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The Bolshoi Theater

Russia's main opera stage of the world-famous theater

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The exploration of Moscow's cultural life usually starts with the Bolshoi Theater. It was founded in 1776, but the building burned down twice and was fully reconstructed in 1856. That's when the Bolshoi Theater acquired its famous facade with columns and Apollo's Chariot on top. Designers tried to make the current interior of the theater as similar to the original as possible. The six-meter chandelier attached to the ceiling with electric hoists and weighing about two tons deserves a special mention.

The Bolshoi Theater's New Stage was constructed in 2002. Sketches of the legendary theater artist Léon Bakst, edited by Zurab Tsereteli, were used to decorate the dome of the auditorium.

The Bolshoi Theater is known for more than its classical repertoire. Over the past few years, the theater has been commissioning music to contemporary composers on a regular basis. The once scandalous Children of Rosenthal by Leonid Desyatnikov (libretto by Vladimir Sorokin) has been complemented with a whole range of works on pressing topics.

One of the most sensational recent productions was Nureyev, a ballet by composer Ilya Demutsky, directed by Kirill Serebrennikov and choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. The ballet premiered on December 9, 2017. In the 2020 season, Sadko opera returned to the Bolshoi stage for the first time in almost 20 years, directed by one of the most famous contemporary Russian directors Dmitri Tcherniakov. The play received four Golden Mask awards, including one for best directing.

The theater's classical repertoire includes La Bayadère ballet—a reconstruction of the original production by a famous 19th-century choreographer Marius Petipa. Giselle is staged in two different choreographic versions: by legendary Soviet choreographer Yuri Grigorovich and one of the most famous contemporary ballet masters Alexei Ratmansky. The Queen of Spades is the third edition of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's famous opera on the Bolshoi stage, directed by a winner of numerous theater awards Rimas Tuminas.

The Diary of Anne Frank unites two one-act operas: The Diary of Anne Frank by Grigory Frid (1969) and Weiße Rose by Udo Zimmermann (1986). Both are true stories about WWII events told by eyewitnesses.

The interpretation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina staged by the famous choreographer and head of Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier is set in modern times, with Vronsky voting and Karenin playing lacrosse. The ballet's scores include music by Tchaikovsky, Schnittke, and country musician Cat Stevens.

The most famous children's performance, The Nutcracker by Yuri Grigorovich, is always staged during New Year's holidays. The theater starts selling tickets to the play in September and they sell out immediately.

You should always get tickets to the Bolshoi Theater in advance. Keep an eye on the schedule of ticket sales available on the theater's official website not to miss the desired ticket.

The Bolshoi does not have an official dress code, but, according to the administration, men wearing shorts will not be allowed into the theater, and women should also dress appropriately.
Tours of the historical building are held on Thursdays; tickets are available on the theater's website and in the box office. There is a 50% discount for schoolchildren, full-time students and retirees.

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