Urin: Theater visionary with nerves of steel

Urin: Theater visionary with nerves of steel

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Urin: Theater visionary with nerves of steel

Newly appointed Director General of the Bolshoi Theater Vladimir Urin (L) and former Director General Anatoly Iksanov attend a news conference in Moscow. AP photo

Vladimir Urin, the man who was appointed July 9 as the new Bolshoi Theater director, is a respected manager who turned a small obscure music theater called Stanislavsky into a must-stop venue for the art scene.

The 66-year-old now faces an uphill battle after being placed at the helm of Russia’s historic theater and charged with rescuing its reputation following a string of scandals and infighting of the vast troupe.

Urin won respect from colleagues by quietly revamping Moscow’s 90-year-old Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater to prominence over the past decade by attracting international talent while also popularizing contemporary ballet in Russia before the trend caught on in the Bolshoi.

He organized several international modern dance festivals in Moscow which proved immensely popular, and was one of the founders in 1994 of Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask theater festival, where he sits on the jury.

Although he has stayed behind the scenes in most of his theater’s successes, Urin is viewed as experienced and perceptive, successfully bringing in an array of acclaimed names from abroad to stage ground-breaking performances despite having considerably less money than the Bolshoi or Mariinsky in Saint Petersburg. “Urin was an outstanding director both as manager and artistic director. It must be sad for him to leave the theater that under him became world-class,” said theatre critic Alexei Parin, who hosts programs about music on Moscow Echo radio.

‘The Bolshoi Theater has a good future’

“Urin is a very experienced director, with a very clear vision of what a modern musical theater is,” Parin added. “The Bolshoi has a good future.”

Critics unanimously praised Urin as a talented manager who is not afraid of experimentation and manages to create ideal working conditions for the complex personalities of the ballet and opera world.

“Urin is an educated, very responsible person. He is a manager with nerves of steel,” said Sergei Khodnev, a music critic for the Kommersant newspaper. But Urin also has a huge task ahead of him as he enters the Bolshoi, an enormous institution with big egos, warring factions, and scrutiny of the federal government.