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Culture news, 06.07.2005 13:43

Music Hall to Fight Fine for 'Nord-Ost'

Musical The St. Petersburg Music Hall says it will appeal against a Moscow Arbitration Court ruling that said it must pay the producers of musical "Nord-Ost" about 10 million rubles ($350,000), the theater's director, Alexander Platunov, said Monday.

The award was made for the Music Hall breaching its contract with the production company to stage the musical, which was at the center of a Moscow hostage crisis in 2002. The Music Hall refused to let the musical be performed in the hall in September last year, saying that the hall was in urgent need of repairs.

Platunov said the hall will hire more experienced lawyers than those it had used to date.

The verdict was released Thursday. The fine to be exacted from Music Hall in compensation for the production company's losses, included refund of an advance payment of $15,000, which the theater had not returned, Interfax reported.

"I consider the verdict unfair, otherwise we wouldn't have contested the lawsuit," Platunov said Monday in a written response to faxed questions. "I'll be able to comment on the situation in more detail when we receive the papers on the verdict of the Moscow Arbitration Court in 10 days."

"As soon as we receive it, an appeal will be prepared," he added.

Georgy Vasilyev, the musical's producer, said he had tried to compromise with the St. Petersburg city government's culture committee and the Music Hall before the court case started, Interfax reported.

The Music Hall is owned by the city property committee and operates under the authority of the culture committee.

Nord-Ost's lawyer Marina Popova welcomed the ruling.

"St. Petersburg courts have declared the contract between "Nord-Ost" and the Music Hall valid twice this spring, and it's become the crucial argument in the Moscow lawsuit," she said.

The Music Hall had had to consult the property committee before signing the contract with "Nord-Ost" because the commitments involved for the theater were greater than the money available on its account and the total cost of its property.

The committee lodged a claim to the St. Petersburg Arbitration Court, arguing the contract was invalid, but the claim was rejected. The authorities then went on to file an appeal, supported by the city prosecutor's office, but it wasn't satisfied either.

Vasilyev said he is ready to forgo the fine provided that "Nord-Ost" is staged in St.-Petersburg under license. However, the culture committee's heads rejected the offer without putting forward any alternative, the report said.

"The utter refusal of the St.-Petersburg authorities to allow "Nord-Ost" on the Music Hall stage must be connected to the coming reconstruction of the Mariinsky Theater", Rosbalt reported Friday. "The 'Mariinka' is supposed to move to the Music Hall stage for a few years."

Platunov said there had been several attempts to make a compromise.

The Music Hall's administration had suggested that "Nord-Ost" be performed in St.-Petersburg at any other time convenient for the production company, but in response Georgy Vasilyev suggested that we should buy the license to produce the musical, Platunov said.

He estimated the cost of the license would be 10 million rubles.

The Music Hall has neither the resources nor the will to produce its own "Nord-Ost." "So unfortunately we didn't manage to compromise," Platunov said.

The theater's former director Anzhela Khachaturyan canceled the performance less than a month before the opening night.

The music hall's official reason for refusing to host "Nord-Ost" was the dilapidated condition of the stage. The massive sets of the musical were said to be too heavy to be installed.

City Hall assigned a special commission to investigate into the problem. It confirmed that the fragile stage would not able to cope with the musical's sets and announced the Music Hall would close for renovation soon.

"The stage equipment was indeed being repaired in Sept.-Oct. 2004. A significant sum of 4.5 million rubles was spent for that purpose. That renovation has allowed the Music Hall to function properly since Dec. 2004," Platunov said.

"Nord-Ost" has been performed in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Tyumen, but its further tour of the country has been delayed due to financial problems caused by the cancellation of the show in St. Petersburg, Interfax reported.

News source: www.sptimes.ru

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