The Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre is truly more than just an “Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”. The status of the Imperial Theatre determined his history for good. The Bolshoi has not had and could not have had “just artists”, “just performances” and “just art” – every gesture and note had a national significance.

The list of legendary artists, real national geniuses who performed on the Bolshoi’s stage, is endless: Fedor Shalyapin, Leonid Sobinov, Antonina Nezhdanova, Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Marina Semenova … The Bolshoi Theatre has always been a theatre of national classics with consistent ideology. It is a theatre of tradition, and even the avant-garde here looks respectable.

The Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre – the Facade

Visiting the Bolshoi became the same special ritual event as going to the Kremlin. The shrine of art “outperforms” the art itself. It’s not so important what is performed, it’s more crucial to be here, to walk along the White foyer, to see the famous golden curtain.

The Bolshoi Theatre celebrates its birthday twice a year – in March and in January. The March celebration is connected with the date of the troupe founding on March 17, 1776. Prince Peter Urusov received permission from Empress Catherine the Second to create the theatre. Almost immediately, the construction works began, but the theatre was not to be open – all the buildings were lost during the first fire.

The construction work was completed by the Englishman Michael Medox, the companion of Prince Urusov. His theatre, named after the nearest street as Petrovsky, was there for 25 years – until the next fire. The new theatre was built at Arbat Square, the construction of the building was led by K. Rossi himself. But this time the theatre was completely destroyed – it was burned away during the invasion of Napoleon. It was decided to rebuild the theatre again at Petrovka Street, and the construction of the magnificent eight-column building (under the project suggested by A.Mikhailov, the principal of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts and by the direction of architect O. Bove) was completed by 1821.

The Bolshoi Theatre inside

The luxury of The Bolshoi Theatre

That is how the Bolshoi Theatre that we all have a knowledge of was created. Its opening ceremony took place on January 6, 1825 – this date is considered to be its second birth day. On this solemn day the performance “The Triumph of the Muses” by M. Dmitriev was organized (music by A.Alyabiev and A.Verstovsky).

The heyday of the Bolshoi Theatre is at the end of the 19- 20 centuries. At this time, Russian opera singers such as Fedor Shalyapin, Leonid Sobinov and Antonina Nezhdanova, composer and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff are becoming famous throughout the world. Famous ‘The World of Art’’s members such as Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Benois, Alexander Golovin take part in the production of art-directors in the creation of performances.

Falsework, having hidden the facade of the building for almost ten years, were dismantled on May 9, 2010. The famous quadriga by P. Klodt reappeared over the portico of the theatre in 1853, during the restoration works after another severe fire, that almost completely destroyed the building. Prior to that, an alabaster sculpture of Apollo was installed above the entrance, which was also to be lost in a fire. At the same time, a two-headed eagle was installed on the pediment – the state emblem of the Russian Empire. Today the main symbol of the theatre was completely restored as part of the restoration of the Bolshoi Theatre. Now Apollo and his chariot are covered with a special protective layer to stand up for atmospheric precipitation.

The entrance of the Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre – The entrance and colonnade

The Bolshoi Theatre first appeared on Russian banknotes in 1993 – that were banknotes worth a hundred thousand rubles. On one side the facade of the Bolshoi Theatre is depicted, and on the other, the above-mentioned Apollo riding his chariot. By the way, Russian hundred rubles note is considered the sexiest banknote in the world, thanks to the image of a quadriga with a naked Greek god. That was the idea of honoured Russian artist I. Krylov, who was the main artist of Goznak at that time.

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