Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today

Simon Morrison

On a freezing night in January 2013, an assailant hurled acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, dragging one of Russia’s most illustrious institutions into scandal.

In Bolshoi Confidential, renowned musicologist Simon Morrison shows how the attack, and its torrid aftermath, underscored the importance of the Bolshoi to the art of ballet, to Russia, and to the world.

With exclusive access to state archives and private sources, Morrison sweeps us through the history of the ballet, from its disreputable beginnings in 1776 to the recent £450 million restoration that has returned the Bolshoi to its former glory, even as its prized talent has departed.

As Morrison reveals, the Bolshoi has transcended its own fraught history, surviving 250 years of artistic and political upheaval to define not only Russian culture, but also ballet itself.

Reviews of Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today

    • ‘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