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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"The ballerinas perform in a building that is falling aparr"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Russian government pledges Bolshoi support

The Russian government has pledged to do all it can to maintain the prestige of Moscow's world famous Bolshoi Theatre which today is celebrating its 225th anniversary.

Addressing an audience of performers from the Bolshoi's opera and ballet companies, the Russian deputy prime minister, Valentina Matviyenko, said that everything would be done to ensure that it fulfilled its great destiny.

The Bolshoi was founded in 1776 by Catherine the Great, and now occupies a dilapidated 19th century building near the Kremlin.

Critical reviews have been mixed in recent years, but under its new director, Anantoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi has attempted to restore its reputation by bringing back the big names associated with the theatre's heyday in the 1960s. However, critics have rejected this move as a lurch back into the past.

Next March, the Bolshoi moves into an annex to allow three years of much needed renovation to the 19th century building, at an estimated $400 million.

The oak pillars supporting the theatre are rotting, and the last major work on the electrical system was done in 1935.

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