The building of the Bolshoi Theatre is one of the symbols of Moscow and Russia. The theatre was founded in the 18th century as a private theatre of Prince Pyotr Ouroussoff. The theatre was founded on 28th of March 1776 when Catherine II issued Prince a privilege to hold performances, balls and masquerades.
The current building is actually not the first one. It was erected between 1820 and 1824 and was reconstructed in 1850s after an extensive fire. The famous portico with a statue of Apollo on a quadriga lies on 8 columns. The inside of the theatre is dazzling. The main Tsarskaya loge is located opposite the stage and its barrier is held by titans.Rich crimson and golden colours have astounded everyone entering the house for many decades.
The acoustic characteristic of the theatre was one of the best in the world in the second part of the 19th century owing to the skill of Alberto Cavos who designed the auditorium as a huge musical instrument.
The theatre continued giving performances even during the World War II despite the fact that the building was damaged by a bombing in 1941.
In 2005 the Bolshoi Theatre was closed for a global reconstruction that restored the historical appearance of the building lost during the Soviet period. The house regained the look created by Alberto Cavos and now any visitor can feel like a 19th century theatre-lover and enjoy the luxurious decoration. Crimson drapery with golden ornaments, a variety of arabesques, the picturesque plafond “Apollo and Muses” make the auditorium look like a fairy tale palace. Special attention was payed to the renewal of the legendary acoustic.
A famous Dutch plant breeder Lefeber was so much impressed by the performance of Galina Ulanova at the Bolshoi Theatre that he created two new breeds of tulips naming them after the famous ballet dancer and the theatre itself. Everyone can see these tulips planted in front of the Bolshoi Theatre.
All in all more than 800 different performances were staged at the theatre. At the moment the repertoire combines a number of classical operas and ballets and modern experimental performances.
Excursions in the Historical building
Excursions are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There is only one excursion in Russian and one excursion in English on each of these days. The duration of the tour is 1 hour. A group of maximum 15-20 people is formed immediately before the beginning of the excursion which starts at 11-15 a.m. The ticket office is situated in the Historical building (door number 12) and opens at 11 a.m. Ticket price is 1,300 rubles. No children under the age of 14 are allowed.
The Bolshoi Theatre museum collection contains more than 200 000 items including set and costume design sketches by outstanding Russian artists Korovin, Vasnetsov, Kustodiev, Benois and others; scale models of the 19th-21st century performances; costumes and personal belongings of famous actors like Feodor Chaliapin, Galina Ulanova, Sergei Lemeshev, Maya Plisetskaya; photographs, playbills, historical autographs, drafts and lithographs of the Bolshoi Theatre buildings, icons and others. You can see Mikhail Glinka’s Gospel, fans of Maria Taglioni, Anna Pavlova and Antonina Nezhdanova; Vera Dulova’s piano with autographs of Dmitri Shostakovich and Aram Khachaturian.
Address: Theatre Square, 1
How to get: Teatralnaya or Okhotny Ryad metro station, the exit to the Theatre Square (Rus: Театральная Площадь).
Tickets can be purchased in the official ticket offices and on-line. Do not buy tickets from non-official distributors because of a great number of forged tickets.
The official ticket offices of the Bolshoi Theatre:
• In the administrative building go the theatre (left of the exit from Teatralnaya and Okhotny Ryad metro stations). Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (breakfrom 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
• In the Historical Stage building. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (break from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
• In the New Stage building. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (break from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.)
• In GUM, the first line of the ground floor. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
You can pay by cash or by card.
If you purchase a ticket on-line, you should present a printed A4 copy of the ticket at the entrance to the theatre. Be ready to show your ID to the ticket collector.
Web site of the Bolshoi Theatre: http://bolshoi.ru
The theatre is disabled-friendly.
1. Bear in mind the dress code for going to the theatre. Evening gowns are no longer obligatory, but you should not wear sport clothes, shorts, slippers, etc.
2. Entry to the auditorium is permitted after the first bell and is closed after the third bell.
3. Taking photographs and filming during the performance without special permission from the administration is prohibited.
Check out the full list of the most interesting tours in Russian cities.