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The Bolshoi directions
As resilient as the Russian spirit itself, The Bolshoi theatre in Moscow is one of the world’s best and oldest performance theatres. It also is an opera company which is well known for its productions of operas, musicals and plays. Established in the year 1776 by two pioneers Peter Urossov and Mikhail Medoks, the company used to put up private performances at patrons’ homes; however they later acquired the Petrovsky Theatre and that is where the current Bolshoi theatre was built.

The Bolshoi Theatre has seen a tumultuous past, and has been struck by a number of disasters, the first of which was in the year 1805 when the building was consumed by fire. The devastation was enormous to such a point, that there was no theatre building left after the fire abated. At this point in time, the control of the Bolshoi Theatre moved into Imperial hands, and the government reconstructed the building. But it was not long before another ravaging fire destroyed the Bolshoi Theatre and the city of Moscow in 1812. Much later in the year 1824, as a part of Moscow’s reconstruction Andrew Mikhailov and St. Petersburg architect Osip Bove constructed a much larger theatre to replace the old one. However, the calm sailing was not to be, and the Theatre Building was engulfed in a great fire for 3 days continuously in the year 1853. The raging fire completely destroyed the interiors of the Bolshoi, but the exterior was mercifully left intact. The ill fortuned Bolshoi theatre was rebuilt again, under the direction of Albert Kavos and is an architectural masterpiece. The Theatre also suffered a bombing during the Second World War, but was repaired instantly. Due to its panache for tragedy, the Bolshoi Theatre was also called the Cursed Theatre, however having seen its share of setbacks, the Bolshoi has remained unmoved and literally emerged like a phoenix from its ashes.

The Bolshoi Theatre Building is a sight to behold. A perfect example of modern neo-classical architecture, this 19th Century building has a large portico supported by 8 tall pillars. The façade also displays a magnificent figure of Apollo, the God of Arts, on his horse-drawn quadriga or chariot. The interiors of the theater are no less grand, boasting of one of the best acoustic and sound systems in the world, this 5 storeyed building has a seating capacity of nearly 2000 people. The interiors are embellished with beautiful chandeliers and gold stucco paneling and luxurious red carpeting. The auditorium, which is one of the largest theaters in the world measures 21 meters in height, 25 meters in length and 26 meters in width. The Bolshoi Theatre is currently under renovation being supervised by UNESCO.

In the last 150 years, the Bolshoi has staged at least 300 performances every year. The inaugural performance in the theatre was that of “Triumph of Music”, composed by Verstovsky and Alyabev and a ballet called Sandrilyona. Since then the Bolshoi has been a site of many historical performances including Tchaikovsky’s La Voyavoda and Mazeppa, and Rachmaninoff’s Aleko and Francesca da Ramini. The Bolshoi Ballet Company on the other hand has been well known for its superb costumes, life-like scenery and great ensemble skills. Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake was first put by the Ballet troupe in the year 1877; later Igor Moiseyev put up some folk dance performances. However during the tenure of Yuri Grigorovich as the chief choreographer, a historical rendition of Aram Khachaturyan’s path breaking ballet Spartacus was staged in 1964. Some of the noted ballet dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet troupe were Maya Plisetskaya and Vladimir Vasiliev who received fame internationally and boosted the reputation of the Bolshoi Theater and Ballet troupe.

Even though it is currently under renovation, the Bolshoi theater is a must see for any tourist visiting Moscow. Not only is it a visual treat, but is also a testimony to the turbulent times that Moscow has seen. Through the glory days as well as challenging times, the Bolshoi in Moscow has stood tall and proud.

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The Bolshoi

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