Bolshoi unveils 'five-star' stage

7th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Bolshoi Theatre's long-running renovation took a step closer to completion Wednesday as officials unveiled a hi-tech rehearsal stage due to be handed over to the ballet dancers this month.

More than 3,000 builders are working at the site every day to ensure the great Moscow theatre is ready for its opening night in October, said Mikhail Sidorov, a spokesman for the company in charge of renovations, Summa Capital, told AFP.

"Now we are saying that everything is going according to schedule," Sidorov said. "We can see that the building will be handed over on time."

Builders are busy hammering parquet flooring in the black-painted upper rehearsal stage on the seventh floor, where dancers will be able to perform full rehearsals of ballets with an orchestra of up to 130 musicians.

Pigeons have been flying in and out of the hall up a winding staircase on the top floor of the building, where the roof is still not fully sealed, Sidorov said.

The last stages of the work on the theatre will see restorers hanging the main chandelier and finishing the gilding of the ornate auditorium, Sidorov said.

Work also needs to be completed on an underground floor and installing stage machinery.

The rehearsal stage is due to be completed on April 15 and will host rehearsals for October's opening gala concert and upcoming premieres of opera "Ruslan and Lyudmila" and ballet "Sleeping Beauty," Sidorov said.

Behind the scenes, performers will enjoy much more comfortable conditions, with each dressing room now having a bathroom, whereas before there was only one toilet and shower room on each floor, Sidorov said.

He described the dressing rooms as "like a five-star hotel."

The theatre, built in the 1820s, closed in 2005 for renovations and was due to reopen in 2008, but the opening date was postponed several times as the project became mired in allegations of overspending and corruption.

Officials have said the works have cost at least 800 million dollars (580 million euros), and the main contractor was replaced in 2009 after costs grew 16-fold from the original budgeted sum.

© 2011 AFP

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