PetitDi

Tsis­karidze & Lopatk­ina at the Vag­an­ova Bal­let Academy

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More curious, then, is Gergiev's role heading the orchestras of other major cities internationally. What does that say about Putin or Russia?

Tamicute, your statement about taking out rival garbage collectors for political favors and getting a piece of the pie is even more telling than the other words you have used to explain Gergiev's treatment of the ballet, and the absence of input by the ballet in designing the new buildings.

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Puppytreats wrote:

More curious, then, is Gergiev's role heading the orchestras of other major cities internationally.

Exactly. What is the end game? How does a former staff conductor become General Director of one (1) Theatre

and morph into Earth's unofficial Czar of Music? How could that happen? Think about that. Might I suggest that

other superior conductors of the past and present didn't demand, nor expect the kind of outsize recognition

and adulation that this man does. It seems that having Gergiev at the podium is compulsory.

I'm ITA with Tamicute's comments because in today's Russia, money walks, talks, dances, wins competitions & government titles - and gets people fired. For now, this is a done deal regardless of the outcry. Whatever the

outcome of this new arrangement, the consequences for the Vaganova Academy and the Mariinsky Ballet

(in particular) will be laid at the feet of those who put all of these events in motion in the first place.

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More curious, then, is Gergiev's role heading the orchestras of other major cities internationally. What does that say about Putin or Russia?

Tamicute, your statement about taking out rival garbage collectors for political favors and getting a piece of the pie is even more telling than the other words you have used to explain Gergiev's treatment of the ballet, and the absence of input by the ballet in designing the new buildings.

Whatever one thinks of Gergiev, when the Soviet Union dissolved, Gergiev not only went west to earn a living, but he plowed some of that money back into the Mariinsky. If he hadn't driven the effort to privatize the Mariinsky quickly, and if he hadn't spent huge amounts of time fund-raising, there might not be much of a Mariinsky to discuss now. Russian figure skating was gutted for 15-20 years, and only the athletes who started in the Soviet Era were successful until recently. With few exceptions, the most successful Soviet era coaches came to the US to train their skaters, to be able to earn a living and for decent ice conditions.

Whatever one might think of his conducting, almost every conductor is a staff conductor at one time or another. Leonard Bernstein was a staff conductor. James Levine was a staff conductor.

It also makes little intuitive sense for Gergiev to starve the Mariinsky Ballet in any way if anyone was making money off of it, since it's the cash cow that funds everything else. It makes business sense to make cuts and "starve" non-profitable ventures.

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More curious, then, is Gergiev's role heading the orchestras of other major cities internationally. What does that say about Putin or Russia?

Tamicute, your statement about taking out rival garbage collectors for political favors and getting a piece of the pie is even more telling than the other words you have used to explain Gergiev's treatment of the ballet, and the absence of input by the ballet in designing the new buildings.

Whatever one thinks of Gergiev, when the Soviet Union dissolved, Gergiev not only went west to earn a living, but he plowed some of that money back into the Mariinsky. If he hadn't driven the effort to privatize the Mariinsky quickly, and if he hadn't spent huge amounts of time fund-raising, there might not be much of a Mariinsky to discuss now. Russian figure skating was gutted for 15-20 years, and only the athletes who started in the Soviet Era were successful until recently. With few exceptions, the most successful Soviet era coaches came to the US to train their skaters, to be able to earn a living and for decent ice conditions.

Whatever one might think of his conducting, almost every conductor is a staff conductor at one time or another. Leonard Bernstein was a staff conductor. James Levine was a staff conductor.

It also makes little intuitive sense for Gergiev to starve the Mariinsky Ballet in any way if anyone was making money off of it, since it's the cash cow that funds everything else. It makes business sense to make cuts and "starve" non-profitable ventures.

Maestro Gergiev knows diddly about classical ballet, doesn't care about it, then turns around and complains that the artistic level and quality of Vaganova graduates is inadequate. But, it's Yuri Fateev, his appointee who hires the graduates (who wish to join the company). Fateev decides which ones will be the standard bearers that reflect his taste. Then, in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, Gergiev goes on to make seismic and sweeping decisions which could adversely effect the future of the Academy and the company he is ultimately responsible for. Gergiev has gone on record in Western and Russian media over the years stating that he's no ballet expert and has only perfunctory knowledge of it. What's wrong with this picture? Gergiev's and the Mariinsky Ballet's current condition is akin to a hamster on a wheel.

