A visit to Russia is not complete without a trip to the opera. Russia boasts a number of famous opera houses – some located in lesser known cities – that have a spectacular repertoire from both Russian and international composers. Here’s the ones you shouldn’t miss when in town.
The Bolshoi Theatre is one of the renowned imperial theatres and a landmark building in Moscow. The theatre was built at the start of the 19th century, opening with a ballet performance. Recently, it was closed for renovation for six years, reopening in 2011 after careful restoration. Although the Bolshoi started as a ballet theatre, there are a number of operas in the repertoire ranging from Russian composers’ works, such as Boris Godunov, A Life for the Tsar to many productions from western composers.
The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the most recognised concert halls in the world. It was created as a stage for the imperial ballet and opera troupe that previously performed only in small venues. This stage, at the time of construction, was the largest in the world. The Mariinsky is closely connected to the history of Russian opera, as many famous productions of Russian composers premiered here for the first time. These works include those of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov.
Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre
Although Perm is not the most visited city in Russia, its opera house is one of the oldest in the country. It was founded on the donations of the citizens of the city. It now holds the name of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, since the famous composer was born in the region. The theatre is sometimes referred to as ‘Tchaikovsky House’. Among the operas that premiered in the theatre were a number of modern works as well as five based on works by poet Alexander Pushkin.
Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre
This theatre was completed during the time of the Second World War. The first performances were held in 1945. Since then, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre has expanded and now holds the title of the largest theatre in Russia. In the short period of its existence, there have been over 300 ballets and operas staged at the theatre. The repertoire has won a number of awards and gained recognition overseas.
Rostov State Musical Theatre
It is considered that this musical theatre was born after the revolution, in 1919. It first started off with a very progressive repertoire, staging musicals and rock operas based on works by Russian and international artists. At the start of the 21st century, the theatre found a new home in a larger building, but also changed its status, expanding to have a ballet and an opera troupe. Now there is a broad selection of classical opera and ballet pieces staged here, maintaining the theatre’s title of the musical centre in Russia’s south.
Chuvash Opera and Ballet Theatre
The Chuvash Opera and Ballet Theatre began its creative work staging a local opera, Shivarman, in 1960 and then other Chuvash operas in later years. The theatre troupe has also successfully undertaken classical opera pieces, such as Eugene Onegin, The Barber of Seville and others. The theatre developed a prominent repertoire in the following decades when more students from the State Conservatory started joining the troupe. In 1993, the theatre was given the highest honour of being named a state theatre.
Samara Opera and Ballet Theatre
The Samara Opera and Ballet Theatre had its first performance in 1931, staging the opera of Modest Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov. Since then, it has continued to accumulate a respectable selection of classical pieces in its repertoire, but also doesn’t overlook the works of contemporary artists. The theatre is well respected in the country and has toured Russia on a number occasions, bringing its shows to the capital. The building of the theatre is a prominent example of Soviet architecture that underwent reconstruction work in 2010 to preserve the historic site.