Refurbished Bolshoi Theater to Open Later Than Planned

Classic Arts News   Refurbished Bolshoi Theater to Open Later Than Planned
The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow may not reopen by November 2008, as the venue's general director stated last month, Reuters reports.

The esteemed but tumbledown ballet and opera theater shut down in July 2005 for an extensive three-year renovation, and has since encountered unforeseen difficulties and expenses.

"When the reconstruction of the Bolshoi started it turned out that, say, some underground work came up, some places were damaged by fungal rot, which required additional expense," said Natalia Uvarova, a spokeswoman for Russia's Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.

Just over one month after the theater's closing, the Russian finance minister asked the theater's management to reduce projected costs by nearly 65 percent. The state has now set aside 15 billion rubles (currently $587,250) for the renovation, 40 percent below the initial estimate of 25 billion rubles.

"The problems the workers face are truly colossal," the agency reported Bolshoi general director Anatol Iksanov saying at a news conference. Before the renovation began, he said, "its bricks virtually crumbled in your hands." The theater was last restored in 1856.

Workers have recently fortified the building's walls, columns and foundation with steel bars and hundreds of metal piles.

Also planned is the construction of five underground floors offering an additional 430,556 square feet. The original stage will also receive $200 million worth of equipment installed by Bosch Rexroth AG, including a mechanism to raise the theater's roof when necessary.

Russian press quoted Iksanov saying that the theater's reopening has been postponed by at least a year, but Uvarova would not confirm an approximate completion date in 2009.

"Our main task is to preserve the building as an architectural monument ... let it be a year later, but done well so we wouldn't have to come back to it for the next 100 years," said Iksanov.

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