Russia's Bolshoi plans October gala reopening: director

22nd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's Bolshoi Theatre is to finally reopen on October 28 with a lavish ballet and opera gala after a six-year closure for a sometimes fraught restoration, its general director said on Friday.

The theatre, a landmark of Moscow built in the 1820s, closed in 2005 and was due to reopen in 2008, but the opening was repeatedly postponed. In the interim the company has been performing at the smaller "New Stage" theatre nearby.

General director Anatoly Iksanov told reporters the first performance would be a gala by the opera and ballet troupes on October 28.

The first theatrical performance will be a production opening November 2 of Glinka's opera "Ruslan and Lyudmila" directed by Dmitry Chernyakov, a director in demand worldwide whose modern productions have been major Bolshoi hits.

This will be followed on November 18 by Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Sleeping Beauty" in an updated production by the legendary former Bolshoi ballet supremo Yuri Grigorovich.

The first singer to test the theatre's new acoustics was none other than great Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, currently in Moscow to preside over an international opera competition, he revealed.

"He got on stage, decided to see how a voice sounds after the reconstruction and sang part of an aria from (Tchaikovsky's) 'The Queen of Spades'," Iksanov said.

The theatre's famous chandelier-studded interior dates back to 1856 when it reopened after an extensive fire and Iksanov said acoustics were now back to their former glory after being damaged in Soviet times.

"The Bolshoi Theatre had problems with acoustics because of a concrete floor that was placed under the audience and half of the stage. This has been removed, replaced with wood and the acoustics of 1856 restored," Iksanov said.

Iksanov said the restored theatre would also see a performance by the choir and orchestra of Milan's La Scala conducted by Daniel Barenboim under a deal that will also see guest performance by the Italian ballet troupe.

Performances will continue at the New Stage theatre, although some productions mounted there will be moved back to their historic home.

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

But hopes are high for the artistic standards in the new theatre, with the ballet troupe showing a new dynamism and embracing modern choreography and the Bolshoi opera increasingly ready to use daring modern productions.

© 2011 AFP

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