Friday, 23 March 2012

Большой Театр

I have been to the Bolshoi twice recently - once to see Ruslan and Ludmilla, and once to see Boris Godunov. I don't know what it looked like before the restoration, but now it is stunningly beautiful. As the BBC reported at the time, the renovation cost half a billion pounds, and took six years. They cleaned everything using vodka and squirrel tails (huh?), and replaced the frescos and gold leaf. I am not generally a fan of too much gold - I think it can look very heavy and over the top, but the effect in the Bolshoi is not like that - the place is light and sparkling.

The tickets are also a fraction of the price you pay in Covent Garden. The most expensive grade of tickets, barring I suppose what I guess used to be the royal box, cost around £100 if you buy them on the website of the Bolshoi itself (which most foreigners don't - they use tour companies instead and hence pay much more). In Covent Garden you would be paying double that on a normal night. The main problem is getting your hands on tickets, which can sell out months in advance. When the theatre reopened in October last year there was a big fuss made about tickets for the earliest shows, because ticket touters paid homeless people to stand in line all night so they could be the first to get hold of tickets.

So if you are ever in Moscow, I definitely recommend going to see something here. The sets were gorgeous, the music was amazing, and the audience appreciative (well, for Boris Godunov anyway. Ruslan and Ludmilla was a done in a modern setting complete complete with naked people wandering around the stage for no apparent reason, and so was a bit odd). Plus the subtitles are in English, so you can understand what is going on.

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