Newsmen and guests of honor-war veterans, Heroes of the Soviet Union, Moscow's honored citizens, architects, sculptors and art scholars-were the first to appear, on special invitations. Hussar-uniformed actors and hoop-skirted ladies greeted them at the entrance.
The hall is decorated in high-tech style, with two escalators down to the basement. The central exposition room has its 45 girders remade in their original way. No ceiling now conceals these formidable structures-pioneer effort by early 19th century architect Betancourt. The whole edifice is clearly visible now from the inside, including the previously masked dormer windows arranged all along the Manege. They will again do their duty, letting more light in.
Preceding the opening gala was a consecration liturgy. Serving it was the senior priest of St. Tatiana's Church, just opposite to the Manege.
Manege reconstruction came as Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's political goodwill act, celebrated Mark Zakharov, Lenkom drama company chief director, said to Novosti. "We all were grumbling and groaning [after the conflagration] while he, promptly and with dignity, ordered the building raised from the ashes," he remarked.
Our interviewer asked Mr. Zakharov about his opinion of the exposed roof beams and girders. "I like them immensely," was the reply.