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In opera and ballet, the Kirov continues to innovate, even as it builds on historic strengths. Driving this winning formula are the titanic energies of its artistic director, Valery Gergiev

By Ivan Hewett   112

Few visiting opera and ballet companies bring such a tingle of anticipation as the Kirov. One reason may be its paradoxical air of being both central and interestingly marginal. Marginal, because its culture has a whiff of the exotic; central, because the company’s tradition is as weighty as anything the west can offer. This is the opera house where all Tchaikovsky’s operas were premiered, which nurtured great designers and directors like Benois and Meyerhold, and great singers, including Fyodor Chaliapin. But the ballet company’s tradition is even more stellar. It can truly claim to be the cradle of 19th-century classical…

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