Last night we went to see “Don Quixote” performed by the Bolshoi Troupe at the State Kremlin Palace. We were all enraptured by the grace of the lead ballerina Natalia Osipova and the astounding leaps and bounds by the male lead dancer, Ivan Vasiliev.
The Ballet was performed at the Kremlin because the Bolshoi Theater is currently undergoing renovations (and has been for several years).
The Theater itself was very large and very “1970s.” It had no decorations and is most easily described as “brown wood panels.” But we were not there to see the theater, we were there for the Ballet.
The Bolshoi Ballet is recognized world-wide as one of the leading troupes. It was established in 1776 and has performed for wealthy and noble Muscovites for the past 233 years.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation failed to provide the Ballet with sufficient funds and throughout the 1990s many critics panned the Ballet’s performances. However, after much political drama, the Putin administration injected the Ballet with new funds and their performances have seen drastic improvements.
“Don Quixote” was written by Ludvig Minkus and premiered in 1999.
We also went to the Museum of Modern Russian History. The museum is located in the building that housed the English Club before the October Revolution, and has exhibits that portray the layout of the building in pre-revolutionary times. The English Club was the most aristocratic club in Moscow, and its interior was filled with mosaics and marble columns. It was also mentioned in Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and in fact had little to do with the English. One room in the Museum replicated the original elite social club, where gentlemen met to play cards, converse or read periodicals. Marble pillars, reliefs and ornately carved bookshelves created a relaxed, noble atmosphere.
Following the October Revolution the building was converted into a museum, which was named the Museum of the Revolution until the 1990s. It is filled with artifacts of Russian history from the 1890s up to the present day. Some of the artifacts were interesting, such as the old Soviet posters, an example of typical peasant garb, and some historical photographs.
However, we also noticed that the Cold War (namely the arms race and the Cuban Missile Crisis) and the war with Afghanistan were left out or under-represented in the museum. We found it interesting that such key events in Soviet history were not given prominence in the museum.