This is a giggle-free zone


July 11, 2005 by AK

A conservative when it came to theater, Mikhail Bulgakov was skeptical of Vsevolod Meyerhold’s avant-guard productions. In The Fateful Eggs (1925), Bulgakov wrote of a “theater named after Vsevolod Meyerhold, who, as is well known, died in 1927 during a Boris Godunov rehearsal when trapezes with naked boyars came down crashing.”

(In real life, Meyerhold was executed in 1940 as a “Japanese spy.”)

The “naked boyars” came to my mind again when I came across a curious discussion at a Russian musical forum. Once again, it was about the Tristan und Isolde at the Mariinsky; one participant saw an early performance, the other a later one:

“By the way, did they remove the Girl with a Vacuum Cleaner from Act Two?”
“No, they didn’t but there were no giggles from the audience.”


  1. J.Cassian says:

    You’ve got to wonder whether you have to have your sense of the ridiculous surgically removed before you’re allowed to become a director nowadays. My favourite is Richard Jones: Wotan with a traffic cone on his head. IIRC Bernard Haitink burst into tears when he saw Jones’ proposal for “The Ring”.

  2. Alex(ei) says:

    Well, that makes gods in business suits look like a sober, moderate idea.

  3. […] 2, 1940, at 65. Bulgakov died on March 10, 1940, of hypertensive neurosclerosis, at 49. In 2005, I quoted that snippet from The Golden Eggs to poke fun at Dmitry Chernyakov’s opera productions. I […]

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