Russia’s famous Bolshoi Theatre reopens after six month coronvirus lockdown

Russia's Bolshoi theater
Russia's Bolshoi theater Copyright ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP or licensors
Copyright ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP or licensors
By Katy Dartford with AFP
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The theatre kicked off its 245th season to a mask-wearing half-empty auditorium with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Don Carlo”.


Russia’s famous Bolshoi Theatre opened its 245th season on Sunday for the first time in almost six months due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

But it was a very different experience for opera fans, who donned masks and had to sit apart in a half-empty auditorium for a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Don Carlo”.

“A lot of people put in a lot of effort,” said Austrian-Russian operatic soprano, Anna Netrebko.

“We are very happy now that we have such an opportunity, and the theatre is opening.”

The landmark venue in central Moscow was forced to shut its doors on March 17 due to a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in and around the capital, the worst-hit region in the country.

The closure cost the theatre more than nine-and-a-half-million euros.

Initially, managers said the shutdown would last for a few weeks, but they finally said they would reopen on September 6, as Russia started to relax some of its toughest restrictions.

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Большой театр России открывает 245-й сезон🎉 После полугодового перерыва мы впервые принимаем зрителей на Исторической сцене. 6, 8 и 10 сентября состоятся показы оперы «Дон Карлос» Джузеппе Верди в постановке Эдриана Ноубла. Новый сезон Большого открывается спектаклями, в которых занято созвездие исполнителей. В роли Елизаветы Валуа на нашей сцене дебютирует Анна Нетребко @anna_netrebko_yusi_tiago . Дона Карлоса поёт Юсиф Эйвазов @yusif_eyvazov_official , Короля Филиппа – Ильдар Абдразаков @ildarabdrazakov , Княгиню Эболи – Агунда Кулаева @agundakulaeva , Родриго – Эльчин Азизов @elchinazizov ! Мы поздравляем коллег, зрителей и поклонников с началом 245-го сезона. Ждём вас зрительном зале! The Bolshoi theatre opens 245th season! After a six-month break, we welcome the audience for the first time. On September 6, 8, 10 Historic stage will be at mercy of “Don Carlo” by Giuseppe Verdi. We open new season with constellation of artists. Anna Netrebko will debut as Elizabeth of Valois. Yusif Eyvazov will sing a part of Don Carlo, Ildar Abdrazakov – Philip II, the King of Spain, Agunda Kulaeva – Princess Eboli, Elchin Azizov – Rodrigo. Congratulations to all the colleagues and theatre’s admirers on the 245th season start! Фото Дамира Юсупова/Photo by Damir Yusupov #большойтеатр #bolshoitheatre

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"We are opening the season with great joy on the one hand, and on the other hand with caution, because coronavirus did not go anywhere," said director of the Bolshoi Theatre, Vladimir Urin.

Couples or friends who bought their tickets together can sit next to each other. But the hall must be no more than half full due to new protocols to contain the pandemic.

Temperatures are also be checked and anyone over 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit) will be turned away at the door.

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Долгожданная новость!🎉После долгого вынужденного перерыва творческий коллектив Большого театра возвращается к работе на родных сценах! 6, 8 и 10 сентября на Исторической сцене оперой «Дон Карлос» откроется 245 сезон. В главных партиях — Анна Нетребко, Юсиф Эйвазов, Ильдар Абдразаков, Агунда Кулаева, Эльчин Азизов. Первый балетный спектакль в Москве состоится 12 сентября: «Дон Кихот» Л. Минкуса в хореографической редакции Алексея Фадеечева будет показан благотворительно в этот вечер врачам, самоотверженно спасающим жизни людей. Несмотря на многие сложности, в 245 сезоне мы планируем представить 3 балетные и 7 оперных премьер, провести фестивали, концерты в Филармонии, побывать на гастролях в Европе и Южной Америке (Аргентина); принять на своих сценах международный конкурс балета Юрия Григоровича. Всё, что Большой театр не успел осуществить из-за возникшей ситуации изоляции и опасности заражения в 244 сезоне, будет осуществлено в ближайшие два года. О том, что ждёт всех нас в ближайшем будущем – в пресс-релизе на, активная ссылка в описании профиля. Афиша мероприятий на сентябрь будет опубликована в ближайшее время. Спасибо, что вы всегда с нами, давайте проведем еще один незабываемый сезон вместе! 🎉After a long break, the creative team of The Bolshoi theatre returns to work on native stages! On September 6, 8 and 10, “Don Carlo” opera starring Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov, Ildar Abdrazakov, Agunda Kulayeva, Elchin Azizov will open our 245th season on the Historic stage. The first ballet performance in Moscow will take place on September, 12: “Don Quixote” in choreographic version by Alexei Fadeyechev will be shown this evening to doctors who selflessly save people's lives. Despite many difficulties, in the 245th season we are going to present 3 ballet and 7 opera premieres, festivals, concerts in the Philharmonic, tours to Europe and South America (Argentina), and host the international Yuri Grigorovich ballet Competition on our stages. Everything that The Bolshoi did not manage to implement due to lockdown in 244th season will be implemented in the next 2 years. Let's spend the upcoming season together! #bolshoitheatre

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The shutdown has played havoc with performers’ rehearsal schedules, said dancer Alyona Kovaleva, who will be appearing in “Four Characters in Search of a Plot”, which includes four one-act ballets.

“We were at home for several months, unable to work in a dance room or stay in shape”.

The first ballet performance at the Bolshoi will take place on September 12 with “Don Quixote”.

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