The Bolshoi Theatre has been closed for the past 6 years for renovation and just reopened on October 28, 2011 at the cost of 21 billion rubles ($680 million). The renovation included restoring acoustics to the original quality (which had been lost during the Soviet Era), restoring the original Imperial decor of the Bolshoi, and repair of the foundation and brickwork. Inside the theatre, the entire space was stripped from the bottom up; the 19th -century wooden fixtures, silver stage curtain, and French-made red velvet banquettes were removed for repair in specialist workshops. Outside, on the top of the facade, the double-headed eagle of the original Russian coat of arms was installed in the place where the Soviet hammer and sickle had been mounted for decades. Tickets were almost impossible to get but a dear member here was able to get two tickets for us to purchase. The theatre is stunning! It was more beautiful than I had imagined. The following pictures don't do it justice but it will give you an idea of how beautiful it is.
The old Bolshoi Theatre in the early 19th-century.
The theatre was founded by Catherine the Great in 1776, and its current home was built in 1825 after fire gutted a previous site. At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property. The Bolshoi Theatre's original name was the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow. Another fire in 1853 caused extensive damage and the theatre was reopened in 1856 after reconstruction. During World War II the theatre was damaged by a bomb, but it was immediately repaired. More damaging were the changes implemented by the Bolshoi's Soviet overlords, who also used the theatre to officially confirm the creation of the Soviet Union, host party congresses and announce important events like the death of Vladimir Lenin. Like so many tsarist-era buildings, the Bolshoi was stripped of its gold in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. The loss of sound-reflecting decoration harmed the theatre's acoustics, which were further degraded by a decision to fill the hollow underneath the orchestra with cement.
Bolshoi Theatre in 1883.
Bolshoi Theatre in 1932, during the Soviet times.
Bolshoi Theatre in December 2011.
Stephen in front of the theatre before the performance.
Corinne in front of the theatre before the performance.
Performance in the Bolshoi Theatre (1856).
Newly renovated Bolshoi Theatre in October 2011.
The "Royal" box seats.
Can you find Stephen?
How grateful we are for the opportunity we had to enjoy this famous theatre, ballet company, and ballet.