Everyone has to start somewhere. However, unlike Gergiev, Bernstein & Levine (and others of their stature), weren't appointed, (in Leonard's case, to his penultimate position), nor Levine (currently), by a Congress or a President. Nor did they make or temper their decisions for their institutions on that basis as Gergiev does for his institution. In Russia, (and everywhere else), he (or she) who has the deepest pockets runs the show and makes the rules. It's also 'who you know and how you know them.' Why did all of this happen? Follow the money. I agree with you on your last point. If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates to everyone once and for all what an exceptional bundler/politician/fundraiser Gergiev really is.

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I can't quote Buddy from this device, but reading his question was reminded of Napoleon's influence on the Paris Opera Ballet...

"Napoleon took control of the company in 1802 and with the declaration of the French Empire in 1804 renamed the company the Académie Impériale de Musique." ~ Wikipedia's Paris Opera entry

Yes, and then the Prussians stabled their horses in the opera house when they got to Paris.

I think what we'd all like is a general culture that recognized the importance of the arts, and also recognized the need to let the artists make the plans.

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The Kennedy Center Board appoints the President of the Kennedy Center, which is the closest thing we have in the US. The majority of board members are appointed by the President of the United States. Other ex officio members are designated by acts of Congress. Were President Obama to decide to depose Michael Kaiser and appoint James Levine in his stead, I suppose he could do so by stacking the Board with people who would vote his way. If it weren't for a specific Cultural Ministry director immediately after the Russian Revolution, the Vaganova Academy and the Mariinsky Theatre would have been liquidated.

It's not a matter of how the heads of institutions are chosen that is uniformly good or evil: it's the people involved. If Iksanov, for example, had decided to interfere in artistic matters at the Bolshoi, he had every right to override Filin and the head of the opera. Instead, he chose to stick to his areas of expertise and let the professionals handle the artistic sides.

Gergiev may know nothing about the ballet, but, to give another sports example, there is an International Skating Union (ISU) that is recognized by the Olympics bureaucracy as the one voice of figure skating and speed skating. The long-time head of the ISU is from the speed-skating side, and he took the post Kerrigan knee-bash TV revenue and plowed a lot of it into developing speed skating. Regardless of who is the head of the ISU, he or she is either coming from figure skating or speed skating; how he or she handles the job isn't by definition dictated by how much expertise he or she has in the other side.

The same is true of the Mariinsky: Gergiev is an opera guy running the opera and the ballet. I agree that he's making a mess of the ballet; his approach is a colonial/corporate raider style, which is to drain the resources without nourishing them. However, as long as there are parents will to spend huge amounts of money to train their students at the school, and there are dancers lining up and being nourished by the work and the prestige, why would he stop?

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I think you have to keep the term "prestige" in mind when dealing with Vladimir Putin. He loves anything prestigious that gilds his Russian Lily. So a conductor who is lauded abroad is his friend. He spent millions to bring the Figure Skating World Championships to Moscow when Tokyo was in doubt after the Fukishima nuclear power plant crisis. He is spending $50 billion (or more) on the Sochi Olympics. The ministers in his administration, and the private / public figures who surround him know this and vie for similar types of prestige. So the former Energy Minister who is now an oil/gas billionaire baron has a wife who is besties with Nikolai Tsiskaridze. She is not exercising her influence because she truly believes Tsis is the shining light that will bring the Bolshoi, Mariinsky or Vagonova Academy to better things. Rather these things are "brand names" for her - similar to owning the Gucci brand.

This happens in the west as well, but on a smaller scale. The Billionaires get involved (NYCB, Ballet San Jose, etc) without the government influence. People are mad for power and gilding themselves with special titles, etc.

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However, as long as there are parents will to spend huge amounts of money to train their students at the school, and there are dancers lining up and being nourished by the work and the prestige, why would he stop?

