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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bolshoi to Close for Repairs in '95

The Bolshoi Theater, Russia's most famous cultural establishment, will close for at least two years for repairs and its world-famous ballet and opera troupes may dissolve unless it can find a temporary stage soon, its director announced Tuesday.

Vladimir Kokonin, who has spoken before of the Bolshoi's struggles to survive under new economic conditions, said at a press conference that the crumbling theater was scheduled to close in 1995, and accused the government of not working quickly enough to find new temporary quarters for his staff of 2, 000 and 1, 000 performers.

"The mere reconstruction works will take at least two years, probably longer", said Kokonin, "and such suspension will mean death to the theater's art. We could financially survive by just touring outside the CIS, but I don't believe in this".

The theater's famous building, that still belongs to the state, has been in emergency condition for the last two years, but has remained open, he said.

The theater is built over an underground river that is eroding its foundation and causing structural problems.

"To be quite honest", he said, "We should have closed it down a couple of years ago. We are still managing to keep the building in safe condition. But this won't last much longer".

A general reconstruction plan drafted by the city government has been suspended for over a year now because of official's inderisiveness and lack of money, Kokonin said. He said that repairs would cost over $300 million.

The project in its early stages involved a $35-million joint venture deal with a group of Italian firms, but the agreement hit a dead end, he said.

The Bolshoi troupe is struggling now to persuade the city officials to move them into the current Operetta Theater building, which belonged to Bolshoi 25 years ago. But this would involve moving the staff of the Operetta Theater.

"If the government makes no decision in the near future", said Kokonin. "We will just lie down on the floor and wait till the building collapses on our heads. We are not going to be kicked out onto the street".

Like the rest of the arts, the Bolshoi has fallen into financial crisis as its principle benefactor, the state, has itself run short of funds, despite a decree by President Boris Yeltsin guaranteeing that state funding for the Bolshoi would continue on the level it had always enjoyed.