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.