What is it about?

Theaters are very expensive, and money and resources tight in wartime. During WWI, governments cut down most theater subsidies. However, this was not the case in the USSR after the start of the German-Soviet war in 1941, even if opera does not spring in mind as a "socialist" art form. I explain why the Soviets committed to preserving the Bolshoi even during the critical winter months of 1941-1942, and why the rest of the war was a relatively favorable period for the Bolshoi both in political and economic terms.

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Why is it important?

Studying theater, the most expensive part of culture industry, in a war economy can contribute both to our understanding of state-centered perspectives of cultural policies, and to cultural institutions' strategies of survival in extremis. The article also introduces new archival material which may contribute to comparative histories of theater.


This is part of a project on European theater during WWII that the author hopes to pursue once the current pandemic abates.

Alexander Golovlev
HSE University

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This page is a summary of: Balancing the Books and Staging Operas under Duress: Bolshoi Theater Management, Wartime Economy and State Sponsorship in 1941–1945, Russian History, September 2021, Brill Deutschland GmbH, DOI: 10.30965/18763316-12340016.
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