Under the Romanovs, the theatre served as the backdrop to coronations of Russian tsars from Alexander II to Nikolai II. Though Lenin maneuvered to have the imperial symbol blown up in 1919, it was retained as a cultural icon and highlevel political meeting place, replacing the tsarist double-headed eagle above the stage with a hammer and sickle.
But the Soviet era left the building in poor shape, with shoddy concrete floors installed in the main hall and orchestra pit and 19th century murals covered up by paint. As a result of the building’s ruined acoustics, says the general director Anatoly Iskanov,
… there arose the impression that in Russian opera it’s common to force the sound. Now we have the opportunity to rehabilitate Russian singers.”
Iskanov told The Moscow News that the theatre’s sound quality has been improved by the restoration of original fretwork and spruce wood acoustic shields, as well as the addition of new acoustic systems in the orchestra pit, new floors and an acoustic-friendly curtain. Now an aria should sound the same from every seat.
Decorative flourishes such as mirrors, paneling and Venetian mosaics have also been restored to their former luster. Completing the move away from the Soviet-era Bolshoi, the original imperial eagle now hangs in place of the hammer and sickle above the stage.
via The Moscow News
Photo: RIA Novosti
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.