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The Bolshoi Theatre

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To view any photo at full size, click on it. All photos are, unless stated other wise, copyright Wayne and Patricia Primeau. All Rights Reserved.
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Bolshoi TheatreDuring our stay in Moscow we were fortunate to see a number of operas and ballets at the world famous Boshoi Theatre. The Bolshoi Theatre Company was founded in 1776. At first it gave performances in a private home, but it was able to acquire the Petrovka Theatre in 1780 at which time it began producing plays and operas.

Bolshoi TheatreBolshoi Theatre The Petrovka Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1805. The current building, designed by Osip Bove, was built in 1825 near the Maly Theatre, also designed by Bove, on Teatralnaya Ploshads (Theatre Square) to replace it. At that time, opera and ballet were considered to be more noble than drama. Thus, the opera house was named the "Grand Theatre" (Bolshoi in Russian means large or grand), and the drama theatre was called "Smaller Theatre" (Maly meaning little or small in Russian).

The theatre saw its first performance on 18 January 1825. In 1853 a fire caused extensive damage. It was closed for repairs and reopened in 1856. It was the site of the proclaimation of the new USSR in 1922. This was probably saved its existence as Lenin, in his desire to eradicate all vestiages of the middle and upper classes, intended to have it torn down. During WWII the theatre was damaged in a German bombing raid, but was promptly repaired as a symbol of the Russian resolve to endure and triumph. The Bolshoi desperately needs major structural renovations. It is to be closed for extensive repairs as soon as sufficient funds have been raised. The theatre's companies will continue to perform in another venue during the period of reconstruction, estimated at three years.

The Bolshoi has been the site of many historic premieres including Tchaikovsky's La Voyavoda and Mazeppa, and Rachmaninoff's Aleko and Francesca da Rimini.

bolshoi interiorTzar's Box chandelierThe building itself is magnificent in its old-world splendor. The hall is adorned with red and gilt trim throughout. The theatre curtain, a relic of the Soviet era, is adorned with CCP and the hammar and sickle insignia in red and gold. A huge Soviet crest surmounts the "Tzar's Box" (middle photo). A magnificent chandelier (right-most photo) hangs from the centre of the celing, which is also decorated with painted figures circling around it. The hall is adorned with red and gilt trim throughout.

Bolshoi theatre interior This photo of the interior of the Opera was downloaded from Wikipedia. It's use is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License, all rights reserved.

plaque about formation of USSRThis plaque is on one side of the front facade of the Theatre. It states that "In the building of the Bolshoi Theatre the first all-union congress of Soviets on 30 December 1922 proclaimed the formation of the USSR and and accepted declarations and agreements regarding the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics".

statue of EngelsBolshoi Theatre Teatralnaya Square (right) with the Bolshoi Theatre, showing a statue of Friedrich Engels (far right) in the foreground, is photographed from the Metropol Hotel, also a Moscow landmark.

Hotel MetropolHotel Metropol The Hotel Metropol (far right) occupies the other side of Teatralnaya Square. It was built in 1903 and is the only hotel in Moscow designed in the art-nouveau style (detail of mosaic decoration in photo at left). During Soviet times it was poorly maintained and was allowed to decay into the dismal state one came to expect of all Soviet hotels. In 1991 extensive renovations were undertaken to bring it back to its former glory and it is now one of the most prestigious of Moscow's downtown hotels. The hotel has 5 floors and 415 rooms, and (2006) accomodation starts at $370 US per night. The Metropol is a member of Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts.

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This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

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