MOSCOW: The Bolshoi Theatre on Monday presented its new musical director who has been appointed to help restore the tarnished reputation of the scandal-ridden theatre.
Tugan Sokhiev, a 36-year-old conductor who studied in Saint Petersburg, is currently musical director of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (ONCT) and of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO Berlin).
On Monday, the Bolshoi's general director Vladimir Urin presented Sokhiev to journalists, calling him "one of the most in-demand young conductors in the West."
Sokhiev succeeds 66-year-old Vasily Sinyaisky, who suddenly resigned in December, two weeks before he was due to conduct a much-anticipated new staging of Verdi's opera "Don Carlos".
"This is an impeccable choice that will improve the Bolshoi's image. Sokhiev is a professional who has an impeccable technique and a big soul," music critic Pyotr Pospelov told AFP.
"He is young, but he has experience as a conductor."
Music critic Ilya Ovchinnikov added: "It is young conductors like him who should take up key posts in order to change the situation."
The Bolshoi is attempting to repair the damage from a series of scandals.
Former ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko is now serving a six-year sentence for an acid attack last January on the ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin, who suffered serious eye injuries.
In the aftermath of the attack, the government sacked the long-serving general director of the Bolshoi Theatre, Anatoly Iksanov.
One of the Bolshoi's star dancers, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who had conducted a highly public feud against Iksanov in the media, also left the venerable establishment.
Sokhiev, like Russia's star conductor Valery Gergiev, comes from the North Ossetia region and studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.
He became the musical director of the ONCT in Toulouse in southwestern France in 2008, while in 2012 he took up the same position at the DSO Berlin.
Under the terms of his four-year contract with the Bolshoi, Sokhiev will only be conducting its orchestra next season so he can honour his obligations with other orchestras.
"I will keep up my relationships with the orchestras that I work with, while spending more and more time with the Bolshoi," Sokhiev said Monday.