The 36-year-old Ossetian has taken on one of the most difficult posts in the Russian music business, but he plans to continue his work in Berlin.
Tugan Sokhiev, principal conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester (DSO) Berlin, has been named as artistic director at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater. "The contract will be drawn up for four years beginning on February 1," said Bolshoi's director general, Vladimir Urin, to the news agency Interfax.
Urin added that he understands the young maestro also has other commitments to maintain, saying, "We've agreed that Tugan will get involved with the theater's affairs step by step." Sokhiev will first take the conductor's podium for the upcoming 2014/2015 season and lead two productions.
In recent months, there's been much hand-wringing at Russia's top theater about who should assume the post. The search began when the previous artistic director Vassily Sinaisky stepped down, ending his Bolshoi contract just two weeks ahead of the premiere of his "Don Carlo" production. He described the situation in the theater as "unbearable," and Bolshoi representatives declined to comment on his sudden leave.
Top candidates for Sinaisky's successor in Moscow included Vladimir Jurowski and Theodor Courrentzis, but Sokhiev was the only one in the position to make the new post fit into his schedule.
The Bolshoi has high expectations for its new artistic director, particularly in terms of opera productions, which have stagnated since the reopening of the historic stage in 2011. Vladimir Urin became the Bolshoi's general director six months ago.
"I didn't actually want to take the post," Urin said in an interview with DW. "But Bolshoi is one of the leading opera houses in the world. In order to keep it that way, there's only one thing to do: work."
Congratulations from Berlin
"We're all very happy for Tugan because we know that he really likes to conduct operas as well as his symphonic repertoire," said DSO managing director Alexander Steinbeis. "Being invited to a venue as prestigious as the Bolshoi will certainly present him with major challenges."
But Sokhiev's new engagement will change little for the DSO. "We have committed to a certain number of tours and programs, and we'll of course be sticking to them," said Steinbeis. However, extending Tugan Sokhiev's contract in Berlin, which expires in 2016, is questionable in light of his new job in Moscow. Alexander Steinbeis put it diplomatically, saying, "Both parties are working under the assumption that this successful collaboration will continue even after the contract has run."