Rupert Christiansen

Dancing on Thin Ice

Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today

By Simon Morrison

Fourth Estate 507pp £20 order from our bookshop

Don’t be misled by the tabloid melodrama implicit in this book’s title. If it leads you to expect a shock-horror exposé and conspiracy theories involving the KGB and double-agent ballerinas, you will be disappointed.

Simon Morrison is a respected musicologist based at Princeton and an expert on Prokofiev. He writes in clean and lucid prose and is a meticulous researcher who has patiently sifted through the archives and arrived at measured conclusions. Yet although he doesn’t deal in gossip or sensationalism, his chronicle of Moscow’s hallowed opera house and its links to Russian regimes of all stripes makes gripping and fascinating reading.

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