Renowned music historian Simon Morrison reveals the ballet as a crucible of art and politics, beginning with the disreputable inception of the theater in 1776 and proceeding through the era of imperial rule, the chaos of revolution, the oppressive Soviet years, and the recent $680 million renovation project. Drawing on exclusive archival research, Morrison creates a richly detailed tableau of the centuries-long war between world-class art and life-threatening politics that has defined this storied institution.
On a freezing night in January 2013, an assailant hurled acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin. The crime, organised by a lead soloist, dragged one of Russia's most illustrious institutions into scandal. Under Vladimir Putin, the Bolshoi Theatre has been called on to preserve Russia's lengthy artistic legacy and to mirror its neo-imperial ambitions.