Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet
The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Ukrainian: Львівський Державний академічний театр опери та балету імені Соломії Крушельницької, L'vivs'kyi Derzhavnyi akademichnyi teatr Opery ta baletu imeni Solomyiyi Krushel'nyts'koii; Eng. Lviv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Solomiya Krushelnytska, Polish: Opera Lwowska) is an opera house and theatre located in Lviv, Ukraine. The building was built between 1897 and 1900. The Lwów Opera was originally called the Grand Theatre (Polish: Teatr Wielki; Ukrainian: Великий міський театр, Velykyi Mis'kyi Teatr) until it was renamed in 1939 by the Soviet authorities.
In October 1939, the building was housing the People's Assembly of Western Ukraine.
At the end of the 19th century, the municipal authorities at Lemberg, then the capital of Austrian Galicia, felt the need for a large city theatre. In 1895, the city announced an architectural competition for the best design, which attracted a large number of projects. Among the participants were the renowned Viennese architects Fellner & Helmer, whose entry was rejected as too international and eclectic.[a]
An independent jury chose the design by Zygmunt Gorgolewski, a graduate of the Berlin Building Academy and the Director of the Lemberg higher art-industrial school. Gorgolewski pleasantly surprised the jury by planning to locate the building in the centre of the city, although it was already densely built-up. In order to solve the space problem, he boldly proposed to enclose the Poltva River underground, and instead of using a traditional foundation, use a solid concrete base for the first time in Europe.
In June 1897, the first stone was placed. Gorgolewski directed construction, earthwork and decorating tasks, employing the leading masters from Lemberg and abroad. Local materials were used for the construction. Marble elements were manufactured in Vienna, whereas Belgium provided special linen for painting the foyer. The Austrian company "Siemens" was responsible for assembling the electric lights, while the hydraulic mechanization of the stage was built by the Polish railway workshop company in Sanok.
There are stories told that despite the engineering innovations used by Gorgolewski to construct the foundation of the building, it began to slowly sink because of the Poltva river running underneath it in a tunnel. Learning of the flaw, the architect took it to heart and fell into depression. In the end, in the story, he hanged himself 3 years after the construction was finished (not borne out by facts − he died of heart disease). Shortly afterwards, the building stopped sinking and remains stable nowadays.
The Lviv Opera opened on October 4, 1900. The cultural elite—painters, writers, and composers, as well as delegations from various European theatres—attended the opening festivities. Among the guests attending the ceremony were Henryk Sienkiewicz (writer), Ignacy Jan Paderewski (composer) and Henryk Siemiradzki (painter), Godzimir Małachowski (the president of Lwów), governor Leon Piniński and Marshal of Galicia Count Stanisław Badeni. A delegation from the city of Prague was headed by mayor Vladimir Srb and former headmaster of the National Theatre František Adolf Šubert. Due to the fact that both the Catholic and Orthodox archbishops had died recently, the building was blessed by the archbishop of the Armenian rite Izaak Mikołaj Isakowicz, in presence of rabbi Ezechiel Caro and the Protestant pastor Garfel.
In the evening, the newly built theater held its first performances:
- A ballet Baśń nocy świętojańskiej (Tale of the Midsummer Night) by Jan Kasprowicz and Seweryn Berson
- A lyric-dramatic opera, Janek by Władysław Żeleński, about the life of Carpathian mountain-dwellers. The major part was sung by a famous Ukrainian tenor, Oleksandr Myshuha, for whom it was specially written.
- A comedy Odludki (Recluses) by Aleksander Fredro
The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet is built in the classical tradition with using forms and details of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, also known as the Viennese neo-Renaissance style. The stucco mouldings and oil paintings on the walls and ceilings of the multi-tiered auditorium and foyer give it a richly festive appearance. The Opera's imposing facade is opulently decorated with numerous niches, Corinthian columns, pilasters, balustrades, cornices, statues, reliefs and stucco garlands. Standing in niches on either side of the main entrance are allegorical figures representing Comedy and Tragedy sculpted by Antoni Popiel and Tadeusz Baroncz; figures of muses embellish the top of the cornice. The building is crowned by large bronze statues, symbolizing Glory, Poetry and Music.
The theatre, beautifully decorated inside and outside, became a centrefold of the achievements in sculpture and painting of Western Europe at the end of the 19th century. The internal decoration was prepared by some of the most renowned Polish artists of the time. Among them were Stanisław Wójcik (allegorical sculptures of Poetry, Music, Fame, Fortune, Comedy and Tragedy), Julian Markowski, Tadeusz Wiśniowiecki, Tadeusz Barącz, Piotr Wojtowicz (relief depicting the coat of arms of Lviv), Juliusz Bełtowski (bas-relief of Gorgolewski) and Antoni Popiel (sculptures of Muses decorating the façade).
Among the painters to decorate the interior were Tadeusz Popiel (staircases), Stanisław Rejchan (main hall), Stanisław Dębicki, Stanisław Kaczor-Batowski and Marceli Harasimowicz (foyer). The team supervised by the abovementioned artists included further painters, among them Aleksander Augustynowicz, Ludwik Kohler, Walery Kryciński, Henryk Kuhn, Edward Pietsch, Zygmunt Rozwadowski, Tadeusz Rybkowski and Julian Zuber. The main curtain was decorated by Henryk Siemiradzki.
a.^ The Habsburg Empire. The World of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Original Photographs 1840-1916 by Franz Hubmann, Vienna, 1971, attributes this theatre to Fellner & Helmer.
- People's Assembly of Western Ukraine at the Encyclopedia of history of Ukraine.
- The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet official website. History: facts History of the building of the theatre
- Philipp Ther. Center Stage: Operatic Culture and Nation Building in Nineteenth-Century Central Europe. Purdue University Press. 2014. p. 104.
- Victor Hugo Lane. State culture and national identity in a multi-ethnic context: Lemberg 1772-1914. University of Michigan. 1999. p. 241.
- (Polish) Jakub Lewiński. Między tradycją, a nowoczesnością; Architektura Lwowa lat 1893-1918. Neriton. 2005. p. 145.
- Markian Prokopovych. Habsburg Lemberg: architecture, public space, and politics in the Galician capital, 1772-1914. Purdue University Press. 2009. p. 177
- Fryderyk Papée (1924). "Lwów nowoczesny - Okres samorządowy". Historia miasta Lwowa w zarysie (Concise history of the city of Lwów) (in Polish). Lwów-Warsaw: Książnica Polska.
- Zygmunt Gorgolewski, twórca gmachu Lwowskiego Teatru Wielkiego ("Zygmunt Gorgolewski, the creator of the building of the Lwów Grand Theatre"), by Piotr Marek Stański. (in Polish)
- The three were considered the most renowned Polish artists of the epoch
- The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Lviv Best Portal The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet architectural description
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lviv Opera House.|
- (Ukrainian)/(English)/(Polish) The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet - Official website
- (Ukrainian)/(English)/(Russian) Program of Lviv Opera performances (in English)
- Opera House, Lviv Krushelnitskaya State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Lviv)