Valery Gergiev
(c) Cami/LSO/Alberto Venzago

Since a week bad news come from Russia: After a heavy outbreak of Covid in the Mariinsky Orchestra, the orchestra visited Moscow on tour. After the trip, dozens more artists received positive PCR tests, Russian media say. Meanwhile the Orchestra left Russia for a tour in Spain. According to what one can read in the Russian press, a large number of musicians were tested positive and had to be replaced for the tour. But Nevsky News had some truly shocking news. Musicians told this media that colleagues who tested positive for Covid were still forced to play Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser on the stage of the Mariinsky-2 on the evening of January 28. And then the bomb hits drastically: « Gergiev always does what he wants. He is the czar and we are his serfs. He has a complete sense of impunity. He is a manager, he makes money. Only sometimes there is also creativity, » a musician told Nevsky News.

The situation with Covid, according to the same musician, is a consequence of the lawlessness at the theater. « Gergiev doesn’t care about his employees, or the audience, that’s a fact. Constant changes in the schedule, late re-recordings, lengthy concerts, constant delays, delays of concerts and performances for at least 30-40 minutes … The inability to plan at least something … » Management employees who tried to do at least something good for the orchestra members were fired, said the source.

« We have a tough tyranny. The boss doesn’t like it when people are comfortable. People need to be gutted physically and emotionally. This, in his opinion, is the key to success.”

Other posts in the social media say more or less the same things. And it is true that everybody knows how Mariinsky musicians are treated. European or American orchestra members never would accept such behavior from their Music Director. I remember having attended a very low quality concert from Mariinsky in La Palmas. And it was obvious why the quality was not good. The orchestra arrived at the same hotel where I was staying in the afternoon and the musicians had barely the time to rest. After the concert they went back to the hotel but had to leave at 2 or 3 a.m. for the airport to depart for their next destination and a next concert. Gergiev is a workaholic and he probably assumes that his musicians must be too.     Remy Franck

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