Medvedev takes to Bolshoi stage to hail ‘new’ theater
Published : Sep 21, 2011 - 18:32
Updated : Sep 21, 2011 - 18:32
MOSCOW (AFP) ― Surrounded by leggy tutu-clad ballerinas, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday took to the stage of the historic Bolshoi Theatre to hail its reconstruction after half a decade of closure.

His business suit rather starkly contrasting with the frilly costumes of the Bolshoi’s world famous ballet troupe, Medvedev expressed his satisfaction with the reconstruction of the Moscow theater which has been shut since 2005.

Medvedev watched a rehearsal of an updated revival of a classic Soviet version of the Tchaikovsky ballet “The Sleeping Beauty” by choreographer and controversial ex-Bolshoi chief Yuri Grigorovich.

“It’s good that this (the reconstruction) has finally been finished. At some point there was the feeling that this would be a never-ending story,” Medvedev told the cast after taking to the stage.

“The spirit of the theater has been preserved. I hope that here you will feel like before or even better,” he added.

The ballet stars included the Bolshoi’s prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova, famed worldwide for her astonishing extensions and who also finds time to sit in the Russian parliament as a lawmaker for the ruling United Russia party.

“The Sleeping Beauty” is to be one of the first new productions in the revamped Bolshoi in November and Russia is hoping the reopening will reestablish its reputation as one of the greatest dance troupes in the world.

The theatre, a landmark of Moscow built in the 1820s, closed in 2005 and was due to reopen in 2008, but the opening was repeatedly postponed. In the interim the company has been performing at the smaller “New Stage” theatre nearby.

The first performance will be a gala by the opera and ballet troupes on Oct. 28 followed by a production opening Nov. 2 of Glinka’s opera “Ruslan and Lyudmila.”“The Sleeping Beauty” is due to open on Nov. 18.

Medvedev was accompanied at the rehearsal by Grigorovich, one of the great names of Soviet ballet who ran the Bolshoi with a notoriously iron first for three decades from its Soviet heyday until 1995.