Bolshoi Theatre Will Close This Summer for Major Reconstruction Project

Classic Arts News   Bolshoi Theatre Will Close This Summer for Major Reconstruction Project
The Bolshoi Theatre will close this summer for extensive renovations, displacing its opera and ballet companies for the first time in the theater's 150-year history, the New York Times reports.

The theater's main building will close on July 1, and will reopen sometime in 2008.

The building is in terrible shape, according to general director Anatoly Iksanov. "The state of the theater is life-threatening," he said. "We can't wait any longer."

Yuri Melnikov, deputy chief of the commission overseeing the project's technical aspects, said, "For 15 years already the fire inspectors have been saying the theater should be closed. Fire safety can't be guaranteed. The foundations are from the mid-19th century. They're not on cement, and they're affected by the constant technical and weather changes, the freezing and thawing here."

The renovation plans also include an upgrade of backstage facilities, new ballet floors, a transformable orchestra pit, and the restoration of the theater's original acoustics. According to Aleksandr Vedernikov, the theater's music director, the acoustics were destroyed by a 1950s-era reconfiguration of the orchestra pit. Patrons sitting in the theater's most expensive seats, Vedernikov said, got the worst acoustics, and the problem made it "impossible to perform Wagner."

Some preservationists, however, say the renovation is unnecessary, and are worried about changes to the historic building.

This phase of the renovations follows the addition of a new atrium annex and last year's completion of a new stage, which will house most of the ballet company's productions while the main building is closed. Other works, such as Spartacus and The Pharaoh's Daugher, are too big for the theater, and will be performed on tour or in other Moscow venues.

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