Today, on March 28, The Bolshoi celebrates its birthday. For 239 years The Bolshoi remains one of the most important symbols of Russia, keeps traditions of Russian musical culture and makes indispensable contribution to the development of world art.
Happy Birthday, Bolshoi!
On this holiday we prepared 10 interesting facts from our theatre's history for you. So did you know that?..
1. The first company of future Bolshoi consisted of 13 actors, 9 actresses, 7 dancers with a ballet-master and 13 musicians. That's it!
2. After 1812 year national heroic theme found its way deep into theatre stagings including the ballet ones. One of the theatre-lovers of that epoch told: "During the scene in "Militia, or Love for the Fatherland" ballet where everybody was sacrificing all their fortune to their Motherland, one of the spectators threw his wallet to the stage crying: "Take my last 75 rubles as well!"
3. In second half of XIX century The Bolshoi considered to have one of the best acoustics in the world. We owed it to Alberto Cavos who designed the auditorium as a giant musical instrument. The walls have been decorated with wooden pavements made of resonant spruce, iron ceiling has been replaced with wooden one - everything in this hall was working for the acoustics. For better sound Cavos covered the rooms under the amphitheater where the wardrobe was placed and transferred cloakrooms to the level of orchestra stalls.
4. The chandelier in auditorium initially has been illuminated with 300 oil lamps. To light it up it had to be lifted through the aperture in plafond to a special room. In the middle of XIX century the oil illumination has been replaced with gas - the special balcony has been lifted up to the chandelier to light it.
5. In XIX century the chandelier in auditorium was surrounded with a round composition of plafond ornamented by academician A.Titov. The "Apollo and the muses" art had a secret that could be noticed only by a very careful viewer with good knowledge of ancient Greece mythology: the muse of sacral hymns Polymnia was replaced with muse of painting with palette and brush invented by Titov.
6. The Bolshoi was the first professional stage for Pyotr Tchaikovsky - in 1887 he took the stick and conducted the premiere of "" opera. And the most famous ballet in the world - "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky found its first staging at The Bolshoi.
7. By the way, famous florist-breeder from Holland Derek Willem Lefeber was so impressed by this ballet with Galina Ulanova in main part in 50-ies of XX century that created 2 new sorts of tulips named "Bolshoi Theatre" and "Galina Ulanova". These flowers are still dispalanting at Teatralnaya square.
8. By 1920 the unique belfry has been created at the Bolshoi. Ex-sexton A.Kusakin collected it all over the country and for many years after that remained the only chimes performer in stagings. There have been about 40 bells sorted according to the key-notes. Some of them were really big - more than 5 tonnes of weight and 2-3 meters in diameter. And some were pretty small - less than 20 centimeters in diameter.
9. In 1923 The Bolshoi management set a challenge: to make a performance that would provide super-profit with high prices to supplement the found of asylum for aging artists. And director Vladimir Lossky staged "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" by Rossini the wrong way about: all the men's parts have been performed by women and the women's ones - by men. Figaro's fangirls were the best: 4 characteristic tenors in tutus with hairy legs. The performance had a huge success, the goal has been accomplished and the artists even had to repeat it one more time.
10. During World War II the architectonic monuments have been masked so the Germany army couldn't find the lanmarks. The Bolshoi has been masked as well with the sceneries from its art ateliers. Probably that really saved the theatre, because the bomb fall near it just once and only affected the entrance hall.