After 6 Years Of Restoration The Bolshoi Is Ready To Reopen

Six years and $700 million later, the Bolshoi Theater is set to open

Phaedra Singelis writes…

I went to this theater once before the refurbishing and I thought it was beautiful then. I can’t imagine how exciting it must be for Moscow residents to see this wonderful place restored and reopened after such a long time. The theater, home of the famous Bolshoi Ballet, has survived three fires,  bombing during WWII and at one time was set over an underground river.

Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
A view of the main hall of the renovated Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 8 The reconstruction and restoration works of the Bolshoi Theatre took six years; the Grand Opening is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Anton Golubev / Reuters
The foyer of Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre Oct. 24.

Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
The main hall of the renovated Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Oct.8.

Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP – Getty Images
The so-called ‘Czar’s Box’ in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, on Oct. 8. The restored Moscow landmark built in the 1820s is due to reopen on October 28.

Anton Golubev / Reuters
Visitors walk in the newly refurbished foyer of Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre Oct. 24. Moscow’s historic theatre is set to reopen with a gala performance on Friday after six years of closure for renovation.

Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP – Getty Images
People take photos in front of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, on Sep. 27.

Factbox: Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre to reopen after revamp

Russia’s Bolshoi Theater reopens on Friday after a more than six-year renovation that cost at least $700 million.

Here are some key facts about the theater:


* The Bolshoi Theater was founded by a decree of Empress Catherine the Great in 1776 which gave Prince Pyotr Urusov, chief procurator of the Moscow region, the exclusive privilege of operating a private theater in Moscow. It obliged him “to build a stone building that would decorate the city and also serve as the premises for public masquerades, comedies and comic operas.”

* The current building was built in 1825 to replace the Petrovka Theater, which had been destroyed by fire in 1805. As opera and ballet were considered nobler than drama, the opera house was named the Grand Theater (Bolshoi being the Russian for large or grand).


— The Bolshoi has seen many historic premieres including Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s La Voyavoda and Mazeppa, and Sergei Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Francesca da Rimini.

Russia’s “two tenors,” Ivan Kozlovsky and Sergei Lemeshev, were two of its most popular singers. They reigned supreme at the Bolshoi for years during the 20th century.

— After World War Two, the Bolshoi became a dominant force in ballet, not just in Russia but throughout the world, producing stars including ballerinas Galina Ulanova, Maria Plisetskaya and Ekaterina Maksimovna, and male dancers such as Vladimir Vasiliev and Maris Liepa.

— Russian ballet troupes have been trying to wean themselves off the classic repertoire so loved by their countrymen and embrace the minimalism of modern dance, but often have faced resistance from theatres and audiences alike. The Bolshoi plans to stick to a classic repertoire, its general director says.


— The main Bolshoi theater is reopening after a six-year restoration that has installed modern stage technology and repaired run-down areas of the theater.

— Started in 2005, the reconstruction of the interior of the main hall and stage, including the refurbishment of an interior that was once paneled with rare pine and gilded by hand with real gold before the Soviets replaced them with sound-absorbent cement and copper.

— The theater is gaining a second stage with a sound-reflecting floor coating — specifically designed for opera — and a ballet stage returned to its once-famous four-degree angle that is able to absorb impact, making jumping safer for dancers.

— The number of seats will shrink from 2,200 to 1,720 for the main stage, by replacing the rigid Soviet-era seats with ones that are wider and more comfortable. As the Bolshoi will perform on two stages, touring will have to be cut.

— The theatre’s 236th season opened last month with The Golden Cockerel, an opera based on a fairy tale by 19th century writer Alexander Pushkin.

— The first foreign troupe to perform on the revamped stage will be Italy’s La Scala orchestra and choir with Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem.

Sources: Reuters 

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