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The Bolshoi theatre celebrates its 240 anniversary

Fire of the Bolshoi Petrovsky theatre. Lithograph from a drawing by E. Lilye. 1853.

But the biggest suspicion causes the date of birth. Why? Here is an example… In 1925, the Bolshoi theatre celebrated its centenary, that is considered its Foundation in 1825. However, 25 years later, in 1951, the theatre, nabawi years, has already celebrated its 175th anniversary.

240 or 250?

And the thing is, what date to consider as the Foundation of the theatre. The current Grand is the third building of the theatre (1780, 1825, 1856). In fact, the history of the Bolshoi theatre is a history of fires. Mansions burned in their place were built new. This is not surprising. Getting acquainted with the history of almost any theatre buildings, everywhere you can find information that in such-that to year the building was burning. The main cause of PE was, of course, the lighting of the first candle and oil lamps and then gas burners. So theatre and offices of the theatre, where the costumes, sets, props, was simply a powder keg, just waiting, when will appear the same fatal spark… Therefore date the birth anniversary depends on which of these three buildings we believe in this Great theater (all of them actually built on the same Foundation). These disputes have still not been completed. But everything in order.

March 28, 1776 — this date is emblazoned on each ticket. On this day 240 years ago the privilege of maintenance of Russian theatre in Moscow alone received the provincial Prosecutor, Prince Peter V. Urusov. The privilege was granted by Catherine II, and thanks to her Urusov was freed from tax, but was obliged «to build at its own expense in five years for the appointment of Police theatre with all accessories, stone, with external decoration to the city could serve as a decoration, and moreover the house for public masquerades, comedies and comic operas». This document and declared the birth certificate.

However, do not agree with that of modern researchers. Actually, according to their calculations, this year the theatre should celebrate its 250th anniversary. Professor L. M. Starikova found documents which showed that the privilege Urusova is not the first man… and called the name of the first Director, appointed in Moscow to manage the public theater, is a Colonel Nikolay Sergeevich Titov. He got a wooden theatre building on the Yauza river near Lefortovo Palace, which was called «the Big Opera house on Yauza», or Golovinsky theatre. In this very spot on February 21, 1766, and was shown future first performance of the troupe of the Bolshoi theatre. So there are all bases to name the date of birth of 1766. However, as humans, to change the date of birth of the theatres are not so easy.

So back to the by shooting. This man and loved theater, but was quite distant from him. That is why he invited an assistant of foreigner Michael Maddocks, «aequilibrium», and the theatrical mechanics «lecturer», to demonstrate various kinds of optical devices and other mechanical wonders.

As we remember, the main condition for privileges was the construction of a new building for your own money. In fulfilling the commitment the owners have purchased at Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky house on Great Peter street in the parish of the Church of the Savior on the Copies. This land at that time was the worst in Moscow — the low, marshy Bank of the river Neglinka, constantly filled with water. There’s some on stilts and put the first building of the theatre. Prior to the completion of new construction, the performances were in the Opera house on Znamenka street until February 26, 1780, when «negligence from the lower servants,» the theatre was destroyed by fire.

The troupe at that time was small and instead of hundreds of artists and staff who work in the theater today, there were only 13 actors, 9 Actresses, 4 dancers, 3 dancers with choreographer and 13 musicians.

Looked like a Big Petrovsky theatre before the fire.

Fictional curse plague cemetery

In the same year, a few days before the fire on Znamenka street in the newspaper «Moscow sheets» is selected, the message: «the Office of the Znamensky theatre, always trying on the pleasure of the audience, through this announces that now builds again for theatre stone house on Great Peter street near Kuznetsk bridge to the opening end, of course, the current 1780 in the month of December». So what is this place, where was built a Large theatre?

Recently some of the artists we hear that the theatre built on the site of the plague cemetery. It is this circumstance that they explain an entire series of unpleasant and criminal events, which the theater had to endure recently. Is this true? For clarification refer to the head of the Bolshoi theatre Museum, the candidate of art history Lydia Harinas.

