In the guise of Odessa through the features of many cities in the world, but it manages to maintain its unique and unmistakable appearance.

This city is based on the Black Sea in 1794 – not a copy, but the synthesis, the result of a merger of cultures, customs, manners and temperament. By the will of the people who built it Odessa has absorbed all the experience of Urbanism, accumulated by mankind in the beginning of XIX century. Odessa compared with Paris as early as 1810, and thirty years later, was called one of the richest and most beautiful cities in Europe.

The architectural appearance of the Odessa Opera House is an eclectic Italian Renaissance and the Vienna Baroque, classical baroque and rococo style but all components are organically connected, and create a coherent composition.

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The main facade of the theater has a semi-oval shape with two side wings, from which magnificent staircase begins. The front part of the building is divided by columns and pilasters and a balcony, located in the center of the narrow two-tier portal.

The front side of the theater performed in the Viennese baroque. Externally, the building consists of three floors. Sunrooms first two columns decorated with a Tuscan order. These stories form a whole and look fundamentally, giving the structure a static view. The third floor is a light, delicate, with a careful study of details. Thanks to the many arched loggias, columns and pilasters of the Ionic order, he balances the gravity of the lower floors. Additional effects in the architectural appearance of the theater make sophisticated portico and domed roof. As a result of the construction like floating above the ground.

Above the facade stands a group of sculptures depicting the patron of theatrical art muse Melpomene in a chariot drawn by four furious panthers (allegory: a power of art is able to subdue the beastly savagery).

Portico crowned two sculptures that embody the music and dance of the left – Orpheus playing the cithara centaur, right – Muse Terpsichore dance girl teaches her art. On the pediment of the portico of the Roman numerals are given a few dates: in the first line MDCCCLXXXIV-MDCCCLXXXVII – the years of beginning and end of the construction of the theater (1884 – 1887). The second line contains the phrase «ardebat anno», indicating a fire in 1925. Then comes MCMLXVII date (1967) and the word «restitutum» ( «restored») as a reminder of the restoration work in the theater.

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The main entrance is decorated with stucco embodiment of comedy and tragedy. On the left is depicted an episode from the tragedy of Euripides ‘Hippolytus, “on the right – an episode of the comedy of Aristophanes’ Birds.” On the balustrade of the building are 16 figures of putti (babies  cupids), each of which is unique and does not repeat the rest.

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In round niches of the upper floor on the front of the building the busts of Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Griboyedov, Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Glinka. They represent something, which was built in the name of the theater – poetry, drama, comedy and music. Above the sculptures worked masters F. Netali, F. Friedl,  F. Ethel, L. Stritskius.

The auditorium of the Odessa Opera House is decorated in the style of the late French rococo, decorated with stucco ornamentation with the finest gold. The main ornamental motif – sink in the form of curls of different shapes. Figure ornamentation never repeated. Overall abundance of marble, velvet, crystal shining, glittering mirrors and gilding.

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Luxury Pleasure galleries surround the auditorium. With great finesse executed modeling in tiers along the side hallways and stairs leading to the lodges. Ceiling cover is divided into four segments, medallion, originally painted by the artist Franz Leffler (after the fire of 1925 they restored Mikhail Zandin). They depict scenes from the works of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Winter’s Tale” and “Twelfth Night, or What You Will.” In the center is a large chandelier, striking abundance of grace and fishnet details. The first stage curtain was painted as Leffler and depicts a scene from the play “Ruslan and Lyudmila”.

In terms of the building consists of a lobby, horseshoe-shaped auditorium with galleries (to 1635 places) and a rectangular stage (the area of which -. 500 sq m, arerstseny -. 200 sq. M.) With a utility room. Hall Layout radial – passages are from the center of the radii in different directions. The stairs leading to the exit of the theater, also have tiers. The building is closed by the system of galvanized steel trusses.

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At the beginning of the XIX century a young port city had a theater, not inferior to the best European standards. The theater was built on the initiative of the mayor, a distinguished statesman Duc de Richelieu, which Odessans still called briefly and with love – Duke. Among other concerns – commercial, military, construction, Duc de Richelieu did not forget that the Odessa –mingled and multilingual. And the best thing that can unite different people with their different customs, interests and languages – is music. Therefore, when Richelieu in Odessa sang the best voices of Europe.

The building of the first city theater was designed by the Italian Francesco Frapolli, and changes to the plan made a Frenchman Thomas de Thomon which raised a lot of buildings in the former capital of the Russian Empire – Petersburg. February 10, 1810 the grand opening of the theater. It was a snow-white building like an ancient temple, the facade facing the port. The hall has 800 seats (at that time in the town of 12,500 people lived). Three tiers of boxes 44 seats have been installed, behind which was a large semi-circular space, where for about 700 spectators can enjoy the show standing, as in the old Italian theaters.

