Archive for Life in Russia, Culture, Arts, Theater, Music

Russia’s Cities Becoming Less Moscow- and Russia-Centric, New Studies Find

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 13, 2014) Two studies about how residents of Russia’s cities feel about where they live and identify themselves suggest that the residents of Russian cities away from the core of the country are ever less focused on Moscow as the center of their lives and identify

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Five Russian books for your Christmas gift list

Fyodor Dostoyevskty file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Phoebe Taplin, special to RBTH – December 3, 2014) Book reviews: Great Russian reads sparkling with wit, humor and drama that should be on your Christmas gift list. 1) ‘Crime and Punishment’ Fyodor Dostoevsky Hailed by AN Wilson in The Spectator as a “truly great translation” that captures

Marriage? No thanks, I’m too busy: Why Russians are delaying tying the knot

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyubinskaya, special to RBTH – November 25, 2014) Russians are increasingly leaving marriage to a later age in order to focus on their careers and personal interests. While a decade ago 40 percent of weddings were between people under the age of 24, that figure is now

Hermitage’s Head Defends Contemporary Art Show

Hermitage Museum

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Kit Rees – November 21, 2014) He’s the head of one of the seemingly most conservative art institutes – St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – but Mikhail Piotrovsky has been in the middle of a dispute about contemporary art this year as the museum hosted the 10th biennial Manifesta art festival.

The tricks of the trade: Helping students understand the Russian language

Russian Folk Singers file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – November 5, 2014) RBTH has surveyed the best Russian language teachers abroad about how they teach their students the language. They compare nouns to cats, infinitives to flour and even take their students to the bathhouse to drink mead – all in order for

Take a Vacation to Crimea at Embattled Teatr.doc

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – November 6, 2014) To be or not to be, that is the question these days for Teatr.doc. A move by city authorities to oust the famous little theater from its basement in the center of Moscow will probably be successful. The chances are better than good that

Russia Ranked Least Prosperous Country in Europe

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 5, 2014) Russia fell eight places from last year in the 2014 edition of the Legatum Institute Prosperity Index – a yearly rating of countries’ performance across several categories of well-being, including economic indicators such as gross domestic product, but also levels of safety, freedom, health and happiness. This

Moscow Times: Russia Beats U.S. and Japan as Best Place to Live for Expats, Survey Shows

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 24, 2014) Russia has ranked 17th on HSBC Bank’s annual list of the of the world’s best countries for expats, beating other destinations like Japan, France and the United Kingdom. Expats in 34 countries were asked in the HSBC Expat poll published Wednesday to judge their experiences on living

Honored Burials, Mass Grave for Theater Greats

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – October 13, 2014) Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours.

Nazi death squad leader: The musical

Map of Latvia and Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – BALTIC BLOG: Mike Collier in Riga – October 9, 2014) If you are constantly battling to try and disprove Russian claims that your state is essentially neo-Nazi, it doesn’t help if an evening of musical entertainment then pops up giving Nazi death squads the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway musical.

Tolstoy’s Canadian Doukhobors Return to Russia Over 100 Years After Fleeing

Leo Tolstoy file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – YASNAYA POLYANA, Tula Region – October 3, 2014) When they were in their 50s, Elaine and Alfred Podovinikoff packed up their lives in their native Canada and emigrated to a muddy, provincial Russian settlement with a single paved road and freely roaming chickens. The Podovinikoffs resettled just

RIA Novosti: Bolshoi Kicks Off Opera Season With Reduced Tchaikovsky

Bolshoi Theater file photo

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti), Nastassia Astrasheuskaya – Less is more was the ruling principle for Bolshoi’s musical director Tugan Sokhiev at the premiere of Piotr Tchaikovsky’s rare opera The Made of Orleans. He chose to have no decorations or exquisite costumes in the concert opera, staged at the theatre for the second time in

Lyubimovka Marks Real Start of Theater Season

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – September 4, 2014) It’s not quite true that the Lyubimovka play festival is the first real event of each theater season in Moscow. This year, for example, some 10 top venues, including the Moscow Art Theater, the Mayakovsky and the Gogol Center, are already up and running.

