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Theatre troupes from Donetsk and Luhansk to tour Russia with support of culture ministry

Theatre troupes from Donetsk and Luhansk to tour Russia with support of culture ministry
Donetsk National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre

6 May 2015

A number of theatres in the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine will go on tour in Russia this year as part of the Russian Ministry of Culture’s federal programme. Marking the first time the ministry has targeted support for foreign groups from the Donbass region, the next six months will see seven arts institutions, including the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, Luhansk Music and Drama Theatre and Donetsk Puppet Theatre, visit Russia.

“The fact that Donetsk and Luhansk theatre life is still going on in the midst of the Ukrainian conflict is a civil feat,” a spokesperson for the culture ministry said. “The organisation of a Russian tour is the least we can do for the people who today come to the defence of our common historical and cultural values.”

Tours will start later this week with the Luhansk Philharmonic’s visit to Penza, Rostov-on-Don, and other cities in the region, while the Donetsk Opera Theatre will travel to Moscow in June. The Donetsk theatre will only be performing scenes and extracts from works, due to the reduction of performers currently able to work in the troupe, according to the theatre’s choreographer Valery Popov.

“First, we will perform La Sylphide, the adagio from the ballet Romeo and Juliet, and a scene from the ballet Le Corsaire,” Popov said. “Unfortunately, at the moment we are not in a position to perform the full works due to the fact that the troupe has been split up because of the situation in the region. But we really want to show the quality of our work rather than bring shame on ourselves, because our theatre has always been well thought-of in Russia.”

Russian support for the arts in the separatist-held regions of east Ukraine courted media attention last December, when Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko came under a hail of criticism after posing for a photo holding the flag of the self-declared territory of Novorossia. Netrebko used the opportunity to pledge 1m roubles ($20,000) to the Donetsk Opera Theatre, but then alleged not to have not known what the flag represented.