.

http://portal-kultura.ru/articles/theater/9112-gendirektor-bolshogo-teatra-vladimir-urin-sergey-filin-obeshchal-priekhat-na-sbor-truppy/

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I guess he didn't happen to say if Vasiliev would be dancing Spartacus for the live broadcast on Oct. 20?

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I heart Ismene Brown's blog!

Sept 28 entry - General Director Vladimir Urin notes that Sergei Filin is still on medical leave, and the conversation is continuing as to when he will return in a professional capacity. Plus, Mr Urin proposes 10-12 nights at cheap prices (my view - how he will prevent the touts from buying those tickets remains to be seen)

Sept 27 entry - The Minister of Culture met with Nikolai Tsiskaridze and while he denied him the directorship of the Vaganova Academy, he did reach out to Vladimir Urin to allow Tsiskaridze one final New Year's night (his birthday) to dance at the Bolshoi. (my view - can this guy just apply for a job that is *open* instead of trying to push other people out of hard-earned jobs???)

Sept 25 entry - Sergei Filin states he will "accept" Nikolai Tsiskaridze's return to the Bolshoi and Vladimir Urin's management style is compared to Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky. More information about the upcoming trial of the accused in Mr Filin's acid attack - the trial is set for October and expected to be a short procedural.

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Vladimir Urin sat down for an extended interview with the Dozhd TV channel, during which he was grilled by a panel of journalists and critics. Two long clips have been posted online, though the second one appears incomplete. In a nutshell:

- The members of the Bolshoi's Board of Trustees pay 250,000 euros annually for the privilege. He has not yet encountered an example of them trying to influence the choice of repertoire or artists.

- While he does not reconsider the decisions of past administrations, he did cancel a new operatic double bill of Mavra and Iolanta because its set design was too complex. It would have taken too long to put up (2 days), too long to take down (a full day) and would have required an intermission of at least 45 minutes.

- He was very reluctant to take the post of general director of the Bolshoi Theater and refused the offer several times. He feared the interference of powerful people. If ever he encounters it, he will resign. When asked whether Vladimir Putin seemed well versed in the Bolshoi's controversies, he noted that Putin spent most of their conversation listening.

- On some of the theater's controversial operatic productions, Urin does not believe the goal of art is to be provocative; he is interested in what is artistically justified. He admits that he does not like Dmitri Tcherniakov's production of Ruslan & Lyudmila, but likes some of Tcherniakov's other productions and believes that it's a matter of finding the right material for him. Since the Stanislavsky was the first theater in Russia to perform the works of Nacho Duato, Jiří Kylián and John Neumeier, Urin rejects the notion that he could be labelled an artistic conservative.

- Being on the job for only a few months, he is still figuring out what is really going on at the Bolshoi. Where allegations of corruption are concerned, he believes it is important to distinguish whether they are legitimate complaints or dirty battle tactics. If corruption does exist, and he concedes it's possible, it must be rooted out, though he didn't say how. He would not say much about Joy Womack's allegations, noting that he had never even met her.

- Urin notes that while Sergei Filin worked at the Stanislavsky there were never the sort of allegations that are being directed at him now. Filin made mistakes, but Urin puts this down to inexperience. But Urin was obviously very ticked off about the circumstances of Filin's departure from the Stanislavsky and his subsequent ("unethical") poaching of its dancers. When the two met in Germany, Urin used the opportunity to lay down the law about their working relationship going forward. Every decision will be discussed and cleared with Urin first.

- He wants a more transparent casting policy. He would like choreographers, stagers and opera directors to be able to audition all the theater's dancers and singers before making their casting choices, rather than have the theater offer a prepared list of suggestions, because this is what leads to charges of favoritism.

- When asked about the controversy that arose over the casting of Onegin, Urin says he heard various sides of the story, including Svetlana Zakharova's, but it was before his time, so he does not have a complete picture. In general he advocates being open, honest and sitting down and talking things out before conflicts get out of control. But this is not easy given the nature of artistic temperaments.

http://tvrain.ru/articles/vladimir_urin_ob_ultimatume_sergeju_filinu_ob_oblake_nenavisti_vokrug_nikolaja_tsiskaridze_i_o_tom_pochemu_ne_hotel_byt_direktorom_bolshogo_teatra_chast_1-357581/

http://tvrain.ru/articles/vladimir_urin_moe_naznachenie_bylo_ne_samym_luchshim_dnem_v_zhizni_filina-357583/

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I don't know how I missed this update, but a belated many thanks, volcanohunter :flowers:

Urin sounds like he would be a great boss.

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This is relevant to the theater as a whole. Vassily Sinaisky, music director and chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theater, has resigned, two weeks prior to the premiere of a new production of Don Carlo, which he was to conduct. As of tomorrow he will no longer be employed by the theater. The Bolshoi sent out an e-mail with the information minutes ago and has posted it on the Russian version of its news feed.

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That does not sound good. The Bolshoi Opera, unlike the Mariinsky Opera, is a jewel.

