(AFP) – Jan 27, 2009
MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia's renowned Bolshoi Theatre has cancelled a tour and a major opera premiere due to budget cuts forced by the financial crisis, its general director was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Alexei Iksanov said the Bolshoi would be cancelling a planned tour in Mexico, as well as a new production of Verdi's operatic masterpiece "Otello" planned for late April.
"The government is discussing a new budget due to the fall in oil prices and the devaluation of the ruble. It would be naive to believe that culture will be financed as before," he told the Novye Izvestia daily.
"The Bolshoi must make economies. We need to understand this as something inevitable, without hysteria or panic," he added, saying that the cost cuts amounted to 30 percent of the Bolshoi's budget.
He described the production of "Otello" by French director Arnaud Bernard as the Bolshoi's "most expensive project of the last years".
"In order to properly mount that production, we would have had to cancel at least two other productions," he said.
The Bolshoi is already suffering from not being able to perform in its historic theatre in central Moscow from where it takes his name due to a huge renovation, the completion of which has been repeatedly put back.
Located near Red Square, the theatre closed in 2005 for a 700 million dollar renovation project that was originally expected to be finished this year but could now last until 2011.
The Bolshoi's main stage, built between 1821 and 1825, had long been in need of major repairs when it closed three years ago, with visible cracks on the facade and performers hampered by a lack of backstage space.
Its opera and ballet companies are currently performing in Moscow in its second theatre known as the "New Stage" as well as touring regularly.
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