June 29, 2013

Restoration and Reopening of the Bolshoi Theater

The Bolshoi Theater, the most elegant and grandiose of Moscow’s Ballet and Opera theaters, was opened on January 18, 1825. Designed to replace the Petrovka Theater, which burned down in 1805, Bolshoi was built by architect Osip Bove. The Theater was founded even earlier, however, by Empress Catherine the Great in 1776 (the same year the United States was born). Since their inception, the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera companies have emerged as one of the most renowned and prestigious of their kind.

In recent history, the Theater was closed down for restoration from July 2005 to October 2011. The restoration included an improvement in acoustics, restoration of the original Imperial décor, and the repairing of the foundation and brickwork. Inside the building, the entire theater was stripped and reconstructed from the bottom up. Despite the restorations, the ballet and opera companies continued preforming on the New Stage and in the Great Kremlin Palace.

After a six-year, $700M dollar renovation, the Bolshoi Theater was reopened on October 28, 2011. With a concert featuring international artists and the ballet and opera companies, members of the Russian elite were seated in gold-lined boxes where tsars and Soviet leaders sat for performances.

When traveling to Moscow, the Bolshoi Theater ought to be on any tourist’s list of sights to visit. With its history of triumph and turmoil, the restoration brought fresh light to the highest emblem of Russian culture and artistic tradition.