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David Remnick • Danse Macabre
On Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, its uncanny knack for reflecting changes in Russian politics and culture, and the recent acid attack on its artistic director.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, in 1991, and the economy went into free fall, the Bolshoi lost millions in subsidies. The annual budget for the theatre dropped to twelve million dollars, hardly enough to pay the dancers, the coaches, and the staff, let alone develop new ballets. Then, a decade ago, Russia came into its own as an oil-and-gas economy. The federal budget stabilized and the Russian government hired Iksanov, who was soon able to bring the budget up to a hundred and twenty million dollars. Iksanov also hired McKinsey, the management consultancy, to help reconfigure salaries and ticket prices, and set up an outside board of directors; it attracted a small stream of oligarchs who were pleased to pay the still modest annual sum of three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to sit on the board.
The greatest achievement at the Bolshoi is the one nobody talks about anymore-the end of ideological control. The last time anyone in power, or on the streets, tried to restrict the repertory in a serious way was in 2005, when the Bolshoi Theatre staged the opera "Rosenthal's Children," a political fantasia written by the novelist Vladimir Sorokin and the composer Leonid Desyatnikov. Sorokin's libretto featured the homosexual coupling of the clones of Stalin and Khrushchev, an encounter between Mozart and a prostitute, a murderous futuristic pimp, and other details sure to get the attention of cultural conservatives. There were street demonstrations led by a pro-Kremlin youth group, during which Sorokin's novels were shredded and put in a makeshift toilet bowl, and hearings in the State Duma. In the end, the protests fizzled and Anatoly Iksanov thanked the legislators for the extra publicity.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America's Cross Hairs
Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage • New York Times
The legal and practical details behind the drone strikes that killed two U.S. citizens.
The missile strike on Sept. 30, 2011, that killed Mr. Awlaki - a terrorist leader whose death lawyers in the Obama administration believed to be justifiable - also killed Mr. Khan, though officials had judged he was not a significant enough threat to warrant being specifically targeted. The next month, another drone strike mistakenly killed Mr. Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who had set off into the Yemeni desert in search of his father. Within just two weeks, the American government had killed three of its own citizens in Yemen. Only one had been killed on purpose.