Vaganova has always been distinctly separate from Mariinsky Ballet. If Vinogradov ever complained about the quality of dancers being produced at Vaganova, both Sergeyev and Dudinskya would have given him hell. In the past, the director was always a businessman such as Kekhman and Iskanov, and not another arts person, such as Gergiev. My opinion is that the director of a major theater in Russia should be a businessman as it always has been, however, if anyone from the arts was qualified to be director of Mariinsky Ballet, it would have to come from the pride and joy of the theater, their main money maker, BALLET. Definitely not a conductor with no training in business and no knowledge regarding the main money maker, ballet. As Gergiev has proved, he subordinates ballet grossly to opera and orchestra and as Asylmuratova said 18 days before Tsiskaridze was appointed, opera had 8 premieres last year and ballet gets nothing and Gergiev's excuse is that there is no money for ballet productions. Ballet makes more money than the orchestra and opera combined and that is easy to recognize based on ticket prices and seats sold. Ballet prices are much more expensive and ballet seats sell much more than opera and orchestra.

While, Gergiev does not have money to produce ballets, he is constantly finding money to build up the Stradivarius collection and his Stradivari Ensemble is performing now. A director of a theater should be promoting his main asset, but he bleeds it and uses funds to help the orchestra and opera. By any North American and European business standpoint, Gergiev should have been removed from being director, many years ago. It is his close friendship with Putin that allows Gergiev to keep his job and rob (yes rob, not divert) the ballet company of all it's income production.

Going back to Gergiev's interference with Vaganova, he has made statements which are definitely not true, namely that Vaganova is not producing the talent, when under Asylmuratova, the amount of recent talent is better than at any time in Vaganova history. Then Gergiev, who has no knowledge in evaluating talent, also has no knowledge on the financial situation of Vaganova and accused Vaganova of being in bad financial shape which Asylmuratova strongly said was not true.

Gergiev has an agenda to eliminate his opposition, namely Asylmuratova and Dorofeeva, to succeed in his planned arts empire proposal. Of the 3 entitiies that Gergiev wanted to join with Mariinsky under his command, he contacted Putin to remove the Arts History Museum director and now did the same with Vaganova. From anyone's standpoint in N.America or Europe, he should have no right to interfere with an important Arts Museum and no right to interfere with Vaganova. In my opinion and many, he is power hungry and ruthless in getting what he wants by contacting Putin to remove his opponents.

There is no justification in what he is doing regarding Vaganova and Mariinsky Ballet. He never was qualified to be director of Mariinsky and he wants complete control of Mariinsky and it seems like complete control of the other arts institutions in St Petersburg.He does not believe in delegation, thinking that he can do everything. Maybe if he did not have over 200 concerts around the world, he could do much at home, but since he is always on the road, he clearly is a failure in managing Mariinsky. Nobody can do anything without his approval.

Gergiev never should have been made Mariisnky director and has clearly proven incompetent in managing Mariinsky with his bias against the main asset and his being away from Mariinsky more often than he is at home, in light of nobody being allowed to make decisions without him being there to make the decisions.

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The Mariinsky Ballet and the Mariinsky Opera are part of the Mariinsky Theatre, and the money each earns can be used whatever way the overall director sees fit. Whether he's qualified to make decisions or judgements about the ballet is beside the point: he has the confidence of the people who put him there, and he has the authority to do as he pleases, regardless of what any of us think. It *is* a standard business practice to take money from a cash cow and divert it -- yes, divert it -- into less profitable business centers, research and development, and/or pet projects of the people in charge, and boards of directors have rewarded people who've done this; removing them would be counter-productive for the decision makers.

At least in one respect he's been stopped: his proposal to be the joint head of the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi was rejected; his authority and influence was proven to be limited in at least this way. He seems to have succeeded in taking over other St. Petersburg institutions.

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The irony is that Gergiev seems to love to conduct Wagner's Ring, but he seems to miss the point of the work completely. Gold (money) and power corrupts and causes greed to consume the person who has the power and leads to destruction. Is he even listening to what he is conducting???

