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/ Main / News / World famous Odessa Opera Theater to celebrate its 125th anniversary

Placed: 28.09.2012 12:29:28

World famous Odessa Opera Theater to celebrate its 125th anniversary

On September 30, a Festival dated for Odessa Opera Theater’s 125th anniversary will start in our city.

From September 30 till October 6, 2012, a grand festival dedicated to the 125th anniversary of Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater will be taking place in our city.


The program of the Festival features the following events:


September 30, 6:30 p.m.
“Dedication to the Theater”
Grand gala concert featuring Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater’s conductors, opera and ballet artists, choir and orchestra’s musicians.


October 2
3 p.m. – “Theater’s History” museum exposition introduction
6:30 p.m. – “We Have to Go to the Opera Now Then” opera stage masters concert


October 3, 6:30
“Mezzanine” small stage introduction
Concert program


October 5 and 6, 6:30 p.m.
Premiere of “Aida” opera by Giuseppe Verdi




 The building of the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre is one of the greatest architectural monuments of Ukraine and one of the most beautiful theaters in the world. Opera is a real jewel of Odessa, which worthy enters the list of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.

The Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet is the oldest theater in Odessa, Ukraine. The Theater and the Potemkin Stairs are the most famous edifices in Odessa.

The first opera house was opened in 1810 and destroyed by fire in 1873. The modern building was constructed by Fellner and Helmer in neo-baroque (Vienna Baroque) style and opened in 1887. The architecture of the luxurious audience hall follows the late French rococo style. The unique acoustics of the horseshoe-designed hall allows to deliver even a whisper-low tone of voice from the stage to any part of the hall. The most recent renovation of the theater was completed in 2007.

The building's façade is decorated in the Italian baroque style. The large hall was modeled after the style of Louis XVI, and is richly decorated with gilded stucco figures and designs. The architects provided the foyer with twenty-four exits, to avoid tragedy in the case of a fire. On the side of the theater is a lawn with fresh flowers and shrubs. Above the facade there towers a group of sculptures depicting one of the Muses – Protectress of the Art Melpomene. She sits in a chariot, harnessed with four furious panthers. Downstairs, near the main entrance, there are two groups of sculptures on high pedestals embodying the comedy and tragedy: on the left - a fragment of the tragedy of Euripides “Hippolytus", on the right - the episode of the comedy by Aristophanes “Birds”. Across the pediment of the building one can see the busts of brilliant creators of Russian Literature and Art: Pushkin, Glinka, Griboyedov, Gogol, who embody the poetry, music, drama and comedy.

But the most beautiful part of the building is the auditorium. Similar to the interior of the theatre, the hall corresponds to the slogan: “Golden content for the gold form”. It is created in the style of Louis 16 - "rococo". Everything inside is created in harmony with each other: dome, columns, arches, sculptures, reliefs, candles and candlesticks, gilding. On the ceiling there are paintings - scenes from famous works of Shakespeare. And the huge luxurious crystal chandelier seems to tower over everything, weighing about 2 and half tons. The seats and boxes are covered with dark red velvet; mirrors are in gilt frames.


The Saint Petersburg architect Thomas de Thomon designed the first opera theater, opened on February 10, 1810. This first theater is in almost exactly the same spot as today's theater. The main entrance with its colonnade faced the sea.


In 1831, Michael Vorontsov, governor-general of New Russia, decided to assign the newly instituted quarantine fees to the Odessa Theater.Historian Charles King explains that one of the medical inspectors in Odessa was also the owner of the Odessa Theater. When ticket sales were low, he would announce the discovery of an infeciton among newly arrived passengers and ordered them quarantined at their own cost. The expenses of the lazaretto, where the passengers stayed, would be used to hire a major performer for the theater.

On the night of January 2, 1873, the building was gutted by fire.

A fund raising campaign began immediately. The city announced an international contest for the best theater design. Forty designs were submitted, but none were chosen.Finally, the project was drafted along the lines of Dresden Semperoper built in 1878, with its nontraditional foyer following the curvatures of auditorium.

Two Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer began to construct the larger replacement in 1883. The foundation stone was laid on September 16, 1884. On October 1, 1887 the theater was completed, costing 1,300,000 rubles to build. It was named the Odessa City Theater.
The theater was the first building in Odessa to employ the Edison Company with electric illumination.

To keep theater patrons comfortable in the summers, workers would lower wagonloads of ice and straw down a 35-foot shaft, then would carry it through a tunnel to a basement beneath the hall, where cool air rose up from vents beneath the seats.

In 1925 the building was burnt again in a fire.

There is a story that, when the Odessa people learned that the construction cost 1.3 million gold rubles, they gasped, but when they saw the new theater, they gasped again, this time in admiration.


In 1955-1956 groundwater began to destroy the foundation of the building, and it took almost 2 years of construction work to strengthen the foundation. Finally, from 1996 to 2007 the theater was completely overhauled, and this time to last for centuries. The foundation piles were reinforced in 1800, which run into the underground hard rock. Now the opera house has modern air-conditioning systems, fire alarm and power supply, internal cell phone, security, and video surveillance. It was a complete restoration of the facade and interior. Finally, on September 22nd, 2007 the Odessa Opera House was reopened, no less solemn than the first time.

The uniqueness of the Odessa Opera House is its acoustics. A whisper can be heard in the hall, which houses 1636 seats, very well in any part of it. And then there is a secret organ - when the tool is not playing, organ pipes above the second secret lodges special blinds.

The Odessa Opera House is not only interesting for its architecture, but it also has a rich creative biography. The theater deserves much of the credit for the development of musical culture in Russia and Ukraine. The works of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Eugene Ysae, Pablo Sarasate and others were performed here. Artists who made the domestic arts famous performed here. Here the great Fyodor Chaliapin, Solomiya Krushelnytska, Antonina Nezhdanova, Leonid Sobinov, Titti Ruffo, Mattia Battistini, and Eugenio Dzhiraldoni sang, and the first dancer of the world, Anna Pavlova, danced.





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