Bolshoi Theatre Celebrates 241st Birthday

PHOTO by toxawww / Depositphotos

One of Moscow’s most iconic landmarks, the Bolshoi Theatre, turns 241. Officials in the capital issued a special online notice to celebrate the theatre’s birthday, which took place on Tuesday, March 28.

The founding of the theatre dates back to 1776, when Catherine the Great signed a “privilege” to grant Prince Pyotr Urusov the right to perform plays, masquerades, balls and other shows.

Urusov later took on a partner, Englishman Michael Maddox, who would go on to be sole owner of the then called Petrovka Theatre. Initially the theatre was built on the right bank of Neglinka River and survived two fires in its history. The theatre was given Imperial status in 1806, and in the July of 1829, construction of a newer, bigger building on Theatre Square began.

The new theatre opened its doors in 1825. The building was taller than the old theatre, and so was named the Bolshoi Petrovsky Imperial Theatre (bolshoi meaning “big” in Russia). The stage here lasted for 30 years: although Muscovites soon got used to calling it simply Bolshoi Theatre, it was burned down in a fire in 1853.

Another new building was opened in 1856, and, following the October revolution, the Bolshevik government decided not to shut down the theatre, but to use to host various congresses and sessions. In 1941 a bomb also damaged the building, but repairs had been completed by the fall of 1943.

More major renovation works were agreed end upon in 1987, and, during the reconstruction in October 2002, the Bolshoi was given a New Stage at another location. The main building was finally restored in 2011.