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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Bolshoi names new 'director'
The Bolshoi all-stars recently appeared in London
Russia's Bolshoi theatre has appointed a young orchestra conductor, just weeks after previous head Gennady Rozhdestvensky left in disgust.

Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov told Ekho Moskvy radio that the official announcement installing 38-year-old Alexander Vedernikov in the post could be made next week.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Gennady Rozhdestvensky: Said he was not supported
"We considered many candidates," he said.

"But we felt that, of the young conductors, he was the most suitable for the Bolshoi Theatre as it is today."

It is not clear whether Mr Vedernikov will take over as artistic director as well as chief conductor.

Mr Rozhdestvensky held both roles simultaneously but Reuters news agency reports that Mr Verdernikov will also be appointed as head.

Mr Vedernikov has been artistic director of the Russian Philharmonia since 1995 and has had experience with other top orchestras and theatres in Russia and abroad.

Earlier in the month 70-year-old Rozhdestvenksy left the Bolshoi after criticism of his production of Prokoviev's The Gambler.

Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre: A Russian institution in disarray
After his departure he painted a picture of utter chaos at the opera house in a Russian TV interview, describing artists skipping rehearsals, defective sets and erratic management.

The Russian Ministry of Culture appointed Mr Rozhdestvensky as artistic director and Anatoly Iksanov executive director last autumn, in a bid to address the declining fortunes of the company.

But Mr Rozhdestvensky said that the executive director did nothing to help him.

The Bolshoi ballet
The Bolshoi was one of the glories of the USSR
Now Mr Iksanov has said that the Bolshoi will focus on building a young following with the aid of their new appointee.

But the Bolshoi is also keen to maintain stability within the company.

Mr Iksanov told Ekho Moskvy: "We have returned the traditional system, aiming to observe a balance, as it were, between ballet and opera, to ensure that the arrival of each new person does not result in a tilt towards one or the other direction."

The Bolshoi's ensemble features some of the Russia's finest performers, but the lure of better pay abroad or cash-raising tours is often great.

In addition to the artistic crisis, the theatre itself is said to need a 145m facelift after years of neglect.

See also:

15 May 01 | Arts
Bolshoi standards slipping
02 Sep 00 | Europe
Bolshoi has new director
29 Aug 00 | Europe
Putin sacks Bolshoi director
10 Jun 00 | Education
Ballet boys from Brazil
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