Pro-Putin Youth Group Pickets Premiere of New Bolshoi Opera

Classic Arts News   Pro-Putin Youth Group Pickets Premiere of New Bolshoi Opera
A pro-Kremlin group has been picketing the Bolshoi Theatre in protest of its production Rosenthal's Children, which opens tonight, the Associated Press reports.

The group, part of a youth movement called Moving Together, objects to Vladimir Sorokin, the author of the opera's libretto. Sorokin's novel Blue Lard was the object of a Moving Together protest three years ago, when the group threw the book down a giant toilet set up outside the Bolshoi.

The novel, which depicted a sexual liaison between Stalin and Kruschchev, caused the author to be prosecuted on pornography charges, but the trial was dropped because there was no evidence of a crime.

Moving Together has vowed to picket the opera's opening tonight, but has said it will not disrupt the performance. Vasily Yakemenko, the group's head, told the AP, "If people want to go to the opera of a pornographer, that's their choice."

The group objects to the use of state funds to produce Sorokin's work. "We are protesting that a man who is a pornographer and uses foul language is being given a platform in the Russian State Bolshoi Theatre, with state funds," Yakemenko said."

Rosenthal's Children, composed by Leonid Desyatnikov, was condemned and made the target of an investigation by the Russian State Duma before anyone had actually read it. The opera is about a Nazi geneticist who clones Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Mussorgsky, and Verdi for his own amusement. Other characters include a pimp, a prostitute, and a nurse.

According to the AP, four nationalist lawmakers walked out of a dress rehearsal of Rosenthal's Children before it ended. Irina Savelyova, of the Rodina party, said, "I don't understand why there was a choir of prostitutes on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre."

Bolshoi officials are angry at the officials' reactions to the work, recalling the Soviet-era crackdown on culture.

Anatoly Iksanov, the theater's director, said, "If I listen to Moving Together, and tomorrow the Communists, then what performances could the Bolshoi stage?"

Sorokin told Reuters, "In Russia there are forces that want to return to the past...where culture was like a castrated cat."

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