— Those who says, it should be better to read the documents, ‘ says Lidia Glebovna. — I can say for sure: plague cemetery there could not be! When I saw the plans of the eighteenth century, saw that there, where now stands the theatre, earth Lobanov-Rostovsky. It was private property. Why I bought this land? It is not bought same cemetery the ground is impossible. At us the country Orthodox, burials were made at temples. There was near the Church of the Savior on the Copies. But in private estates, and even the marshy area could not be any graves. In addition, for plague burials were organized by a special cemetery outside the city.

What was to Big? There is an assumption that the new building of the theater was to include a portion of the walls of the house of Lobanov-Rostovsky burning in 1773 and stood «without Windows and a roof». Ie, after the plague epidemic in Moscow on the conclusion of the police architect Karina, it is known that here was a house that burned down.

For 240 years, nothing has changed

Large three-story stone building built by the son of a tailor, the architect of Christians Ivanovich Roseburg. Maddox, who bought by this time the privilege Urusova, became sole owner and December 30 in «Moskovskie Vedomosti» reported about the opening of the Petrovsky theatre, facing Petrovka street. Actually hence the original name (later to be called the Old Petrovsky theatre). The same evening the audience was given a presentation, which included the «prologue on the opening of the Petrovsky theatre», and its a big pantomime ballet the Magic shop, L. Paradise set to music by Th.Starter, and «the Dialogue of a wanderer on the opening of the new Petrovsky theatre» works Ablesimov.

«This huge building, is made of Muscovites press, is built for people’s enjoyment and amusement, will fit a hundred and ten lodges, not counting the galleries». These lodges, of the Italian system, was located in several storeys and were completely isolated from each other by solid walls. They gave up, and each of the owners have furnished the Lodge to your liking, upholstered damask, pasted over with Wallpaper, brought own furniture. The picture was — motlier can imagine. Besides the visibility, as now some of the lodges, left much to be desired. But such is the Italian system. «One half of the seats can not see anything from one-third of the other half hard to see»… In General, for 240 years, nothing has changed!

In addition to the auditorium in the building was a lot of places where viewers could relax in the car and even dance after the performances. There were old and novopeschannaya «maskaradnye rooms», «card», some «coal» offices, where alone those who didn’t want to tempt fate for a green card table, and could, for example, to negotiate with a companion.

Has put here not only operas and ballets, as now, but also drama. Was held here and «maskerade», and «willow markets».

The Bolshoi theater. May 1, 1930-ies.

A swamp with frogs

I slowly began Maddocks of financial difficulties, and on October 22, 1805, before the presentation of the Opera «Dneprovskaya mermaid» «by reason of the negligence of generallythere» in the theater near the stage caught fire.

So, according to choreographer Adam Glushkovsky, «from 1805 to 1823 years Peter theatre square were the charred stone walls, inhabited by birds of prey. And among them was a swamp, which was infested with frogs. In summer, morning and evening, thence to the farthest distance they could hear their cries».

In 1806, as noted by the same Glushkovsky theater, «for the debts was taken with the troupe in the Department of the Treasury». Began wandering artists. And in 1808 the famous Carlo Rossi built for this company a new temporary building theater on the Arbat, about the place where now is «sitting» the monument to Gogol. The theatre was completely wooden on a stone Foundation. This is the first and only in Moscow the construction of the Rossi already accommodate up to 3 thousand spectators and was the first building that was set on fire, when the French approached Moscow in 1812.

In 1816, the Commission for buildings has announced a competition for the project, a prerequisite of which was included in the new building charred walls of the theatre of Maddox. Funds were allocated but it was less than I expected the first project made by Andrei Mikhailov. So the plan needed alteration. It instructed the Osip Bove.

