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Moscow's Bolshoi to livestream shows for free
A man wearing a protective face mask uses his mobile phone in front of the Bolshoi theatre in downtown Moscow, where all events were cancelled in a measure to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, March 17, 2020. Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP.

MOSCOW (AFP).- The legendary Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow has announced it will broadcast its best classic performances online for free in response to new restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Bolshoi's announcement came after the Moscow mayor on Thursday ordered the closure of all non-essential services and encouraged residents to stay home.

"Our country, like the rest of the world, is experiencing a very difficult time" said Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi Theatre, announcing the digital shows.

"We've never faced this type of situation before and since we had to close the theatre we didn't want to lose our connection with our audience," he said.

The ballet and opera house said it will show six of its most popular productions on its YouTube channel beginning Friday with the Swan Lake ballet.

"We're honoured that YouTube can support the Bolshoi as they engage with fans in new ways during these challenging times," Julia Solovieva, head of Google in Russia, said in the statement.

The "Golden Collection" of the Bolshoi's most popular productions include Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, ballets scored by the Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The Bolshoi earlier cancelled all of its scheduled performances between March 17 and April 10, following restrictions on public events of more than 50 people.

Dozens of theatres and operas around the world have closed their doors to the public in recent days to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with some livestreaming shows.

Russia has recorded 840 coronavirus cases and two COVID-19 related deaths, according to official figures published Thursday.

© Agence France-Presse

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