A joint directorate of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theaters may be created before the beginning of 2024, sources said “Vedomosti”. The director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater Valery Gergiev could become the director. Special Presidential Representative Mikhail Shvydkoy believes that the theaters will not be united, but both of them could be headed by Mr. Gergiev.
The idea of a unified directorate was expressed by President Vladimir Putin in March 2022. Then he turned to Mr. Gergiev and recalled that they had discussed the option of a united directorate. The conductor supported the idea.
There were no official instructions in this regard. According to Vedomosti, the president recalled his idea in September 2023 at a part of the meeting of the board of trustees of the Mariinsky Theater in the Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg, closed to the media. According to the newspaper’s source, a search is now underway for “a structure for creating such a directorate.” The discussion will continue with the participation of Mr. Gergiev, who was previously on tour in China.
The President’s Special Representative for International Cultural Cooperation, Mikhail Shvydkoy, said that we are not talking about “merging two theaters, this is impossible.” “It’s another matter that maestro Gergiev can be the head of the Mariinsky Theater and the Bolshoi Theater. But this does not mean at all that theaters can be united. These are completely different institutions with different histories. This is like merging the Tretyakov Gallery with the Russian Museum and creating a common directorate,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum (quoted by TASS).
At the same time, Mr. Shvydkoy considers it possible that Mr. Gergiev will become the head of two theaters. “I am as sure as one can be of anything in the modern world that these theaters will not be united,” added the special representative of the president.
Vedomosti’s interlocutor explained that the choice fell on Valery Gergiev because he is a person “understandable to the first person.” It was not in favor of Bolshoi General Director Vladimir Urin that in February 2022 he spoke out against the military operation in Ukraine. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, answering a question about the joint directorate during a press call, forwarded all questions on this topic to the Ministry of Culture.