The Bolshoi Opera's general director Vladimir Urin announced the appointment of Turgan Sokhiev, aged 36, as Music Director effective next week - 1st February. The sudden change was preciptated by the resignation in December of Vassily Siniasky, two weeks before the premiere of a new Verdi Don Carlo. Urin described Sokhiev as "one of the most in-demand young conductors in the West."
Sokhiev has not conducted the Bolshoi before, though he was for about a year Music Director at the Welsh National Opera. He conducts the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (ONCT) and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO Berlin) and guests elsewhere, including with the Philharmonia in London.
Sokhiev's appointment comes at a critical point for the Bolshoi. Upheavals in the Bolshoi Ballet notwithstranding, the Bolshoi Opera, according to the Moscow Times , "since the resignation of Alexander Lazarev 19 years ago, the Bolshoi has lacked the strong musical leadership it enjoyed under an unbroken succession of notable conductors from near the beginning of the 20th century, among them, in addition to Lazarev, such outstanding figures in the musical life of Russia as Samuil Samosud, Nikolai Golovanov, Alexander Melik-Pashaev, Yevgeny Svetlanov and Gennady Rozhdestvensky" .
Of all Russian-born opera conductors, bar Gergiev and Bychkov, Vladimir Jurowski has the widest repertoire, and the highest profile. He would have been ideal for the Bolshoi, but he's a relative outsider in St Petersburg. He studied in Moscow, moving west aged 18. He's possibly too "international". Sokhiev, on the other hand trained with the St Petersburg elite, under the famous Ilya Musin, ( d 1999) whose students included Rudolf Barshai, Semyon Bychkov, Caetany, Siniasky, Temirakov, Yakov Kreisberg and Valery Gergiev. Perhaps it is significant that Sokhiev, like Gergiev, hails from Ossetia.
According to the Moscow Times "Unlike his predecessor, Anatoly Iksanov, Urin seems determined to take a hands-on approach when it comes to shaping the future of opera and ballet at the Bolshoi......"For me, it was important in principle," said Urin, "that the new conductor be from Russia … a person who could speak with people in the theater in a common language. It was also important to know what this person believed in and how he viewed contemporary musical theater"