Legend has it that shortly after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Sergei Eisenstein staged Die Walküre at the Bolshoi.
It’s not really a legend. It’s true. And why shouldn’t it be, narrowly speaking? Long before Eisenstein, Russia’s imperial opera companies had performed Der Ring in St. Petersburg in 1907, and in Moscow in 1913, and Wagner had conducted the Prelude and the finale of Act III from Tristan und Isolde — for the first time together — in St. Petersburg in 1863. Despite WWI and the Revolution, the Russian Wagnerian tradition couldn’t have died out without a trace by 1940.
And still, it’s hard to believe — Die Walküre at the Bolshoi in 1940. So contrary to the aesthetics of the emerging communist empire.