The Bolshoi Theatre

11 April, 2014

Everyone knows what the Bolshoi theatre is, as symbolic for Russia as the Eiffel Tower is for  France or Big Ben for England. Its image is also on the Russian bill of 100 rubles. It was the place of many historic openings such as the famous ballet “Swan Lake” in 1877 (and still played today!) by Tchaikovsky. For an anecdote: at that time, the ballet was a total failure! The choreography was redesigned by the famous Lev Ivanov, considered as “the soul of Russian dance” and only in 1895 did the ballet begin to have a huge success.

So why Bolshoi? This is actually not a common name for a theater! This is because at the time the building was so big that only the Scala was more impressive! It was built in 1825 in place  of the Petrovsky theater, which was ravaged by fire 20 years before. It was designed by the neoclassical architect Joseph Bové, famous for having built also the Manege and the Maly Theatre (so called in opposition to the Bolshoi). You should know that the Bolshoi was closed for 6 years for renovation (July 2005-October 2011). For the records, the reopening ceremony was broadcast live on several television channels and even on Youtube! Another thing: during the renovation, all the coat of arms of the USSR were replaced by those of the Russian Federation.

And how can anyone forget the Bolshoi Ballet! The company has existed since 1776: it is older than the building because it performed first on the scene of the Petrovsky theatre. During the renovation, ballets, operas and other shows were performed on the new stage of the Bolshoi, which opened in November 2000. Alexander Gorski, the first ballet master (1901 – 1924) developed his own style to the Bolshoi Ballet in opposition to its eternal enemy the Mariinsky Theatre which favors a more refined aesthetic, while the Bolshoi offers a more energetic style and technical rarely equaled. During Soviet times the influence of the theatre reached its peak with the most emblematic creations of the period: namely Prokofiev’s Cinderella (1945) or Spartacus by Khachaturian. Finally do not forget the ballerinas: some of them became very famous like Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya who received the title of “prima ballerina absoluta”, for ballerinas who were considered well above the level of the others, gifted with exceptional talents! If you have the opportunity to attend a performance, whether you’re passionate about theatre or just curious, do not hesitate!

You can view the schedule on its website, as well as purchase tickets online (and the site is in English! So no excuses!)

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