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Friday, April 18, 2014

Impresario brings Tchaikovsky ballet to Lehman

By James Palmer
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Robert Friedman

Robert Friedman is the man responsible for bringing the Moscow Classical Ballet troupe to the Lehman Performing Arts center last weekend for their presentation of The Nutcracker.  His many tasks include reserving hotels and flights, arranging trucks to transport sets and gear and any other duty that involves ensuring the company moves efficiently forward during their American tour.

“I do everything but dance and the choreography,” Mr. Friedman said.

At 66-years-old, Mr. Friedman has spent the better part of 40 years traveling with dancers, singers, musicians and artistic directors across the country and around the world. He resides in the Richmond district of San Francisco, where he was born and raised.

At the age of 14, Mr. Friedman first started working in the performing arts business selling programs and renting opera glasses at ballet and operas at the San Francisco Opera house, where his grandfather Jerry Friedman managed concessions.

However, the impresario with a long history of working in the classic arts says many things have changed since that time — the most significant being less demand for such entertainment.

“When I was growing up, in the early days of TV, you could regularly watch operas,” Mr. Friedman said.  “Every network had it’s own orchestra.”

Today, the diminished interest in classical arts among Americans has resulted in fewer performances for Mr. Friedman’s clients with more distance between shows at greater expense.  

“It was all buses and trucks before — now it’s flights and trucks,” Mr. Friedman said, referring to the transport of performers and equipment across the country.

Meanwhile, stricter security measures have lengthened the process for international artists applying for visas to tour here.

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