Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today
In this "incredibly rich" (New York Times) definitive history of the Bolshoi Ballet, visionary performances onstage compete with political machinations backstage.
A critical triumph, Simon Morrison's "sweeping and authoritative" (Guardian) work, Bolshoi Confidential, details the Bolshoi Ballet's magnificent history from its earliest tumults to recent scandals. On January 17, 2013, a hooded assailant hurled acid into the face of the artistic director, making international headlines. A lead soloist, enraged by institutional power struggles, later confessed to masterminding the crime. Morrison gives the shocking violence context, describing the ballet as a crucible of art and politics beginning with the disreputable inception of the theater in 1776, through the era of imperial rule, the chaos of revolution, the oppressive Soviet years, and the Bolshoi's recent $680 million renovation. With vibrant detail including "sex scandals, double-suicide pacts, bribery, arson, executions, prostitution rings, embezzlement, starving orphans, and] dead cats in lieu of flowers" (New Republic), Morrison makes clear that the history of the Bolshoi Ballet mirrors that of Russia itself.
'The title means what it says. There's plenty of scandal here: arson, double suicide, dead cats flung at curtain calls. At the same time, the book is energetically researched, beautifully written - fun, relaxed, sophisticated - and full of serious ideas, boldly stated' Joan Acocella, The New Yorker 'Another marvelously informative book from Simon Morrison, dishing this time on Russia's great musical theater, onstage and off. It is a wonderful read, full of intriguing spectacle and spectacular intrigue' Richard Taruskin, author of The Oxford History of Western Music 'Simon Morrison has written an engrossing history of one of Russia's most enduring cultural institutions. Bolshoi Confidential deftly shatters the distinctions between high-brow and low-brow, art and politics, authority and violence' Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire 'A colorful and erudite view on Russia through the tumultuous history of the sumptuous Bolshoi' Peter Pomeranzev, author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 'A magisterial portrait of the art, intrigue and politics buffeting Russia's great cultural institution, the Bolshoi Ballet ... A chilling cautionary tale about the perils of art pressed into the service of dogma and subdued into a servant of the state, Bolshoi Confidential offers fresh details about how deeply and indelibly Stalinist censorship bruised culture, artists and audiences in the USSR' Janice Ross, author of Like A Bomb Going Off 'Simon Morrison's Bolshoi Confidential lifts the curtain on Russia's best-known cultural institution. An intoxicating mix of grandeur and gossip, it charts luminous performances on stage and sordid machinations in the wings from the age of Catherine the Great to that of Vladimir Putin... Sweeping and authoritative history' Guardian
Simon Morrison is a professor of music at Princeton University, a contributor to the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, and the author of, most recently, The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.