July 01, 2009

Alexander Godunov

defected, August 23, 1979

when i was growing up, attending the Bolshoi Theater was an almost unimaginable treat. Of course, when I was little I was taken to see The Nutcracker, but this was followed by a rather long dry spell. Getting tickets was not easy. Then acquaintances turned up who – by hook or by crook – knew how to get us into the Bolshoi.

One of my parents’ classmates – a quiet and rather uninteresting gentleman – had two amazing traits. First, he was a direct descendant of Pushkin and, as if that were not enough, he was less directly related to Gogol. Second, he saw all the ballets at the Bolshoi several times each. It was simple – he just gave the ticket-taker an old ticket with a ruble tucked underneath. Nothing to it – we were able to make our way to the balcony, where everyone knew him and let us be. But Pushkin’s posterity had rather conservative tastes, so we usually wound up seeing things like Giselle and Swan Lake.

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