After years of controversy, questions over missing funds, and accusations of corruption the Bolshoi Theatre renovation is complete and the theatre is due to be opened with all the brouhaha of a state event. The renovation was badly needed after years of neglect. The building works included the construction of a brand new underground stage, which can move up and down as required.
Bolshoi Theatre General Manager, Anatoly Iksanov, said: “The building was in very bad condition. It was estimated that the likelihood of it collapsing was 70%. That is very high. You may remember that in the last season before closure, the audience had to use the side and back entrances to the theatre because we were afraid that the porch would collapse. And we didn’t let the audience into the upper tiers during the last season. So we had really reached a critical point.”
During the renovation works, which cost around 520 million euros – all theatre and ballet staff moved to another building. The opera, “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” is set to open the new season at the reburbished theare.
Soprano Albina Shagimuratova said: “It’s not easy to rehearse with the constant sound of drilling – it’s been difficult, of course. It has been quite intense, and we have been here since 1st September and the opera is 4.5 hours long. So we need to do a lot of rehearsals.”
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are both set to attend the opening gala, which will be broadcast live in Russia, Europe and the United States.