The Bolshoi Theatre is back in the ranks
The culmination of this year’s Russian cultural life was in October, when the historical building of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, which is the main stage of the country, opened after six years of reconstruction and restoration.
The reconstruction and restoration turned into an immense regeneration, which obscured all renovations and alterations, which the theatre went through over 236 years of its life. “Now the main theatre of the country has a full right to priority in many ways,” the General Director of the Bolshoi Theatre Anatoly Iskhanov says.
“We have been given a staggering theatre, a 21st century theatre with ideal 19th century acoustics, which we lost in the 20th century due to certain circumstances. We have got sophisticated theatrical equipment and technologies which really make us number one on some points. What is important, we have preserved the historical building as an architectural monument. Our restorers have done great work. Now our main aim is to continue and develop the creative process.”
In addition to the director’s words, we can point out that the restoration was carried out on the basis of historical research. For example, the interior of the theatre is a copy of the Bolshoi Theatre’s late 19th century luxuriant Imperial interior: the bright-crimson gold-embroidered draperies of the boxes, the plafond in the ceiling painted with the figures of Apollo and the Muses performing a magic dance, and the three-storey chandelier sparkling with thousands of crystal pendants. Everything looks like at the time of the last Russian emperor.
The historical façade of the theatre has also been restored. Today the Bolshoi Theatre has its usual appearance recognized all over the world: eight columns at the entrance and Apollo’s chariot driven by four horses over the portico.
At the same time, the reconstruction team has doubled the area of the building without changing its size. A six-storey underground space under the building houses a concert hall and a lot of other important facilities. The stage of the Bolshoi Theatre has also been radically reconstructed: it has become larger, assumed a deep perspective and has been provided with modern technical equipment and an ability for fast computer-programmed transformation.
Announcer: The Bolshoi Theatre building is seething with life again. The first performance, which millions of spectators saw on live TV and online, took place on the 28th of October. It was followed by the first premiere which caused quite a stir. Critics are still arguing about producer Dmitry Cherniakov’s stubborn attempts to create modern versions of Russian classics on the stage of the main theatre of the country. This time it was Ruslan and Ludmila, an opera by Mikhail Glinka. The tour of the famous La Scala from Milan, one of the best friends and partners of the Bolshoi, also became a sensation. The Italians became the first foreigners to enjoy the acoustics of the theatre and the resources of the new super-stage. In November the choir and orchestra from Milan performed the Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi and in December the La Scala ballet company is performing their best ballets Excelsior and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Moscow audience, which missed the historical performances and the atmosphere and splendid interiors of the Bolshoi Theatre, has been buying tickets like hot cakes for already two months.