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For years as Fateyev and Gergiev were destroying Mariinsky Ballet, many have said that Vaganova was the wild card which prevented Gergiev and Fateyev from destroying the ballet company. I never imagined that Gergiev could ever do what he has done at Vaganova. If Vaganova gets destroyed, Mariinskly Ballet will not survive as the greatest ballet company in the world, as many, who love the St Petersburg Vaganova style over all other styles, feel.

I also have my doubts that Gergiev wants to keep these institutions. He might want to turn them into hotels or other businesses to make more money for him. He has yet to harm the Conservartory which is where Gergiev and Netrebko and so many others graduated from. He does not like ballet, but he does like opera and orchestra and it seems like he does not want to destroy the Conservatory for sentimental reasons and for the fact that it is the feeding ground of many of the non-ballet performers at Mariinsky. Of the 3 instititutions which Gergiev wanted to join with Mariinsky under his control, Gergiev has removed the directors of 2 of those 3 institutions, but has not touched the Conservatory.

I do agree with many people in their opinions on Gergiev being a madman and the Mariinsky Ballet tradition is in serious danger, unless Gergiev is stopped, which would mean his removal as Mariinsky director.

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For years as Fateyev and Gergiev were destroying Mariinsky Ballet, many have said that Vaganova was the wild card which prevented Gergiev and Fateyev from destroying the ballet company. I never imagined that Gergiev could ever do what he has done at Vaganova. If Vaganova gets destroyed, Mariinskly Ballet will not survive as the greatest ballet company in the world, as many, who love the St Petersburg Vaganova style over all other styles, feel
I also have my doubts that Gergiev wants to keep these institutions. He might want to turn them into hotels or other businesses to make more money for him. He has yet to harm the Conservartory which is where Gergiev and Netrebko and so many others graduated from. He does not like ballet, but he does like opera and orchestra and it seems like he does not want to destroy the Conservatory for sentimental reasons and for the fact that it is the feeding ground of many of the non-ballet performers at Mariinsky. Of the 3 instititutions which Gergiev wanted to join with Mariinsky under his control, Gergiev has removed the directors of 2 of those 3 institutions, but has not touched the Conservatory.
I do agree with many people in their opinions on Gergiev being a madman and the Mariinsky Ballet tradition is in serious danger, unless Gergiev is stopped, which would mean his removal as Mariinsky director.

I thought that myself. I thought that the Vaganova Academy would always be there to replenish what was lost at the Mariinsky if things got worse at the Mariinsky. But now it looks like the Vaganova Academy could change. If Tsiskaridze views the Vaganova style as "Cemetery" style as Smekalov has said he said, then I think there will definitely be changes even if someone like Lopatkina is in charge of artistic decisions at least on paper. I actually think Lopatkina cares about the Mariinsky and the traditions judging from her performances, but she is the exact opposite of Tsiskardze at least in public. So I can picture him bulldozing through any decisions she were to make. Asylmuratova's temperament seems like a better match for Tsiskaridze if a power struggle were to ensue.

I laughed at the idea that Gergiev might want to turn the Vaganova into a hotel. But maybe one day I will be crying about it.

I do wonder if Gergiev is like the televangelists. I think those types start out meaning well, but then they see they can get money and power and the masses viewing them as great and it all goes to their head and they become totally corrupt and start wanting more and more and more. Same with billionaires. Why the need for billions? Isn't millions enough? They should at that point be donating like crazy to worthy causes so much that it actually hits them in the pocket book. I try to save up enough so I can make a donation to St. Francis House every year at Christmas time and I deny myself some things in life so that I can give to others who are more needy each Christmas. I think that is the whole point of living in this world. Hoarding billions is ridiculous. Hoarding power is ridiculous. People like Gergiev have totally lost track of what is important in life.

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Maybe he identifies with Siegmund.

I would think he identified with Alberich! If Gergiev were an opera singer I would want him to play Alberich!!!

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Hoarding power is ridiculous. People like Gergiev have totally lost track of what is important in life.

I completely agree. His world has become a 3D world of me, myself and I.

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Alberich was always an honest chap, though, and Wotan's one overriding quality is his ability to lie to himself constantly.

