Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi teatr

Leading performers of the legendary Bolshoi Theatre are famous far beyond Russia’s borders. Bolshoi is one of the top world theatres, heart of the national stage life and the first professional theatre in the capital. It is associated with the names of such celebrities as Elena Obraztsova, Irina Arkhipova, Yury Grigorovich, Maris Liepa, Natalia Bessmertnova, Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Svetlana Zakharova, Boris Pokrovsky, Vladimir Vasiliev, Ivan Kozlovsky, Feodor Chaliapin, Leonid Sobinov, Antonina Nezhdanova. Among the grand events that marked the theatrical life of the 19th century were operas Life for the Tsar and Ruslan and Ludmila staged at the Bolshoi Theatre by composer Mikhail Glinka himself, while Adolphe Adan’s ballet Giselle premiered in Moscow on the Bolshoi’s stage. The history of the Theatre is closely linked with the work of an outstanding choreographer Marius Petipa. One of his most significant productions at the Bolshoi was Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote, staged in 1869. The Bolshoi Theatre saw the world premieres of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake and opera Mazeppa, while his operas The Voyevoda and Eugene Onegin had also been successfully staged here during the composer’s lifetime. His opera Cherevichki, premiered at the Bolshoi in 1887, was Tchaikovsky’s debut as a conductor. Brilliant operas by the composers from the so-called Mighty Handful group, such as Boris Godunov (1888) by Modest Mussorgsky, the Snow Maiden (1893) and Christmas Eve (1898) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Prince Igor (1898) by Alexander Borodin also became part of the Bolshoi’s hall of fame. Among other celebrities who worked at the Theatre were Sergei Rachmaninoff and Dmitry Shostakovich.

The year of 1776, when prince Peter Ouroussoff was granted a permission by Catherine II to organize theatrical performances and concerts, is considered to be the year of the establishment of the Bolshoi Theatre. High Moscow society gathered here for the first time in 1780. As a matter of fact, in the beginning the Theatre’s company consisted of 13 musicians and around 30 performing artists with dramatic actors participating in the operas, while singers and dancers acted in the dramatic plays. Originally the Bolshoi Theatre along with the Maly Theatre formed one Imperial Theatres’ Company. They were finally divided after the 1917 Revolution.

The building of the Theatre burned several times. The new magnificent building in the Empire style designed by architect Joseph Bové was opened in 1825. The building was commonly nick-named the Coliseum. The devastating fire of 1853 destroyed all the costumes, decorations and musical instruments, sparing only the main stone walls and the portico. Alberto Cavos, chief architect of the Imperial Theatres, was put in charge of the reconstruction. The roof of a new classical style building, opened in 1856, was decorated with the famous bronze quadriga (featuring on the 100-rouble banknote) sculpted by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg.

The Bolshoi Theatre has three stages: the Historic and the New ones, as well as the one at the Beethoven Hall. In 2011 a comprehensive reconstruction of the Theatre was completed. Its facade is often used for video-mapping during various festival and celebrations. The square with a fountain in front of the Theatre hosts seasonal fairs featuring beautiful decorations, treats and entertainments. There is a gift-shop in the Theatre (entrance 9a, the first one along the left wing of the building), where visitors can buy porcelain ware, branded t-shirts, fridge magnets, post-cards, audio and video recordings of the performances, books about the Theatre. Guided tours of the historic building are available in Russian and English. The Theatre’s official web-site offers virtual tours and exhibitions along with a link to its own video channel. The Theatre hosts the guest performances of such celebrated companies as Saint Petersburg Eifman Ballet and La Scala.

In cooperation with Pathe Live and Bel Air Media the Bolshoi Theatre broadcasts its ballets, which can be viewed either live or replayed at over a thousand cinemas in 50 countries around the world. The full list of participating cities and cinemas abroad is available here, while information on those in Russia can be found here.

After the show you can continue your fancy evening at the BOLSHOI Restaurant. The interior is decorated with an exclusive collection of modern artists and sculptors such as Dietrich Klinge, Isabel Muñoz, George Puzenkov, Joan Hernández Pijuan, Pierre Soulages, Antoni Tàpies. Two spacious halls are furnished with luxury Ralph Lauren furniture. The food is an example of haute cuisine. On any business day from noon till 6 p.m. guests receive 20% discount on the entire menu. You can also enjoy the elegance of the restaurant and the atmosphere of art during the traditional 5 o’clock tea every day, except for public holiday, from 5 p.m. till 7 p.m. For an average of 800 roubles per person you can indulge into as many servings of various magnificent desserts and samovar tea as you wish. Every evening the restaurant is filled with enchanting sounds of live music. A pianist plays modern improvisations and saloon jazz. The restaurant regularly hosts festive events on the occasion of premieres, opening and closings of theatrical seasons. Those wishing to have a dinner at the restaurant after watching a show at the Bolshoi Theatre on the day of the performance are entitled to a 10% discount upon presenting their tickets. This discount is not applied though to the parties of over 20 people. The Novikov Group cards holders receive an additional discount of 5%.

Address: 1 Teatralnaya Square (Teatralnaya ploschad, 1)
Opening hours: box offices at the Directorate building are open daily from 11 am to 3 pm and from 4 pm to 8 pm, on the first day of the advance booking (on Saturdays) the Directorate box offices open at 10 am. The New Stage box offices are open daily from 11 am to 2 pm and from 3 pm to 8 pm, the Historic Stage box offices are open daily from 11 am to 4 pm and from 6 pm to 8 pm. On the days of morning shows the box offices of the New and the Historic Stages open at 10 am. Box offices at the GUM department store are located in the first line on the ground floor, and are open daily from 11 am to 8 pm. It is advisable to purchase tickets several weeks in advance through the official web-site of the Theatre. No photo or video recording is allowed during the shows. The gift shop is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm, as well as during the shows. An hour-long guided tour in English and Russian is available once a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting at 11:10 am and 11:15 am. The groups of 15 people maximum are formed immediately before the tour. Tickets for the tours are available at the ticket office located at the Historic building (entrance 12). The fee is 500 roubles for a tour in Russian, and 1,300 roubles for a tour in English.
How to reach: Teatralnaya, Okhotny Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii, Kuznetsky Most, Lubyanka metro stations
Coordinates: 55.759752, 37.618807