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The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow - a cultural symbol of Russia

The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, located on Theater Square, is one of the main symbols not only of the Russian culture, but also a symbol of Russia itself. This oldest musical theater in Russia bears the full name of the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of Russia, but a short name “Bolshoi” has become more popular among the people.

More than 800 works were staged in this theatre. The operas of Wagner, Verdi, Berlioz and many others are among them. The world opera premieres by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Arensky and Prokofiev took place here too.

Even if you are not an avid theatergoer, you can be sure that visiting the Bolshoi Theater will not leave you indifferent.

Where is the theater and how to get to it

The exact address of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow is Theater Square, Building 1.

The easiest way to get to the theater is by metro. Near the theater there are two metro stations «Teatralnaya» and «Okhotny Ryad». If you exit at «Teatralnaya», use the exit «to the Bolshoi Theater». If it is more convenient for you to leave the metro at «Okhotny Ryad», use the exit towards Teatralnaya Square.

From the station “Revolution Square” you will reach the Bolshoi by crossing the square with the same name. From the station «Kuznetsky Most», you need to go along Kuznetsky Most Street, and then turn to Theater Square.

Briefly about the history of creation

The Bolshoi Theater began as a private theater of the provincial prosecutor Knyaz Petr Urusov.

On March 28, 1776, Catherine II signed a “privilege” to the well-known philanthropist, Moscow provincial prosecutor, Knyaz Petr Urusov, for opening an acting troupe and for holding performances, masquerades, balls and other entertainments for a period of ten years. This date is considered the foundation day of the  Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

Urusov's companion was an Englishman, a graduate of Oxford, McCall Medox. It is noteworthy that he originally came to Russia to teach mathematics to the future Emperor Paul 1.

Initially, the theater was located in the annex to the house of Count Vorontsov on Znamenka, and only in 1780 a new building was built in the place where the theater is located today. The theater building was opened on December 30, 1780 with the premiere of the ballet “Magic Shop”.

However, in 1805 the building burned down, and for 20 years until 1825 the performances were staged at different venues. 

 According to the plan of the architect Osip Bove, in 1821-1825 a new building of the Bolshoi Theater was built in the style of classicism. On January 6, 1825, the performance "The Triumph of Muses" was given here. However, this building also suffered from the beginning fire.

The theater building, which we can admire now, was built in 1856 under the direction of architect Albert Kavos. The building is crowned by the world-famous bronze quadriga of Apollo by Peter Klodt. We see a two-wheeled chariot with four harnessed horses galloping across the sky and the god Apollo controlling them.

Interesting facts about the Bolshoi Theater

  • In the early years of the theater, the troupe did not attach much importance to the content of the performances. Every evening up to four performances could be played on the stage. The main viewers were aristocrats, and in order not to bore the regular public, the repertoire changed very often; 
  • It was only in the 19th century the troupe began to stage significant works which became real cultural events of Moscow life; 
  • The heyday of the Bolshoi Theater in the pre-war period came at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries. That time Chaliapin and Sobinov, whose names became known around the world, shone on the stage. In those years, Sergey Rachmaninov became the conductor, and the great artists Benois, Polenov and Korovin took part in the work on the performances' scenery; 
  • In the postwar period, Prokofiev’s ballets «Cinderella» and «Romeo and Juliet» became significant premieres; 
  • In the Bolshoi Theater, 3 halls are open to the public: historical (main stage), seating 1768 spectators; new scene, opened in 2002, for 1000 spectators; Beethoven Hall with 320 seats, which is famous for its unique acoustics; 
  • The chandelier in the main hall, located above the heads of the audience and created in 1863, consists of 26,000 crystal pieces; 
  • Beethoven Hall was opened in 1921. The hall delights the audience with Louis 15 style interior - silk upholstered walls, Italian stucco molding, walnut floors; 
  • In front of the theater, 2 types of tulips are planted - saturated pink “Galina Ulanova” and bright red “Bolshoi Theater”. These species were bred by the Dutch flower breeder Lefeber. At the beginning of the 20th century, he saw Ulanova on the stage of the Bolshoi theatre. Lefeber was so impressed with the talent of the Russian ballerina that he decided to bring out new varieties of tulips in her honor and in honor of the theater.

What productions are definitely worth seeing

Swan Lake ballet

Ballet Swan Lake is a symbol and pride of the rest Russian ballet. It has been shown on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater for more than 140 years, and it always collects a full hall.

Ballet Spartak

Now the theater’s repertoire has already the third production of the famous ballet, which is distinguished by an abundance of common scenes (almost the entire troupe performs on the stage at the same time).

The Nutcracker Ballet

This ballet was firstly presented in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater. It is believed that every ballerina dreams at least once to play the part of the Fairy Dragee.


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