March 29, 2020

Homebound a la Russe

Homebound a la Russe

Theaters, museums, cinemas and libraries have all closed this month as the Russian government has moved to cut down on crowded venues. The soft lock-down (people are still allowed to walk outside, and public transit is open) is making culture venues especially reach out to their audiences. Now you can visit the Bolshoi Theater or the Tretyakov Gallery from the comfort of your own home. 

We've compiled some of the best options for Russian-style self-isolating. This page will be updated with more great offerings. Enjoy!


Classical music lovers will appreciate a series put on by the Moscow Conservatory this month called "Home Seasons." The program was kicked off by pianist Denis Matsuev, who played in an empty conservatory to an online audience of some 1.5 million on March 20. That concert is still available online. 

Tune in to watch concerts streamed from the conservatory to an exclusively online audience, or to see pre-recorded shows, for example, a 2013 concert of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who died of cancer in 2017 will be aired on April 2.


If you're in the mood for ballet, tune in to the Bolshoi Theater's special online series, which started Friday with Swan Lake. Russia's legendary theater will be streaming some of its best classics over the next few days, starting shows at 7 PM Moscow time on its official YouTube channel. The shows will be available for the next 24 hours on the channel for people from inconvenient time zones.

On Saturday, the theater streamed Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, starring greats Svetlana Zakharova and David Hallberg, who has since departed the Bolshoi's troupe.


To watch other great productions Russia, check out the online program created by the Golden Mask festival (the festival had to cancel most of its shows this year because of the outbreak). Some of the best plays from previous years are available here.

Another platform is the culture ministry's Big Tour program done to build audiences for smaller or regional theaters. Go to their page to see offerings for that particular day, usually streamed at 7 PM Moscow time. 


Streamings are also organized by Moscow's Department of Tourism, which will be offering both theatrical and gastronomical programs on its website "Moscow is with you." Tune in for 7 PM shows or twice-a-week online food preparation classes by capital chefs. The department has also compiled online programs from the city's various museums.

The Tretyakov Gallery has introduced online tours and lectures in a program called Tretyakovka at Home. Streamed on YouTube and Facebook, it gives the audience a chance to ask lectors and presenters questions. The program for the coming week has not yet been put online, but you can sign up to their mailing list or follow the museum's page on Facebook. And of course, view any of the past events. Unfortunately for non-Russian-speakers, they all seem to be in Russian only.

The State Hermitage calls its program Cultured Isolation: every day, it publishes recommended videos on a particular subject, showing viewers the secrets of storing stained glass, or explaining why Peter the Great had a great admiration of all things Dutch. Most of the streamed Russian programs can be found on the museum's YouTube channel

It is also preparing an English-language program, to begin airing soon, and last week it took Italians on a tour of the Winter Palace, in solidarity with Italy's museums and the mounting coronavirus toll in the country. 

Speaking of the Hermitage, perhaps you missed this 5-hour tour filmed on an iPhone earlier this month, which gathered over a million views. 


Finally, some new opportunities to watch movies have appeared in recent days, as cinemas have shuttered.

Kinopoisk, an online streaming platform owned by Yandex, has offered free service until the end of April. While a lot of the fare is Hollywood-made, some Russian films are also available. You can even indulge in some Russian-made series like Anna Nikolaevna, a freshly-made production about an android policewoman who is sent to work in provincial Russian town. (the free access code is POKAVSEDOMA)

Moscow's Center for Documentary Film has launched a platform with a free online subscription for ten days. Watch documentary classics, little-known festival items, and recently-released films like Russian Georgians, narrated by Leonid Parfyonov.

And for kids, Russian animation studio SoyuzMultfilm is publishing short animation films at 10AM Moscow time daily, as part of its festival SoyuzMultQuarantine.

And let's not forget the great site of Mosfilm, which allows one to view loads of films online for free.

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