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From the memoirs of evidence, “the old theater hall was three-tiered, with seventeen lodges and Gallery – under the ceiling, but so low that the public is almost touching it with their heads. Chandeliers were not, it was later suspended. Hall covered with chandeliers attached to the outer walls of boxes. The candles were tallow and wax. Scene illuminated by lamps with oil. In the gallery there was no light at all, so that the hall light and scene seemed to us, sitting in the gallery, simply dazzling. The theater has its own special, peculiar smell of soot of candles and ladies’ perfume”.

On the opening day of the City Theatre was given a one-act opera by Sergei Vyazmitinov “New Family” and a vaudeville Jacov Knyazhnin “Mourning or  consolation widow ” directed by Russian troupe actor and entrepreneur Fortunatov. Regular performances began in 1811 after the conclusion of the contract with the Russian dramatic troupe Prince Alexander Shakhovsky. The repertoire included comedy, tragedy, vaudeville and comic opera. However, after 11 years, Russian troupe stopped his speech, and at the City Theatre began to dominate the Italian opera. Monopoly on the statement received entrepreneurs Giuseppe Montovani, then Joseph Zamboni, Guglielmo Buanavolio and others.

The name “Opera” came much later, in the XX century, and the theater was called the City first. On its stage performed famous opera singers, the troupe of the Imperial and Royal Theatre. Drama and comedy were also frequent guests of the scene, the names of prominent actors and playwrights did not descend from the posters. Ballet Divertimenti in operas and ballets in the repertoire appeared later.

Opera repertoire first City Theatre productions included Gioacchino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Domenico Cimarosa, Gaetano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi. Odessa audience applauded Catherine Amatti, Arrighi and Angelica Catalani, Giuseppe Marini, Catherine Patti-Barilli, Josephine and Terezin Brombilla, Ponti del Armi Aldo Bianchi. Alexander Pushkin admitted that he was an Italian opera in Odessa “has updated the soul”.

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In 1873, in 64 years after opening, the Municipal Theatre was completely destroyed by fire. “The picture broke out and raged flame freedom was truly grand. Columns were rolling on the area, as if in pursuit of the public who had come to see the fire, “- wrote the author of the book” Old Odessa “Alexander Deribas. From the City Theatre was only ashes.

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A year later, the municipality announced a competition to design a new temple of art, which would correspond to the latest theater technology and to become equal to the best European models. As a result, the construction was entrusted to the Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, who have already established theaters in Vienna, Budapest and other European cities.

Project Fellner and Helmer was not worked out in detail, and the architects themselves during construction in Odessa is not coming. Therefore, much revised and improved local architects Felix Gonsiorovskiy, Alexander Bernardazzi and Yuri Dimitrenko.

Since the fire before laying the first stone of a new foundation it has been almost 11 years. Construction was carried out by contractors using local materials. At work it was spent enormous sum for those times – 1.5 million rubles. Naturally, such costs society is controversial, and often appear in the newspapers rather unflattering article proposals, which would be better to send the money. However, the theater was put into of the contract period – September 15, 1887. It was the first in the Novorossiysk Territory building equipped with electricity and central heating.

“Odessa theater of the best in the world!” – Exclaimed Ferdinand Fellner, arrived in Odessa on the occasion of completion, and presented the mayor Gregory Marazli gilded key to the theater. This symbolic key was placed in a metal box and sealed up at the foot of the mirror on the stairs of the western portico of the theater.

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The opening of the new theater took place on October 1, 1887. The orchestra conducted by composer Gregory Odessa Lishin sang solemn cantata and drama troupe first entrepreneur renovated theater I. Cherepennikova showed a scene from the drama of Alexander Pushkin’s “Boris Godunov” and the third act of the comedy of Alexander Griboyedov “Woe from Wit”.

Until 1919, the theater has existed as a private entertainment establishments, manage entrepreneurs. After 4 years after the opening of the new building entreprise actor he headed Imperial Theaters I. Grekov. After a year, he decided to include in the repertoire of Russian opera, and began to prepare a statement of the “Demon” by Anton Rubinstein, as well as the “Queen of Spades” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky came to Odessa and the rehearsals gave advice to implementing the major parties and the conductor Emmanuel NB.

