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Pro-Putin censorship. The Moscow Bolshoi Theater deletes names and cancels performances

The director of the famous Moscow Bolshoi Theater (Bolshoi Theater) Vladimir Urin admitted that the repertoire of this stage is censored for political reasons. He stated, for example, that when some of the show’s creators spoke out unequivocally against the special military operation, as they officially call the war against Ukraine in Russia, the theater removed their names from the posters.

The Grand Theater was under increased scrutiny and occasionally had to cancel performances due to public backlash, including critical letters and statements. “The theater and the Ministry of Culture understand very well what causes very serious negative reactions. This was also the reason for removing some performances from the repertoire,” said the director of the Urin Theater in an interview with the Russian daily Rossiiskaja Gazeta.

He also mentioned the expiration of licenses for some shows, which forced the theater to withdraw some pieces. He admitted that Western theater stars are increasingly hesitant to work with the Bolshoi Theatre. “Before the socio-political situation changed, we were used to almost half the world coming to the Bolshoi Theatre,” Urin recalled.

“We had many guest soloists and important joint productions, which is very much the essence of musical art. But today it is only rare cases that our Western colleagues agree to cooperate with the theater.” And even those few are asking “that their names not be published until the last moment”, added Urin.

Censorship of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater became apparent in the spring of 2022, when the name of director Kirill Serebrennikov, an outspoken critic of the war in Ukraine, disappeared from promotional posters. It subsequently canceled productions directed by Serebrennikov, such as the ballet “Nureyev” and the opera “Don Pasquale”.

Later, the theater revived the ballet “Hero of Our Time” without mentioning Serebrennikov’s name, but finally withdrew the ballet from the repertoire in March 2023 without explanation.

The Bolshoi Theater is not alone in censoring creators who oppose the war; other Russian theaters also remove the names of opposition artists from their promotional materials. However, before Urina’s interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, theater management was reluctant to openly attribute these actions to the creators’ political views.

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