Earlier this week, Mikhail Shvydkoi told reporters that someone who wants the contract for the Bolshoi's renovation is agitating for new leadership at the theater—leadership more amenable to putting the contract money in this person's hands. The Times editorial suggests that the protesters have been hired to make the current leadership appear to be under fire.
The demonstrators, members of a pro-Putin group called Moving Together, are protesting a new opera called Rosenthal's Children, which is about a Nazi geneticist who clones Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Mussorgsky, and Verdi. Objections to the opera, from the protesters and members of the Russian State Duma, range from the so-called "pornographic" works by the opera's librettist, Vladimir Sorokin, to the degradation of the venerable theater with an unworthy work.
Much of the criticism of Rosenthal's Children, which opened on March 23, began before anyone had read the libretto, in part because of Sorokin's previously published novel Blue Lard, for which he was brought up on charges of pornography. The case was later dropped for lack of an actual crime. The fact that none of the politicians had read the opera's libretto, the Times concludes, suggests that the protests were really about something else.