Also, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky recommended as principal conductor Joseph Pribika, who in 1894 was appointed to the position by competition. He was music director of the Odessa Opera for forty-three years – until 1937. In the Soviet years, Joseph Pribik one of the first awarded the title of Honored, and then the People’s Artist of Ukraine and the title of Hero of Labor.

From the first years of the new theater was the center of social and musical life of Odessa. As noted in the book “60 years at the Opera” Nikolay Bogolyubov, “… in the theater staged, alternating with the Russian drama, the Italian operas. And it was in Western Europe or a famous singer or singers who would sing at the Odessa Opera House”. At the theater sang Enrico Caruso, Chaliapin, Leonid Sobinov Salome Krushelnytska Antonina Nezhdanoff. Anna Pavlova dance, Isadora Duncan, Catherine Geltser. Concerts Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Scriabin. Played dramatic actress Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, the Italian tragedian Ernesto Rossi. Conducted the orchestra Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Anton Rubinstein Eduard Napravnik, Anton Arensky, Alexander Glazunov and many others.

Theater era of prosperity came in the 1897 – 1900 years, when the agency ruled the singer and entrepreneur Alexander Siberians. In Odessa, Louise Tetratsini touring, Mattia Battistini, drama troupe Nicholas Solovtsova. Since 1903 entreprise led the singer Maria Lubkovskaya. In 1905, it organized a tour famous Italian baritone Titta Ruffo. Together with him in a number of productions – “Eugene Onegin”, “Demon” and others – performed arias Italian tenor Giuseppe Anselmi and soprano Janina Poland Wajda-Korolevich.

Director and performer of dance in those years was Thomas (Tomas) Nijinsky – the father of the world-famous dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. He created the ballet numbers, including the opera “Carmen” and “Life for the Tsar”. The productions are mainly involved students of the Warsaw School of Choreography. Own the ballet company was not in the theater. An attempt was made to its creation in the 1910s.

In 1923, the prima ballerina Ekaterina Pushkin, a graduate of the St. Petersburg school of choreography class Olga Preobrazhenskaya and Remislav Remislavsky organized a dance school, whose students included in the ballet troupe.

That same year, the head of the ballet company has become a well-known choreographer Robert Balanotti. His first was a statement of “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky (premiere – December 7, 1923). Balanotti himself sang the role of Prince Siegfried and Odette-Odile danced Ekaterina Pushkin. Over the next two years the audience saw performances of “The Little Humpbacked Horse”, “Coppelia” and an unusual interpretation of the ballet “Le Corsaire”.

In 1926, the ballet troupe led by Kasyan Goleyzovsky, in the following years – choreographers Paul Virsky Vakhtang Vronsky, and many other well-known masters of the art of ballet. On the stage shone Eugene Karosso ballerina Ekaterina Pushkin, Presnyakov Vera Dora Alidort.

The second  fire broke out at the Odessa Opera House March 15, 1925 after the opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer’s “The Prophet” – due to the careless handling of fire. The fire damaged the hall, destroyed the stage, the scenery, the costumes. Suffered music library and the curtain, on which the artist Franz Lefler depicted a scene from “Ruslan and Lyudmila”. But a year later the theater performances resumed, the scene got a new technical equipment, were equipped with two concrete curtain, which, if necessary, cut off the stage from the auditorium and office space. New decorative curtain was performed based on sketches by the famous theater artist Alexander Golovin.

After the October Revolution Odessa theater became a state, and in 1926 received the status of an academic. In those years, on the stage shone Alexander Pirogov bass, bass-cantante Plato Tsesevich, dramatic tenor Yuriy Kiporenko-Damanskii, lyric-dramatic tenor Ivan Alchevsk, “Ukrainian Chaliapin” Ivan Patorzhinsky, lyric-dramatic soprano Maria Litvinenko-Wohlgemuth and others.

The repertoire consisted of “Ruslan and Ludmilla” by Mikhail Glinka, “Mermaid” Alexander Dargomyzhsky, “Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin’s “Queen of Spades” and “Mazepa” by Peter Tchaikovsky, “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi, “Faust” by Charles Gounod and “Carmen” Georges Bizet.

Along with Russian and Western operas on the stage sounded the works of Ukrainian authors – “Taras Bulba” and “Natalka-Poltavka” Mykola Lysenko, “Cossack beyond the Danube” Semen Gulak-Artyomovsk. opera productions have appeared in the Ukrainian stories written by Russian classical composers – “Sorochinskiy Fair” by Modest Mussorgsky, “Mazeppa” and “Cherevichky” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

It was set in the theater, and the first Soviet opera – “The Tihiy Don” by Ivan Dzerzhinsky, “Shchors” Boris Liatoshynsky, “Battleship Potemkin” Olesya Chishko and others.

