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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Bolshoi's artistic director resigns
The Bolshoi Ballet
The Bolshoi was one of the glories of the old USSR
The Bolshoi theatre's artistic director has handed in his resignation - only nine months after being brought in to restore the institution's flagging fortunes.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky announced he was leaving after critics mauled the Bolshoi's production of Sergei Prokoviev's opera The Player.

The Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi's home since 1856
The veteran conductor, 70, was appointed artistic director to help resurrect the Bolshoi's reputation after President Putin sacked his predecessor and brought the theatre under the control of the Ministry of Culture.

Previously, Mr Rozhdestvensky directed the Stockholm philharmonic orchestra and the BBC symphony orchestra.

Decline

The Bolshoi, which recently celebrate its 225th anniversary, was founded in 1776 by Catherine the Great.

The company is perceived to have been in decline for some time and outshone by other companies including its Saint Petersburg rival, the Mariinsky.

The staging of an earlier little-known version of Prokoviev's celebrated 1915 opera was seen as a key test for the new artistic director - but was roundly criticized in the Russian press.

Talking to the Izvestiya newspaper, Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi described the resignation as "a blow for the Bolshoi, but not a catastrophe" - though it is not clear whether the Ministry has accepted the resignation.

A recent season by the Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet has also had a poor critical reception in London.

See also:

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