Moscow Times: Study Finds Russian Women Spend Most Time in Front of Mirror

Two Babushkas file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) Russian women place first in the world in terms of how much time they spend in front of a mirror, a study conducted by U.S. company Harris Interactive revealed. Fifty-seven percent of Russian women between the ages of 18 and 49 spend at least 45 minutes getting

Russian Cultural Figures Targeted as New Opposition

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 2, 2014) With Russia’s political opposition either sidelined or splintered over Russian policy in Ukraine, dissenting cultural figures have become the new focus of pro-Kremlin witch hunts, with state media treating them as a political force and accusing them of treachery. The practice has echoes of

When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – August 27, 2014) When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers When the First Congress of Soviet Writers opened on Aug. 17, 1934 in Moscow, it marked a watershed in Soviet literature. The artistic freedom that had characterized the turbulent 1920s was

Ferapontov Monastery

Ferapontov Monastery file photo, adapted from wikimedia commons image at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ferapontov_Monastery_020509.jpg, posted by Enotovidnii

Subject: Ferapontov Monastery Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2014 From: William Brumfield <william.brumfield@gmail.com> My current article for Russia beyond the Headlines is devoted to the radiant frescoes created at  in 1502 by the artist Dionisy and his two sons. The monastery and its frescoes are on the UNESCO World Heritage list: rbth.com/travel/2014/08/08/ferapontov_monastery_sublime _beauty_in_the_russian_north_38893.html For best results

Moscow Times: Eight Things That Will Make You Jealous of Russians and Their Dachas

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 9, 2014) [Missing photos here themoscowtimes.com/news/article/8-things-that-will-make-you-jealous-of-russians-and-their-dachas/504792.html] In summer, the dacha becomes the focal point of Russian existence. Children and grandparents live there while school is out, and those who still have to work head out for their own bit of greenery once Friday afternoon rolls around. It doesn’t have

The Winners of the 22nd Moscow Times Theater Awards

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – August 7, 2014) What a year. Drama. Histrionics. Villainy. Hubris. Intrigue. Tragedy. And I haven’t even begun considering the 2013-2014 theater season. You guessed it. It is time for the annual Moscow Times Theater Awards. For the 22nd year running, I take a look back at why

New Era Looms After Golden Age of ‘New Drama’

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – August 1, 2014) It has been an astonishing run. But doesn’t every run come to an end? The number of major playwrights that Russia put up over the last 15 to 18 years may make all other eras in the history of Russian drama pale by comparison.

Making sense of war: The perspective of five great Russian writers

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Mikhail Butov, special to RBTH – July 23, 2014) The author is a writer and Russian Booker Prize winner. The current conflict in Ukraine is raising sensitive ethical questions, forcing us to consider the justifications and meaning of using military force, and whether it should be allowed at

The Nightmare of Being a Russian-Language Ukrainian Playwright

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – July 21, 2014) “I don’t know what to do about it, John. It is a nightmare and it is hell. And something in me has been broken irreparably.” Thus responded Maksym Kurochkin, a Ukrainian Russian-language playwright, to my question about what he is experiencing these days. As

Arts world up in arms as Russia bans swearwords in films, books and TV

Movie Theater file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headliines – rbth.ru – Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – July 2, 2014) A law making it illegal to use swearwords in television, movies, literature, media reporting, concerts, and theatrical productions entered into force on July 1. Violators will face stiff fines. Prominent figures have expressed their dismay over the ban, arguing that it

Few Russian Artists Bother to Fight Creeping Trend of Censorship

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 23, 2014) As we approach July 1, the day after which obscenities will officially be banned in Russian art, the Russian creative community is doing what it can to make sense of a concerted push on the part of the government to regulate the arts and

