Attending the Bolshoi Theatre on Sverdlov Square in Moscow is always an exciting prospect. Once the Great Imperial Theatre, built in 1824 with a statue of Phoebus in his sun chariot above its ionic portico, it promises always a wealth of music and dance in its red and gold interior. One enters the building as if stepping into the scene on a hand-painted Palekh box, ready to be part of some Russian fairy tale. Its gilded decor was completely refurbished a few years ago and its heavy red curtains rewoven; it is only on close inspection that one discovers stitched into the rich fabric the hammer-and-sickle emblem and is reminded of the real world beyond these brilliant walls. I went to the Bolshoi first in 1970 and returned a number of times since; but never have I witnessed an audience more animated than that assembled on Friday, February 9, for a special program honoring the hundredth birthday of Boris Pasternak. That such a...


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