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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bolshoi Theater’s Music Director Quits Abruptly

Bolshoi Theater’s music director resigned suddenly Monday, throwing the future of the institution’s grand $1 billion reconstruction into chaos.
Alexander Vedernikov, who had struggled for eight years to raise standards and inject new life into the theater, announced his decision on the opening day of the Bolshoi’s summer tour of Italy. “The theater is putting bureaucratic interests before artistic ones,” he said by telephone from La Scala, Milan. “But the interests of art matter far more than the interests of bureaucracy.”
Behind the drama of Vedernikov’s sudden exit lies a bitterly fought battle over the future of the Bolshoi. The theater’s doors closed in 2005 for a renovation intended to take just three years. Nobody now expects work to finish before 2011. Worse still, the economic crisis is forcing cost-cutting, sources close to the work say. Vedernikov fears that it will lead to fatal compromises on vital details, such as the theater’s acoustics.
German experts Mueller-BBM, hired to repair the damage done to the theater’s acoustics by the construction of the Moscow metro in the 1930s, have been told that their contract is under review and that Russian consultants will be used in the meantime, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
A Bolshoi spokeswoman said she was not authorized to speak about Vedernikov’s resignation, which she described as “unexpected.”