Russians Unfazed by Nudists But Outraged by Transsexuals, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 23, 2014) While a majority of Russians feel a sense of outrage toward transsexuals, most could not care less about nudists, a somewhat questionable poll concludes. The poll, published Monday by independent pollster Levada Center – presumably testing Russians’ attitudes to non-traditional behavior – showed roughly equal numbers of

Happy in Yakutia and Russia

Map of Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 23, 2014) Could you be happy living somewhere where temperatures drop below 50 degrees Celsius in the nine-month-long winters? It seems hard to imagine, but the residents of Siberia’s Yakutia in the heart of the Asian part of Russia – the coldest place

The Russian novel returns: Solovki prison, the defense industry, and an agronomist called Gogol

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Georgy Manaev, RBTH – June 15, 2014) The shortlist for the ninth annual national literary prize “The Big Book” has been unveiled. This is Russia’s most influential literary award in mainstream prose and – with a prize fund of $174,000 – its most lucrative. The winners will be

Russia Day: The country’s most misunderstood day off

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – June 12, 2014 Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – June 12, 2014) On June 12, Russia celebrates one of its youngest national holidays, Russia Day. Nominally a celebration of Russian statehood, the significance of the day is widely misunderstood, even within the country itself. What is the history of the

Volkostrelov Resurrects Soviet ’60s

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 10, 2014) In “1968. Novy Mir” at the Taganka Theater, Dmitry Volkostrelov shrewdly found a way to combine aesthetics, artistic methods and themes that are capable of unifying that distant era with the world we inhabit. Someone may think he did not do much, just put

Happiness is sharing dacha memories

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Joy Neumeyer, special to RBTH – June 8, 2014) Tomatoes, bikes and boyfriends: Russians and Americans share their dacha memories When Natalia Filonova talks about her dacha, she can’t talk quickly enough. She rattles off the most recent improvements she’s made with breathless pride: 23 new trees, a

Russia’s got talent: The making of the nation’s future musicians and artists

Sheet Music in the Midst of Artist's Outline of Human Head and Brain

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – June 1, 2014) There are more than 5,000 music and art schools in modern Russia. Here children can learn to play different instruments and master the basics of painting or sculpture practically free of charge, in addition to their regular education. Teaching staff note

Moscow Places Near Bottom in TripAdvisor Cities Survey

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Breffny Morgan – May 29, 2014) Sanctions may come and go, but bad reviews last a lifetime. TripAdvisor, the second most popular travel website, has recently blasted Russia on several counts of being the world’s worst travel destination in its yearly Cities Survey. This is not an overt move by

‘Donkey Heart’ Shows Soviet Past Behind Family Turmoil

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Elizabeth Kaplunov – May 27, 2014) As the Soviet Union fades from the memories of the youngest generations of Russians, it still underpins the consciousness of their parents. The play “Donkey Heart,” written by Moses Raine and directed by his sister Nina Raine, focuses on the psychological setup of a

‘Culture’ Newspaper Condemns Contemporary Theater Again

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 26, 2014) I forced myself to read the entire article. It was not easy to do. But it had to be done. The Culture newspaper, which made headlines in April by attacking 29 contemporary Russian writers and directors as propagators of “sleaze, obscenities and perversion,” is

Bolshoi Theater announces plans for new season ahead of U.S. tour

Bolshoi Theater file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – May 19, 2014) After a series of high-profile scandals at the Bolshoi Theater led to a change in leadership, fans of opera and ballet have been left wondering which direction the theater will now take. The Bolshoi has now announced the details of its

Medinsky the Media Magnet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 19, 2014) Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky received an honorary fellowship on Thursday a few days late and not quite as planned. The institution doing the honors was Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy, but a planned ceremony in Italy on May 12 was junked at

Local Promoter Speaks Out Against Boycotts

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sergey Chernov – May 13, 2014) With a growing number of Western artists boycotting Russia in protest of its annexation of Crimea and destabilization in southeastern Ukraine, a St. Petersburg concert promoter has spoken out against their actions, saying that these musicians are only hurting fans. Ilya Bortnyuk, whose agency

