The Bolshoi Theater, one of the main landmarks of the Russian capital and a symbol of Russian culture, reopened on Friday after six years of reconstruction with a gala concert attended by members of the Russian and international beau monde.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were among the guests for Friday’s performance at Russia’s main ballet and opera house.
“It’s a very happy day for our country,” Medvedev said from the stage before the concert. “Our country is big, but the number of such uniting symbols, national treasures – what we call national brands – is very limited. And the Bolshoi is one of our greatest national brands.”
The Bolshoi Theater, built in 1825, closed for reconstruction in 2005. The reconstruction was initially scheduled for completion in 2008, but the project has been marred by repeated delays as well as a misappropriation scandal.
“I am sure that what has been done here will serve generations of our citizens, all those who like the Bolshoi Theater, for long years,” Medvedev said on Friday.
The Russian government spent 21 billion rubles ($681 million) on the restoration, which involved more than 3,600 designers, builders and engineers.
Friday’s gala concert began with a performance reproducing the restoration work. Artists dressed in builders’ uniforms and helmets performed the final scene from Mikhail Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar opera.
The acoustics have been improved significantly. The renovated theater has a back stage, extra foyers and cafeterias, and underground premises for storing stage decorations. The work has created an extra 50,000 sq meters of space in the building.