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Bolshoi Theatre Launches YouTube Channel

Russia's famed Bolshoi Theatre has launched its own YouTube channel, with live transmissions of performances available free of charge for Russian viewers.

The newly launched Bolshoi YouTube channel was top news across Russia. Why? Well, because tickets to the famous landmark have gotten hard to come by since it reopened earlier this year, after seven years of renovations.

Ticket prices can range anywhere from $30 to thousands of dollars. Scalping rings have been uncovered and many people have been arrested for trying to sell the coveted tickets for exorbitant prices. And those sums can be out of reach for many Russians, who have an average salary of $1,000 a month.

The Bolshoi has been feeding live video transmissions of performances to movie theaters across the world since 2010. Now, theater lovers across the country can watch the famous performances from the comfort of their own homes.

Anton Getman, deputy general director of the Bolshoi, says Russian Internet users who have the opportunity to go onto the Bolshoi Theatre's YouTube channel will be able to see an entire performance, which is filmed and transmitted live, completely free of charge, at the same time as audiences sitting in thousands of movie theatres worldwide and the audience sitting in this hall.

Andrei Merkuryev, a lead dancer with the theater, says he’s really excited about the channel because it gives everyone the opportunity to experience culture, regardless of their financial situation.

"I remember when I was little, during Soviet times, they often showed ballet on TV. Now, of course, it's begun again - the culture (TV) channel shows us opera and ballet shows - but you'd like to see more of it because not everyone can come to the Bolshoi Theatre or to another theater," he said. "Everyone has their own life, their financial capabilities, and today we have the opportunity for people to come to a movie theater, get on the Internet, and watch without spending practically any money at all," he said.

Bolshoi Deputy General Director Getman says watching the company’s many ballet, opera and theater performances on YouTube may even be better than going to see it live.

He says that during the intermission -- or the intermissions if there are two of them -- the audience in the theater goes to the buffet, they walk around the foyer. But for audiences sitting at the computer or in movie theaters, the camera takes them backstage, and they can see what happens backstage during the intermission. They get the opportunity to listen to interviews with artists, with directors, and to see the inner workings of the theater, which audiences who bought a ticket for the theater hall can't see.

The first live YouTube performance at the Bolshoi was shown on March 11.