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Alberich was always an honest chap, though, and Wotan's one overriding quality is his ability to lie to himself constantly.

Alberich is honest about what he wants and his greed. True. I still think it would be great for one of the Regietheater directors to dress up Alberich looking like Gergiev. That's how I feel since Gergiev's greed for power seems very open at this point.

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More from Ismene Brown's blog:

Tsiskaridze may unite Petersburg and Moscow ballet ‘schools’, says Minister

This article also discusses names two rivals for the Rector position: Yuri Fateev and Vaganova Academy teacher and pro-Rector Alexei Fomkin.

Ministry 'may try to obstruct' Tsiskaridze rivals

Key points: Fateev is not mentioned as a rival, but Ilya Kuznetzov is. The Ministry's strategy is alleged to be to add requirements that none of Tsiskaridze's rivals can match, which is usually done before announcing a candidate, but is a time-tested way to ensure a single candidate.

The date of the confirmation vote will be announced at the next Academic Council meeting, which is expected to be held by the end of the month. The vote is expected within two-three months, and in Brown's intro, she notes there are 300 voters, only one third of whom are dance faculty.

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Well, there's a bad idea.

Dreadful, but reading through Brown's blog, it sounded as if the Minister didn't mean (or intend to mean) much of anything, but was just trying to come up with some pro-Tsiskaridze formula to the effect that Tsiskaridze could be a bridge figure given his own training by Petersburg teachers, therefore the Petersburg style wasn't under threat blah blah. On the other hand, even if that way of reading the remarks turned out to be correct--I'm not confident of my ability to read anything in this situation--the Minister's tin ear and really spectacular display of ignorance is...well...astounding.

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It could be step one for Gergiev to combine management of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky. That was rejected once, but it may have been timing or a shift of power among the well-connected supporters.

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Ha sandik )))))

and Drew ["the Minister's tin ear and really spectacular display of ignorance is...well...astounding.] YES. This.

___

Yesterday here in Saint Petersburg at 2 p.m. on Ligovsky Prospekt Rosbalt hosted a press conference organized by the petitioners for ...perhaps I will call them the petitioners for fairness and democracy. In attendance were Kuznetsov, Igor Kolb, Anton Korsakov (also proposed as a candidate in fact), Yuri Smekalov and Fomkin along with pedagogues from the Academy. The candidates spoke and part of the conference is recorded on youtube (without visual but with audio) for those who understand Russian.

It is impressive that the group has rallied press support> the petition is reaching 1000 signatures but we need 10 times more than that to take it to the Duma. I'm praying that the more press attention this gets, the less likely a long-term disastrous outcome will be.

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More at day's end.

First, the good news: Fomkin met with Gergiev in a productive meeting and sources say he is not in support of Tsiskaridze leading up the Academy. His (Gergiev's) main grievance was the "distance" of the Academy from the theatre, he claimed. Tsiskaridze heading up the academy will only widen that gap.

Second, the bad news: The Ministry of Culture has announced suddenly that it will be running a financial/administrative audit of the Academy due to violations. (Unclear what violations, when, how, or why). Propaganda at its best to perpetuate the drama? Unbelievable.

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Lord, at this point, I suppose sky is the limit. I want to say, "it would depend on the legal situation" but apparently nothing is based on that here anymore. In the article they note that the audit also involves "educational" processes. How can the Ministry of Culture audit the way a 275 year old ballet academy teaches its own students, I'd like to know?

Financial audits are obviously more black-and-white. If they find missing funds, yes, I'm sure someone will be charged. Then the irony is why aren't people responsible for building billion dollar Costco theatres also being audited? ahem. We'd have a quick list of jail applicants in that case...

The fact that none of the rectors were given employment contracts however, is a reflection on the MINISTRY and not on the administration of the Academy. So I honestly do not know what they plan to "find" in this audit.

Between that and the "idea to unify" the schools, I....have no more words.

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Then the irony is why aren't people responsible for building billion dollar Costco theatres also being audited? ahem. We'd have a quick list of jail applicants in that case...

What and where is a Costco theater?

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