Gergiev likens Putin to the composer Sergei Prokoviev "who came up with a lot of different productions". (Is this a way of saying Putin should go on and on?) Russia isn't just an oil and gas country but a country rich in poets and writers, Gergiev says. A classic piece of quality toadying, if you ask me.(I wonder what the original Russian for 'different productions' was; there is always the possibility, doubtless, that something might have been lost in translation.) Click here for a fuller report from The Guardian on the Russian people's audience with its present Tsar. For a time when Russian rulers - and just maybe, even top-ranking musicians - had a few more scruples, see below:
Putin is clearly delighted by the question. He says he loves St Petersberg [sic], where Gergiev is general and artistic director of the celebrated Mariinsky Theatre. Putin says he will do his best to support Russian culture.
Gergiev is now praising Putin, comparing him to Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great. Putin chides Gergiev for stealing artists for his theatre from Moscow's famous Bolshoi. This is all very pally.
Valery Gergiev, lest anyone need reminding, is Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. It is difficult to conceive of his predecessor, Sir Colin Davis, having behaved similarly. Imagine Sir Colin, when Music Director of the Royal Opera, calling Margaret Thatcher and likening her to Gloriana...