On the night of January 17, 2013, the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater Ballet, Sergei Filin, was attacked with battery acid by a hooded assailant outside his house. News of the attack and Filin’s possible blinding circled the globe. He had known he was a target, he told reporters. High-profile positions at the Bolshoi came with such risks.
Everyone has a stake in the settling, if not the solving, of the crime: from the dancers who have been purged from the ranks under suspicion of being involved, to the opaque political and monied interests at war with each other with the Bolshoi caught in the crossfire. Truth being illusive in Russia, the country itself a kind of theatre, the tale is thickly layered. This book cuts through to the core of the crime and the foundations of the buildings—the Bolshoi and the Kremlin—where it all was scripted.
Those who survive the current time of troubles will have the power to chart the artistic and financial course of the Bolshoi moving forward, or perhaps back. Whatever happens will always reflect what is happening within politics. The story of the Bolshoi showcases the glamor, beauty, prestige, and cruelty of life in the spotlight—and of Russia itself.
Reviews of Bolshoi Confidential
‘The title means what it says. There’s plenty of scandal here: arson, double suicide, dead cats flung at curtain calls. At the same time, the book is energetically researched, beautifully written – fun, relaxed, sophisticated – and full of serious ideas, boldly stated’ Joan Acocella, The New Yorker
‘Another marvelously informative book from Simon Morrison, dishing this time on Russia’s great musical theater, onstage and off. It is a wonderful read, full of intriguing spectacle and spectacular intrigue’ Richard Taruskin, author of The Oxford History of Western Music
‘Simon Morrison has written an engrossing history of one of Russia’s most enduring cultural institutions. Bolshoi Confidential deftly shatters the distinctions between high-brow and low-brow, art and politics, authority and violence’ Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire
‘A colorful and erudite view on Russia through the tumultuous history of the sumptuous Bolshoi’ Peter Pomeranzev, author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
‘A magisterial portrait of the art, intrigue and politics buffeting Russia’s great cultural institution, the Bolshoi Ballet … A chilling cautionary tale about the perils of art pressed into the service of dogma and subdued into a servant of the state, Bolshoi Confidential offers fresh details about how deeply and indelibly Stalinist censorship bruised culture, artists and audiences in the USSR’ Janice Ross, author of Like A Bomb Going Off
‘Simon Morrison’s Bolshoi Confidential lifts the curtain on Russia’s best-known cultural institution. An intoxicating mix of grandeur and gossip, it charts luminous performances on stage and sordid machinations in the wings from the age of Catherine the Great to that of Vladimir Putin… Sweeping and authoritative history’ Guardian