Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater

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Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre
Operniy-5.jpg
Odessa Theatre of Opera and Ballet


Ukrainian: Одеський національний академічний театр опери та балету
Russian: Одесский национальный академический театр оперы и балета

Address 1 Tchaikovsky Street
Odessa
Ukraine
Coordinates 46°29′08″N 30°44′30″E / 46.485556°N 30.741667°E / 46.485556; 30.741667
Designation Architectural Landmark
Capacity 1,636
Construction
Opened 1810
Rebuilt 1887, Fellner & Helmer
Website
http://opera.odessa.ua

The Odessa National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet is the oldest theatre in Odessa, Ukraine. The Theatre and the Potemkin Stairs are the most famous edifices in Odessa.[1]

The first opera house was opened in 1810 and destroyed by fire in 1873. The modern building was constructed by Fellner & 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.

History[edit]

The theatre' main stage.
Audience hall of the theatre

The Saint Petersburg architect Thomas de Thomon designed the last opera theatre, it opened on 10 February 1810. This last theatre is in almost exactly the same spot as the first theatre 200 years ago. The main entrance with its colonnade faced the sea. There was no foyer.[2][3]

In 1831, Michael Vorontsov, governor-general of Ukraine, decided to assign the old instituted quarantine fees to the Odessa Theatre.[4] Historian Charles King explains that one of the medical inspectors in Odessa was also the owner of the Odessa Theatre. When ticket sales were low, he would announce the discovery of an infeciton among newly arrived passengers and ordered them to be quarantined at their own cost. The expenses of the lazaretto, where the passengers that stayed would be used to hire a major performer for the theatre.[5]

On the night of 2 January 1873, the building was gutted by fire.[6]

A fund raising campaign began immediately. The city announced an international contest for the best theatre design. Forty designs were submitted, but none was chosen.[2][7] Finally, the project was drafted along the lines of Dresden Semperoper built in 1878, with its nontraditional foyer following the curvatures of auditorium.[8]

Two Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer began to construct the larger replacement in 1883. The foundation stone was laid on 16 September 1884. On 1 October 1887 the theatre was completed, costing 1,300,000 rubles to build. It was named the Odessa City Theatre.[2][9][10][11]

The theatre was the first building in Odessa to employ the Edison Company with electric illumination.[12]

To keep theatre patrons comfortable in the summers, workers would lower waggonloads 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.[11]

In 1925 the building was burnt again in a fire.[12]

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 theatre, they gasped again, this time in admiration.[2]

During World War II, Nikita Khrushchev, concerned about the condition of the city, visited Odessa immediately after it was liberated. Khrushchev reported that only one corner of the building had been damaged by an enemy shell.[13]

The theatre was remodelled in the 1960s.[12]

The theatre sits upon shifting ground and is in danger of collapse. The first cracks in the foundation appeared almost as soon as the theatre opened. The theatre's eastern half sagged almost seven inches in its first three years, and the six walls began to tilt. Gleb Dranov, a former opera singer who sang at the theatre for 25 years, and who worked five years as a geologist, is helping repair the building.[11][12]

Construction[edit]

The building's façade is decorated in the Italian baroque style. In the niches are the busts of Mikhail Glinka, Nikolai Gogol, Alexandr Griboyedov and Alexander Pushkin. The large hall was modelled 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 theatre is a lawn with fresh flowers and shrubs.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Kaufman, Bel; Oleg Gubar (Contributor), Alexander Rozenboim (Contributor), Nicholas V. Iljine (Editor), Patricia Herlihy (Editor). (2004). Odessa Memories. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-98345-0.  p. 13.
  2. ^ a b c d Kononova, G. (1984). Odessa: A Guide. Moscow: Raduga Publishers.  p. 67
  3. ^ Karakina, p. 68 Lists the architect's name as Toma de Tomana.
  4. ^ Anthony L.H. Rhinelander. (1990). Prince Michael Vorontsov: Viceroy to the Tsar. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 0-7735-0747-7.  p. 110
  5. ^ King, Charles (2004). The Black Sea: A History. Oxford University Press: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924161-9.  p. 171
  6. ^ Karakina, Yelena; Tatyana Samoilova; Anna Ishchenko (2004). Touring Odessa. BDRUK. ISBN 966-8137-01-9.  p. 67
  7. ^ Karakina, p. 67 States: There were forty three entrants, and...Felner and Gelmer were selected.
  8. ^ Buildings for Music, Michael Forsythe, Cambridge University Press, p. 344
  9. ^ a b Herlihy, Patricia (1991) [1987]. Odessa: A History, 1794-1914. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-916458-15-6.  p. 266-7
  10. ^ Karakina, p. 70 States: The Opera and Ballet Theatre acquired its name in the early 20th century. When first created, it was simply called the City Theatre.
  11. ^ a b c Wines, Michael (November 1, 1999). "An Aged Beauty Gets a Facelift From a Geologist". The New York Times: 4. 
  12. ^ a b c d Kaufman, p. 14.
  13. ^ Khrushchev, Nikita; Sergei Khrushchev (editor) (2004). Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev: The Commissar, 1918-1945. Penn State Press: Pennsylvania State University. ISBN 0-271-02332-5.  p. 597

External links[edit]