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Bolshoi theatre

Home to one of the oldest, and probably the most famous, ballet, and opera companies in the world Bolshoj theatre is definitely one of Moscow's major landmarks.

Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The Bolshoi Theatre is renowned all over the world for such brilliant ballet dancers as Maya Plisetskaya, Vladimir Vasiliev, Galina Ulanova, Maris Liepa. They built the theater's reputation and boosted their careers into the dazzling heights of international success. At present time the stage is glorified by new talents.

The Bolshoi theatre history

Bolshoi theater is more than 240 years old. Its history goes back to 1776 when Empress Catherine II granted Prince Pyotr Urusov a license to establish theatrical performances in Russia. The Bolshoi began its life as the private theatre, and its first name was Petrovsky. Its grand opening took place on December 30, 1780.

At that time, fires happened frequently, and the building of the Bolshoi burned down several times. A massive fire that wrecked the building took place in 1812 when Napoleon's army approached Moscow. The Bolshoi that we can see today is the fourth one. Its opening took place on August 20, 1856, during the coronation of Tsar Alexander II.

Coronation of the tsar Alexander II in the Bolshoi theatre
Coronation of the tsar Alexander II in the Bolshoi theatre
In the years 2005–2011, the theatre was undergoing a significant renovation. As a result, they restored the unique pre-revolutionary acoustics and recreated original Imperial décor.

Seven interesting facts about the Bolshoi

  1.  The word Bolshoi means big in Russian. For many years it was the biggest theatre in Moscow, and it remains one of the most significant theatres in the world.
  2.  The first troupe of the Bolshoi comprised of only about 30 people. Surprisingly at that time, dramatic actors could take part in operas, while singers and dancers played in drama performances. Today the trope of the Bolshoi is made up of about 1000 performers. The Bolshoi ballet company is the biggest in the world, with more than 200 dancers.
  3. Even though St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire for a long time, Russian monarchs often attended performances at the Bolshoi Theater. The Bolshoi was also a traditional stage to celebrate the coronations of the emperors.
  4. A debut on the big stage of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky took place here - the composer conducted the opera Cherevichki in 1887. Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theatre on 4 March 1877.
  5. After the Revolution, the Bolshoi was on the verge of demolition. The Soviet government was willing to get rid of all symbols of the decadent bourgeois culture. Luckily the theatre survived.
  6. It was from the Bolshoi Theatre stage that the formation of a new country – the USSR – was proclaimed on December 30, 1922.
  7. Throughout the Second World War, only one bomb fell into the building of the Bolshoi Theater. The building was disguised as an ordinary residential building, and thanks to that, it was possible to save it.
You’ll learn many more interesting facts during the Bolshoi backstage tour.


Historic stage, New Stage and Beethoven hall 

The productions of the Bolshoi Theater can be seen on three stages:  the Historic stage, the New Stage, and Beethoven Hall. Besides, they recently started to use Boris Pokrovsky Chamber Stage.

The Historic stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The Historic stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The main pride of the Bolshoi is its historic stage. It is here where one can enjoy the luxurious interiors of the tsars’ times and the excellent acoustics. Only a ticket to the historic stage will allow you to explore the main building of the theatre. However, the tickets to the old stage are the most expensive ones.

The New stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The New stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The new stage opened its doors in 2002. You can find the New Stage building right next to the old one. Bolshoi’s Theater’s full repertoire was performed on the New Stage from 2005 to 2011 - during the reconstruction of the main stage. The auditorium here is much smaller (900 seats versus 2500), but it will also surprise you with elegance and luxury. The tickets prices are much more affordable here.

The Beethoven Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The Beethoven Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The Beethoven Hall and Boris Pokrovsky Chamber Stage are much smaller. While Beethoven Hall is on the minus one floor of the main building, the Chamber Stage is not next to the Bolshoi, and its address is Nikolskaya, 17/ 1. Both concert halls are used mostly for concerts and chamber music. 

Visiting the Bolshoi theatre

  • You may purchase tickets online using the official website. We recommend you to check availability as early as possible. Tickets go on sale 3 months in advance. Please note that the system allows you to purchase only two tickets at one time.
  • What seats to choose? When buying tickets, be sure to check the hall layout. There are places where visibility is limited to 50%.  A perfect choice could be the seats on the 1st and 2nd gallery circles close to the center. You'll need to select the first row.
  •  Pay attention to the children's age limit. At the Bolshoi, the rules are quite strict. You can bring your 6+ age child to an afternoon performance and 10+ age child to the evening event. 
  • The dress code is not so strict these days. The Bolshoi Theatre does not impose any specific requirements unless you do not go into extremes. Thus they will not allow men wearing shorts into the auditorium. 
  • You may visit the theatre during the Bolshoi backstage tour. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you may join the group guided excursions organized by the theatre. A 1-hour tour starts at 11.30, and the group size is limited to 20 people. We recommend you come in advance (45 min to 1 hour earlier). We'll also be happy to organize a private tour for you. In this case, the visit will be more extended, and you'll be more flexible with time as we may offer this tour any day from 10 am to 4 pm. We do not recommend you to visit the theatre on Monday as this day they never have rehearsals.
  • Bolshoi Theatre is very close to major sights of Moscow and we may easily fit the tour into any of your classic programs, such as Moscow in one day, Moscow in two or three days, and other ones.
The Historic stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
The Historic stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
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