Russia's most celebrated living director on Sunday parted company with the theatre he has led for almost a half century, accusing its actors of only being interested in money.
Yuri Lyubimov, 93, who founded Moscow's Taganka Theatre in 1964, fell out with the acting troupe in a dispute over pay while on tour in the Czech Republic and said he had no intention of working with them any more.
"I confirm I have taken my final decision -- to leave the theatre," the director declared to the RIA Novosti news agency late on Saturday.
"I have no intention of working with this troupe. Let them be led by their trade union. I've had enough of this disgrace, these humiliations, this lack of desire to work, this desire just for money."
The scandal erupted before a performance of Brecht's classic morality play "The Good Person of Szechwan" when the actors refused to rehearse unless they were paid first.
His wife Katalin told RIA Novosti that to keep the show going Lyubimov paid the actors out of his own pocket but then vowed never to work with them again.
Yuri Lyubimov commented: "Clearly this is a loss of prestige for the country, for Russian theatre. But, it seems, the actors don't give a damn."
Although Lyubimov has become somewhat notorious in the last years by repeatedly threatening -- in true theatrical style -- to quit, he confirmed to Echo Moscow radio Sunday "that my decision to depart is final".
Speaking to the same radio, Katalin Lyubimova denounced the actors as an "uncontrollable band who just want money and don't want to work", adding that the theatre would now be headed by a trade union committee.
One of the theatre's main actresses, Tatyana Sidorenko, denied that the actors had threatened to torpedo the performance, telling Echo Moscow that "we just wanted to be paid money for our work".
Lyubimov was one of the giants of Soviet theatre, winning fame not only in Russia but also abroad for hugely visual and experimental spectacles that transcended language.
He was acclaimed as the heir to the innovative director Vsevolod Meyerhold, who was executed in the Stalin purges after changing the the face of Russian and world theatre.
Lyubimov dazzled the Soviet public with his productions until 1984 when he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship after giving an interview to the Times newspaper while putting on a play in London.
But with the onset of perestroika, Lyubimov returned to Moscow in triumph in 1988 and retained his near mythical status after the collapse of the Soviet Union, still putting on new productions in his nineties.
He was particularly known for his work with the actor Vladimir Vysotsky who won immense fame for songs containing unusually sharp social commentary and died aged just 42 in 1980 in during the Moscow Olympics.
Lyubimov first ran into major trouble with the Soviet authorities 1980 when they banned his play about the late Vysotsky. In 1982 his production of Pushkin's politically loaded "Boris Godunov" was also banned.
After his citizenship was annulled, his name was famously removed from all programmes and posters at the theatre, making him something of an icon for the dissident movement.
Both banned plays were triumphantly revived after his return in the late 1980s and he won back his Soviet passport and position as the theatre's artistic director.