Trouble at the Bolshoi

|Leonid Desyatnikov (Composer)|Vladimir Sorokin (Libretto)|
MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian State Duma has ordered its committee for culture to check the information about the staging of the opera Rosenthal’s Children after Vladimir Sorokin’s libretto in the new building of the Bolshoi Theater.
A relevant decision was made at the Wednesday plenary session. All in all, 226 deputies voted for this decision, 12 deputies voted against and nobody abstained from voting.
This was an initiative of State Duma deputy Sergei Neverov (United Russia faction).
Speaking at the plenary session, Mr. Neverov said it was necessary to urgently specify and inform the MPs about the supposed performance. The opera’s premiere is scheduled for March 23.
“We should prevent the staging of Mr. Sorokin’s vulgar plays in the theater which is a symbol of Russian culture. Otherwise, this pornography will be discussed all over Russia,” Mr. Neverov stressed.
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Bolshoi embroiled in row over ‘pornographic’ opera
Tom Parfitt in Moscow [The Guardian, 4 Mar 05]
A scandal has engulfed the Bolshoi Theatre after pro-Kremlin MPs ordered an investigation into an opera which they claim is “vulgar and pornographic”.
Rosenthal’s Children, which features a godlike figure who creates clones of famous composers, was to open later this month.
The libretto was written by Vladimir Sorokin, a controversial postmodernist author, whose novel Blue Lard caused outrage in Russia with scenes of homosexual liaisons between the Soviet leaders Stalin and Khrushchev.
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L’Opéra Bolchoïaut; de Moscou dénonce le retour de la censure
[Le Monde, 10 Mar 05]
Les députés ont exigé une “vérification” de la moralité d’un opéra.
Moscou correspondance
Le temps de la censure artistique est-il en train de revenir en Russie ? Le Bolchoïaut; risque de faire les frais de ce retour. Mercredi 2 mars, un député de la Douma, Sergueïaut; Neverov, a fait voter par l’assemblée une résolution demandant la “vérification” par la commission de la culture de la moralité d’un opéra, Les Enfants de Rosenthal, dont les représentations devaient commencer le 23 mars (Le Monde du 5 mars). Première commande musicale passée par l’Opéra moscovite depuis vingt-cinq ans, l’œuvre a été élaborée par l’écrivain Vladimir Sorokine et le compositeur Leonid Dessiatnikov.
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Genetically modified Mozart
A new opera about clones is raising hell at the Bolshoi – and it hasn’t even opened yet. Vadim Prokhorov reports
[The Guardian, 16 Mar 05]
It’s rare for a new opera to get the kind of controversial publicity associated with rap artists and Hollywood movies. But that’s what’s happening at the Bolshoi. As soon as it was announced, three years ago, that the Bolshoi was going to produce its first Russian contemporary opera in a quarter of a century, all hell broke loose. The shadowy anti-communist youth group, Moving Together, whose members wear T-shirts featuring Vladimir Putin as a sign of their support for the Russian president, began staging noisy demonstrations in front of the theatre and the residence of Alexander Vedernikov, the music director.
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Under Siege
As the Bolshoi prepares for the debut of “Rosenthal’s Children,” composer Leonid Desyatnikov discusses his controversial creation.
By Raymond Stults [Moscow Times, 18 Mar 05]
New operas by Russian and Soviet composers once played a prominent part in the repertoire of the Bolshoi Theater. But nearly 26 years have passed since the theater last produced an operatic world premiere. On Wednesday, the long drought will finally end with the staging of “Rosenthal’s Children,” a work fresh from the pens of composer Leonid Desyatnikov and writer Vladimir Sorokin.
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Protests over Bolshoi ‘porn’ opera
[CNN, 23 Mar 05]
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Russia’s Bolshoi Theater has sparked outrage by putting on an opera that some lawmakers and a pro-Kremlin youth group say is pornographic.
The opera, “Rosenthal’s Children,” is about a scientist who clones five great classical composers — Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky and Verdi.
The scientist then dies, and the cloned musicians — unprepared for life on their own in the 1990s — end up on the street.
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Protests fail to halt Russian opera
Tom Parfitt in Moscow [The Guardian, 24 Mar 05]
Rosenthal’s Children, the opera branded “pornographic” by Russian MPs, premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow last night despite noisy protests outside and opprobrium from its detractors.
More than 200 protesters from the pro-Kremlin youth movement Moving Together gathered outside the theatre, shouting: “Sorokin – out of the Bolshoi.”
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“Les enfants de Rosenthal”, opéra au parfum de scandale, triomphe au Bolchoïaut;
[AFP, 24 Mar 05]
MOSCOU (AFP) – “Les enfants de Rosenthal”, nouvelle production du Bolchoïaut; au coeur d’une controverse entre défenseurs de l’ordre moral et tenants de la liberté artistique, a reçu un accueil triomphal du public pour sa première représentation mercredi soir.
“Formidable, remarquable, très contemporain, nous pensons que c’est une victoire pour ce théâtre”, s’enthousiasme un groupe de mélomanes dès la fermeture du rideau.
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