15 september 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the State Theatre of Nations

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the State Theatre of Nations, where he observed a tradition of the theatre and hammered into the stage a silver coin issued the year the theatre was founded.

Artistic director of the theatre Yevgeny Mironov met Vladimir Putin at the front stairs. Mr Mironov limped due to a torn ligament he sustained in rehearsal. He had to walk with a cane. "Why did they cripple you?" the prime minister asked the artistic director. "I could not keep my balance," Mironov said.

Vladimir Putin began his visit by admiring the building's façade. "One hundred and twenty six years have passed, and now we are opening the theatre again," Yevgeny Mironov said. In the main foyer, Yevgeny Mironov showed the prime minister a small photo exhibition illustrating the 20-year process of renovating the theatre. Work began in earnest just four years ago. The artistic director showed Vladimir Putin how dilapidated the building had been. Vladimir Putin was also told that the audience hall was given its historic look during renovations. The stage was outfitted with lighting and mechanical equipment, an electro-acoustical system, communications, alarm system, television system, and so forth. The theatre also now has small stage with a rehearsal hall, and a number of technical, storage, and administrative rooms that the historic building lacked.

Vladimir Putin was also told that the planning and design of the main hall have been preserved as much as possible. There are 600 chairs in the hall. They were reproduced based on the only remaining original chair.

Mr Mironov invited Vladimir Putin onto the stage and told him about a tradition of the theatre: hammering a silver coin issued the year the theatre was founded into the stage. "This is a good way of checking the acoustics," Yevgeny Mironov said. A silver rouble from 1885 and a hammer had been placed on the edge of the stage.

"Amazing! Where did you get it?" Vladimir Putin felt the weight of the coin in his hand, placed it on the stage, and hammered a nail into the coin about one third of the way through. Then the prime minister passed the hammer to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyabin, who accompanied him on the trip.

"So you can help the theatre," the prime minister said.

"It will cost a lot," the Moscow mayor answered. Next the hammer was passed to Yevgeny Mironov, who struck one more symbolic blow and asked Vladimir Putin to finish the job.

Standing on the stage, the prime minister looked at the auditorium again. He said the artistic director can make the theatre as popular as in the 19th century. "You have every opportunity for that. You have selected such wonderful actors... Now you've got your own stage. I think it is going to be a beautiful place," Vladimir Putin said.

At the end of his visit, the prime minister attended a rehearsal for the opening night.

The theatre does not have a permanent company. Actors must audition for roles. Today Chulpan Khamatova, Ulyana Lopatkina, Anastasia Vertinskaya, and other actors spoke with the prime minster. Vladimir Putin approached the big white piano behind the curtains and played the song "From Where the Motherland Begins". The Terem Quartet and the actors began singing along. "It's like we're putting on a concert," Yevgeny Mironov said.