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Mariinsky and Bolshoi Go Head-to-Head: London, Summer 2006

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The Kirov and Bolshoi opera and ballet will perform in London this summer. In today's Links there's an article in the London Times which quotes Gergiev as saying "'I am not at war, not with the Bolshoi or the Hochhausers.'"

I hadn't been following the developments, and while I had heard of the Hochhausers as the Hurok(s) of London, I didn't know the details of this particular reference. I did an MSN search, and found an article by Norman Lebrecht from March.

Gergiev has brought the Kirov half a dozen times to Covent Garden in the past decade with the financial backing and organisation of the veteran UK impresarios Victor and Lilian Hochhauser. It has not been a consistent run. After early acclaim for a clutch of Russian operas unseen since Revolutionary times there was critical and public dismay at Gergiev’s heavy-duty Verdi and Puccini, leadenly produced and variably sung; the last opera season lost more money than the ballet could make up. Gergiev agreed to make good by sending only the Kirov ballet this year. The Hochhausers duly booked the venue. Then, two months ago, the maestro changed his mind.

It appears from this and several other articles I've read, including the one in Links, that it was the opera that was in question, not the ballet. I agree with Lebrecht's assessment

For the Kirov, at this juncture, to present Shostakovich as the Soviets saw him is as much as political statement as an artistic one, a distinctly generous nod towards a discredited past.

particularly since the Company is not performing the politically dictated version of Lady MacBeth of Minsk (Katerina Izmailova) side-by-side with the original. I find it ironic that the Soviet version loathed by the composer is being presented in a seemingly last-minute anniversary "tribute" to him.

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