The theatre opened on 6 January 1825, the opening ceremony was performed specially written on the occasion of the prologue «the Triumph of muses» in poetry (M. Dmitriev) with choirs and dancing to music by A. Alyabyev, A. Verstovsky and F. Scholz, as well as the ballet «Sandriliona», delivered invited from France as a dancer and choreographer Gyullen F. SOR to the music of her husband, F. Sora. The muses triumphed over the fire that destroyed the old theatre building, and, headed by the Genius of Russia, played a twenty-five-Paul Mochalov, revived from the ashes a new temple of art. The building made the audience a striking impression. And though the theatre was indeed very large, to accommodate all those who wished he couldn’t.

Incidentally, the name «Great» appeared just then. Since the size of the theater was the largest building in Moscow (with the exception of the Senate) and the second in Europe after Milan’s La Scala. But said then: «Great theatre».

The mysteries of Apollo’s Quadriga

«Closer, over a wide area, stands the theatre, a work of modern art, a huge building, made according to all rules of taste, with a flat roof and imposing portico, on which stands the alabaster Apollo, standing on one leg in an alabaster chariot, still managing three alabaster horses and looking with annoyance at the Kremlin wall which jealously separates it from the ancient Holy sites of Russia!» — raved about the architectural peculiarities of this building, the cadet hussar regiment Mikhail Lermontov in his youthful essay «Panorama of Moscow».

Indeed, the main decoration of the theatre was considered to be located in the arch and is made of alabaster sculptural composition of the chariot of Apollo. Yes… Not everyone knows about it, but in the second building of the Bolshoi Petrovsky theatre had its «Quadriga»! «Crowning the portico is a sculptured group, in contrast to her profile location at Mikhailova, was delivered frontally, and the Quadriga horses reared, inhibited by Apollo, so how fast was pulled out from the arch». So, anyway, we read in the book on the history of this building researchers I. A. Kuznetsova and V. Ya Liban.

But peractum Lermontov. In his description of the horses of Apollo three! Sculptural group with 3 horses mentioned on the official website of the Bolshoi theatre. However, in many paintings of contemporaries we see the image of the Quadriga, i.e. a chariot drawn by four horses! Again puzzles…

The building stood for nearly 30 years, but early on the morning of 11 March 1853 again caught fire. Did not save even cleverly invented fire extinguishing system Bove. They simply do not have time to include. People jumped from the roof. Thank God, managed to save the boys choir of 40 people. The theatre burned for 3 days! In fact, there remained only 8 columns, the next building was inherited. It is the oldest part of the present Grand theatre.

Kavos forever

The author of that building, which we call today the Bolshoi theatre, was albert Kavos. He was born in the family of the composer and conductor, «Director of music» the Imperial theatres caterino Kavos, and this circumstance subsequently predetermined selected architect narrow specialization — architecture and entertainment centers. In 1836 Kavos rebuilt in St. Petersburg Stone theater. In 1859 they rebuilt the interior of the Mikhailovsky theatre. The last work of Cavos to rebuild in the same year at the Mariinsky theatre in St. Petersburg the he also built in the years 1847-1848 circus.

The conditions in which Kavos built their offspring? In March 1855, died the Emperor Since the coronation of the new Emperor always took place in Moscow and the coronation festivities and celebration in the Bolshoi theatre, the building was supposed to recover in a short time. And already on 14 may 1855 project Kavos was approved.

Big was even higher — 10 floors up. The tier was higher and the auditorium. He purchased the other color was white-gold with red-crimson draperies. Upstairs was a lot of Windows. At one time there was even an open gallery!

Well, what a Great theater without Apollonova chariot? And to replace the one lost in a fire, Peter Klodt has created the now famous worldwide the new Quadriga of Apollo from metal alloy, covered with red copper. Naturally, Apollo was present and then a Fig leaf hiding his manhood and lost somewhere in the beginning of XX century together with a wreath, which the sun God held in his hand, and buckle. So in Soviet times Bolsheretsky Apollo appeared in all their natural glory and as such was depicted on the banknotes. And only in our puritanical times, namely, 6 years ago, after a recent renovation, the buckle, wreath and the leaf returned to their rightful places.

August 20, 1856 in the presence of the Emperor Alexander II Opera of the Bellini «Puritans» opened the building that we now call the Great theatre.