Nightlife & the Arts in Moscow
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A city of classical culture, Moscow also offers plenty of glamour and glitz. Ballet at the Bolshoi, concerts at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and theaters packed for Chekhov plays are among the highlights of the intense arts scene, while the nightlife takes in cozy cellar bars and glittering clubs for the elite.
Ticket booths on city streets testify to Muscovites' love of theater, and low prices ensure that high culture remains a mass pursuit. This enthusiasm means that the most popular shows can sell out weeks ahead, but smaller arts events, such as the regular free concerts at the Conservatory, are often equally rewarding. Although the Bolshoi's famous columned theater has been closed for repairs, the troupe still performs in a newly built venue whose elaborate interior rivals the original. On a much smaller scale, the Helikon Opera's innovative productions of classics such as Carmen gain critical raves, notwithstanding the theater's tiny stage.
The neon facades of downtown casinos and the ranks of Mercedes cars outside certain city clubs make it clear that Moscow is a city for big spenders. But you don't have to be one to have a good time. A more bohemian crowd gathers at bars and clubs that offer live concerts by local bands, cheap beers, and tasty eats. While in the past Moscow was too far off the beaten track to attract top-name Western stars, in the last year the city has seen performances by everyone from Metallica to Madonna and Elton John, so it's a good idea to check the bulletins a few weeks in advance—you never know who might be in town. Also, be sure to catch the many talented Russian musicians playing jazz and blues, as well as ethnic folk acts from other regions in Russia, such as the Tuvan throat singers who frequently appear at festivals.
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