Garage Encourages Spontaneity and Engagement with ‘Do It’

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Timothy Misir – May 8, 2014) A young woman attempting to pull out a tablecloth from a dining table, littering the floor with broken tableware in the process, a naked and blindfolded lady guided by a remote-controlled tank mounted on her head wandering the gallery and the students of Strelka

Brush Up Your Shakespeare to Understand Today’s Russia

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 5, 2014) “Hamlet.” Has there ever been a better play to fall back on when you need to have a chat about Russia? “Words, words, words.” “To be or not to be.” “The rest is silence.” All phrases that sound loaded in many a Russian historical

Language and Culture Not History ‘Main Unifying Factors’ for Russians, Valdai Club Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, April 24, 2014) The Russian language and Russian culture are today “the main unifying factor[s]” for the citizens of the Russian Federation, unlike history which continues to be a source of divisions given that different groups have different understandings of past events, according to the Valdai International

Pussy Riot Lands in U.S. for Film Premiere

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ali Sar – HOLLYWOOD, April 22, 2014) An image of young women clad in colorful outfits peeping through ski masks while being detained and clobbered by the police has been a part of evening newscasts in the U.S. for some time, most recently during the Sochi Olympics. Casual viewers have

Homegrown Films Beat Hollywood Imports in the Battle for Viewers

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – April 17, 2014) After a string of domestic blockbusters and the strongest first quarter in recent years, it seems fair to say that the Russian film industry is on the rise – but the story is far from over, a local producer says. “Russian cinema is experiencing

Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment

Back side of House on Embankment (central part), view from Patriarshy Bridge pedestrian walkway, from Wikimedia Commons, user NVO, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moscow,_House_on_Embankment_back_side.jpg

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – April 16, 2014) This huge apartment block across the river from the Kremlin is one of the enduring symbols of the Stalin era. In the 1930s the apartments inside were allocated only to senior officials and the Soviet elite, but when many of them

Culture Ministry Purges Prominent Arts Figures

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – April 11, 2014) The Russian Culture Ministry raised eyebrows this week by replacing several respected figures in two departments involving the fine arts and theater. Many admit it was high time for these experts to be rotated out of their positions. But most also suggest that the

The heady style of the heady 1990s

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Inna Fedorova, special to RBTH – April 8, 2014) The Russia of the 1990s is staunchly associated with the epithet “heady”. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the arrival of democracy gave the nation not only freedom of choice and an abundance of goods, but also organized

‘Geograf’ Picks Up Top Russian Film Award

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 2, 2014) Alexander Veledinsky’s “Geograf Globus Propil” was the big winner at this year’s Nika awards for Russian film, picking up a bundle of the top awards. The Nika, an annual Russian film award named after the Roman goddess for victory Nike, awarded prizes to the best movies of

Snowstorm Paralyzes Moscow on April Fool’s Day

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 2, 2014) A snowstorm buffeted Moscow for about 18 hours, snarling traffic and blanketing the city in a record 17 centimeters of white that many residents probably wished was an April Fool’s joke. “Winter has returned to Moscow, and this is no April Fool’s joke,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said

Most Russians believe women should stay at home

Two Babushkas file photo

(Moscow News – moscownews.com – David Burghardt – March 7, 2014) A woman’s place is in the kitchen, according to a recent poll by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM) published on Friday. According to the latest survey, 72 percent of Russians believe a woman should choose the home and family over her

Maslenitsa Weekend in Moscow

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katerina Azarova – February 28, 2014) Sunshine and pancakes: If you ask me, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s what Moscow is all about this week, because it’s Maslenitsa time! The delicious, gluttonous week of sweet and savory pancakes before Lent is finally upon us, and you should

The 10 most well-known Russian words

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexey Mikheev, special to RBTH  – January 30, 2014) Words like vodka and Kalashnikov are know around the world. But how many people realize that they come from the Russian language? Russian actively borrows words from other languages, mainly English. But there are also Russian words that travel

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