Everything you want to now about the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Moscow
photo: Vanya Berezkin

“In the last renovation they managed to restore everything to its previous extravagant beauty and bring back its glamorous look of the 19th century.

At the Auditorium the “pockets” or boxes are very close to the stage. It reminds you a little bit of La Scala. It’s the same Grand Imperial red and gold style.

The nobility preferred the boxes, because in the old days the auditorium was subject to dripping wax (and gas later) from the candles in the chandeliers.

In the boxes the women sat in front and the men stood behind them. It was not possible for men to sit in the presence of woman. The boxes were rented by families for years and years, so when you came to the theatre you knew exactly who was sitting where. It was the place to meet people, to see who was with whom, what they were wearing, etc. And of course the boxes were associated with love affairs and forbidden passions.
The box on the right of the stage belongs to the general director, and the one on the left is a government box. You can enter this box from the street without going through any public areas. In the old times the royal family were quite often in the theatre, and if they didn’t want to be seen they went straight to their box. There they could meet their guests, have fun, have tea and nobody could disturb them. Then in Soviet times this continued because Stalin was a great fan of the Bolshoi and came often. Sometimes he would come to hear just his favourite part or aria. Because Stalin was paranoid about getting assassinated, he had a bulletproof wall installed between the box and the auditorium. This box is still protected by Federal Security, so even if you are employee of the Bolshoi you have no access and nobody knows for sure who goes there now”.

Through the story of the Bolshoi one learns parts of the city’s history, the habits of the locals, the unexpected impact of a revolution on a building. Anna Zueva who is in charge of sponsors and the board of trustees at the Bolshoi, is the ideal guide to the legendary theatre whose myth and glamour are closely associated with the city of Moscow. (NOMAS, Moscow, p. 60)