During the Second World War the artists was evacuated to Alma-Ata, most of the actors have moved from Odessa to Krasnoyarsk, united with the staff of the Dnepropetrovsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. Troupes of actors repeatedly went to the army, which gave about 150 concerts.

In 1944, the theater miraculously survived: the Nazis were planning to blow it during the retreat. But on April 10 the balcony of the building was posted Soviet flag – a sign of liberation of Odessa from Nazi invaders. It is from here, from the building of the theater, held a victory march through the town Soviet soldiers who liberated Odessa.

The first work on strengthening the foundation of the theater began in 1955, after it was discovered that the structure settles and its supporting structures are formed cracks. Then a unique technology has been applied to so-called “silicification ground”: through a variety of specially drilled in the foundation pits filled about 6 million liters of liquid glass.. Work was carried out around the clock, but it did not interfere with views. When the glass solidifies befall loess, turning it into a monolith of over 15 thousand. Cubic meters. m., it was announced that the building subsidence ceased in November 1956.

In 1965 it began the restoration and partial reconstruction of the theater, both outside and inside. For two years the master restore and improve all – from the tile floor to upholstery nails nineteenth century. At work it took 4 million Soviet rubles and 9 kilograms of gold leaf.

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All efforts aimed at strengthening the building in the middle of the twentieth century, as it turned out, only slowed down the destructive processes. The structure, erected in the sedimentary rocks of soil, continued to deteriorate.

In the mid 90-ies of XX century the state of the theater was considered catastrophic. In 1996, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has decided to overhaul and allocated funds for it. Work was planned to finish in 4 years. However, due to lack of funds the reconstruction dragged on for 11 years.

During this period, it was again reinforced by the foundation (this time 1800 mi piles, hammered to a depth of 14 to 18 m), blocked by the roof, renovated facade and the nearby area. Also reconstructed premises arerstseny, tablet, equipped with modern lighting and sound equipment, heating system, new fire curtain, and more. The current technical equipment of the theater meets the latest requirements. These include air conditioning, automatic directorial control, electronic regulator with programmable lighting art cybernetic unit, computer control of the movement of the stage, a complex system of fire security. Placing the chairs in the hall exclude the presence of so-called “blind spaces”, and the magnificent acoustics allows viewers to communicate even a whisper from the stage.

Successful completion of large-scale and unique on the complexity of the work has been made possible not only because of the help of the government, but also the active participation of the Odessa enterprises, donations, government officials, non-governmental organizations, entrepreneurs, ordinary citizens of Odessa, including those who now live in other cities and countries.

During the reconstruction of the theater 1996 – 2007’s troupe Opera gave performances at venues operating theaters of Odessa, performed at international festivals in different countries. Artists and orchestra toured. In 1993 and 1995, the years the orchestra traveled to Italy. In 1994, at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa stage the premiere of “Maid of Orleans” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Beethoven’s oratorio “Christ on the Mount of Olives.” In 1996 and 1997, the Italian public were presented the opera “La Traviata”, “Pagliacci”, “Cavalleria Rusticana”, “Il Trovatore,” “Tosca,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Carmen”. In 1996, fifteen thousand Spaniards for two weeks to see the performances of “Carmen,” “La Traviata”, “Pagliacci” and “Cavalleria Rusticana”. The theater troupe toured in Korea ( “Sleeping Beauty”), the US (with the concert program of the ballet), China ( “Les Sylphides” and “Carmen Suite”), Lebanon ( “Swan Lake”, “Madame Butterfly”, “Aida”, ” The Nutcracker “), Cyprus (” Rigoletto “,” Madame Butterfly “), in Switzerland (” Madame Butterfly “,” Eugene Onegin “,” La Traviata “,” La Bayadere “,” Sleeping beauty “,” Tosca “,” Giselle ” ), the United Arab Emirates ( “Carmen”), Greece ( “Nutcracker”, “Swan lake”, “Sleeping beauty”), the UK ( “The Barber of Seville”, “La Traviata”, “Rigoletto”, “Madame Butterfly”) and other countries.

In 2007, the opening day after reconstruction, Odessa Opera and Ballet Academic Theatre was awarded the status of “National”.

At the opening of the theater in 1887 by Ferdinand Fellner spoke words that today I want to repeat after him: “Firmly and unshakable as a rock, it is envious spite building and serves as the personification of strength made him the city. After a day spent in the struggle for existence, each citizen will find here calmness and clarity of mind, and at the same time and a new impetus to all that is good and noble”.


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