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Bolshoi chief pledges 'transparency' at troubled theatre

"The issue is to create the maximum transparency, especially in the distribution of roles," he said.

Given the Bolshoi's giant 1,000-strong troupe, there will always be disgruntled stars, he said, while conceding that the current situation was extreme.

"When 70 percent of people are upset and 30 percent who are close to the management are happy, that is not normal."

That bad?

http://news.yahoo.com/bolshoi-chief-pledges-39-transparency-39-troubled-theatre-140149701.html

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Bolshoi chief pledges 'transparency' at troubled theatre

"The issue is to create the maximum transparency, especially in the distribution of roles," he said.

Given the Bolshoi's giant 1,000-strong troupe, there will always be disgruntled stars, he said, while conceding that the current situation was extreme.

"When 70 percent of people are upset and 30 percent who are close to the management are happy, that is not normal."

That bad?

http://news.yahoo.com/bolshoi-chief-pledges-39-transparency-39-troubled-theatre-140149701.html

If the director himself is saying that, probably yes. For me even more interesting is that not a single response on the forum followed. Nobody concerned about 70 percent of artists upset with the artistic management at Bolshoi?

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Bolshoi chief pledges 'transparency' at troubled theatre

"The issue is to create the maximum transparency, especially in the distribution of roles," he said.

Given the Bolshoi's giant 1,000-strong troupe, there will always be disgruntled stars, he said, while conceding that the current situation was extreme.

"When 70 percent of people are upset and 30 percent who are close to the management are happy, that is not normal."

That bad?

http://news.yahoo.com/bolshoi-chief-pledges-39-transparency-39-troubled-theatre-140149701.html

If the director himself is saying that, probably yes. For me even more interesting is that not a single response on the forum followed. Nobody concerned about 70 percent of artists upset with the artistic management at Bolshoi?

It may be we were all feeling a little "Bolshoi scandal" fatigue dry.png ...But also, speaking for myself, I felt and feel quite unsure how to interpret the comments -- or what the artistic stakes exactly are. Is it about casting fairness? Or Filin's taste in choreography? I've heard gossip and opinions but nothing I trust on a purely "artistic" front. I will say that I am appalled at how badly the dancers in both of the top Russian companies are paid. That seems to me a genuinely pressing and depressing problem even with what I understand are recent improvements in the Bolshoi contract under Urin's leadership.

At this point, mostly I am eager to SEE the company for myself this July when they come to New York.

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Regarding the pay level, keep in mind that the "majors" are supposed to provide apartments / housing for the dancers. This would be the equivalent of appx $1500-2000 / month. So if the average salary at Bolshoi is $2000 / month, add in the apartment subsidy and the dancer is really living at the U.S. standard of $35,000 - 44,000 per year.

However, as the public fiasco with Joy Womack showed; the Bolshoi administration wasn't really paying the dancers what they said was a "normal" salary. So there's that to chew on. Hopefully the new contract makes things better (more stable) for the artists.

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It may be we were all feeling a little "Bolshoi scandal" fatigue dry.png ...But also, speaking for myself, I felt and feel quite unsure how to interpret the comments -- or what the artistic stakes exactly are. Is it about casting fairness?

Yes, the fact that Filin surrounded himself with a small number of "his artists" to the exclusion of others.

A big thing has been announced yesterday and was covered very extensively in today's edition of the newspaper Труд (Labor). A total overhaul of the policies governing employment of artists at the Bolshoi, aiming at making all decisions concerning artists transparent, and especially so the casting process. Preparation of the corresponding document began in January, and it was approved on June 30 by a popular vote after 5 hours of debates.

This is really big news.

The article is essentially a transcript of the long conversation held by Urin with journalists in presence of the artists who, like primaballerina Maria Alexandrova, were actively involved in preparing the document.

In the light of the new policies the question arose whether Urin "would not be dismissing any of the current artistic directors?" to which Urin said "No", and then is several sentences he is reported to have been talking in approving terms about the work done by the Musical Director, Tugan Sokhiev, appointed just 5 months ago. Concerning Sergei Filin he had just one thing to say: "he didn't see grounds for terminating Filin's contract before its expiration."

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Reports from the Russian press spanning artistic directors said that the directives for how much the company toured and performed came from a higher ministry, a person higher than Urin's level, let alone Filin's.

If the government(s) funded the labor budget for the company at the level needed to allow its dancers to be paid well enough to live in one of the most expensive cities on the planet, and the discretionary arts "project" budget hadn't been needed for wages, any bonus fund managed by the AD would not determine who could earn a living wage.

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Quite logical. Bolshoi is not just a "state owned company", during Soviet times it was directly under the wings of the Soviet government and not much has changed since then. I remember Maximova saying after the collapse of Soviet Union that the artists of the Bolshoi like her were being treated as serfs to the state without any personal freedom whose fates and even their private life were decided by the government, so at least this has changed, the Bolshoi remains, however, an institution of special concern to the Russian government. In Russia this is an axiom repeated ad nauseam.

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