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Since the time of its construction Odessa Opera House has been called "prima" among all the sights of the World Cultural Heritage. According to its architecture, facilities, design and external decoration, it is one of the best theatres in Europe and even in the world. The magnificent Dresden Opera House constructed by the architect Gottfried Semper inspired the famous Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, who were the designers of a large collection of the splendid unique theatres round Europe. They decided to create a unique masterpiece in the historical center of Odessa. This edifice is really a part of Europe located in the south of Ukraine.
The building of Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre in Ukraine was the thirteenth in the collection of the Viennese architects. Nevertheless, "unhappy" mystic number did not affect the theatre, more than that, overcoming this mystical fate became just another wonderful story about Odessa Opera House.
The theatre was being constructed for 3 years (1884 – 1887) on the site of the First Municipal Theatre, having burnt down in 1873. The project cost one and a half million rubles and the building was equipped with the latest technology. It was the first theatre in Novorossiya region where electric light and central heating were used. "Odessa theatre is the best in the world!” – it was a reaction of the coauthor of the project Ferdinand Fellner when he saw the edifice. A great singer Fyodor Shaliapin, who sang in the best Opera Houses in the world, wrote to his wife a fter hi s firs t vi s it to Odes s a Opera House: "... I was in the theatre and I am absolutely admired for its beauty. I've never seen anything more magnificent!"
The architectural style of Odessa Opera House is the Viennese Baroque. It was the essential style in Europe (XVI – XVIII centuries). The auditorium of Odessa Opera House is decorated in the style of the late French rococo. The plafond is divided into four segments – medallions, originally painted by Franz Leffler (after the fire in 1925 they were renovated by Mikhail Zandin). The scenes from Shakespeare's "Hamlet", "Midsummer Night's Dream", "Winter's Tale" and "The Twelfth Night, or What You Will" are depicted on them. In the center there is a large chandelier, amazing by the abundance and grace of openwork details. Excellent acoustics allows viewers to hear even a whisper from the stage. The magazine "Forbes" included Odessa Opera House in the list of the most unusual great sights of Eastern Europe. O
But Odessa Opera House vivifies only during the performances when the auditorium is full of spectators and the best artists are at the stage and every visitor is able to touch High Art. E. Caruso, T. Ruffo, M. Battistini, M. Caballe, P. Tchaikovsky, N. Rimskiy-Korsakov, S. Rakhmaninov, F. Shaliapin, S. Krushelnitskaya, L. Sobinov, A. Netrebko, D. Khvorostovskiy performed at this glorified stage. The best ballet artists – A. Duncan, G. Pavlova, M. Plisetskaya, G. Ulanova, M. Liepa, V. Vasiliev – danced there. Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre plays a significant role in the cultural life of Europe and Ukraine. Such well-known and popular operas as "The Barber of Seville" by G. Rossini, "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "L'elisir d'amore" by G. Donizetti, "Tosca" by G. Puccini were first performed exactly in this theatre. The repertoire includes the world masterpieces of opera and ballet: "Un ballo in maschera", "La Traviata", "Il Trovatore", "Rigoletto", "Aida" by G. Verdi, "Tosca", "La Boheme", "Madame Butterfly", "Turandot" by G. Puccini, "Carmen" by G. Bizet, "L'elisir d'amore", "Lucia di Lammermoor" by G. Donizetti, "Iolanta", "Eugene Onegin", "The Queen of Spades" by P. Tchaikovsky, "Cossack beyond the Danube" by S. Gulak-Artemovskiy, "Katerina" by N. Arkas, "Viy" by V. Gubarenko (all operas are performed in the original language); "Les Sylphides" by F. Chopin, "La Bayadere", "Don Quixote" by L. Minkus, "Swan Lake", "The Sleeping Beauty", "The Nutcracker" by P. Tchaikovsky, "The Firebird" and "The Rite of Spring" by I. Stravinskiy, "Giselle" by A. Adan. The invitations to the international tours became the recognition of Odessa Opera House. Opera and ballet troupes, choir and orchestra of the theatre, some soloists have been performing at the international festivals in Italy, Spain, Greece, Great Britain, Finland, Germany, France, Switzerland, the USA, Japan, Canada, the UAE, Bulgaria, Lebanon, China and Korea with great success.
The theatre company includes about 650 people. There are opera soloists (54 persons), ballet dancers (96 persons), chorus singers (81 persons) and orchestra (110 persons) among them. The theatre tries to ensure the continuity of generations, nurturing talented youth. Opera and ballet troupes of Odessa Opera House are at a such high level that they can easily solve various creative tasks and offer the fruit either at their home stage or at the stages of leading musical theatres of the world. The theatre supports the best European opera and ballet traditions that blend in with the modern cultural context. The opera and ballet masters, who are People's and Honoured Artists, have been performing at the best stages in Western Europe. Young artists continue this tradition, conquering the most famous concert halls of the world with their talents. Most opera and ballet soloists are the laureates of famous international competitions, which are held in Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Portugal and Japan.
The orchestra involves the best representatives of the orchestral elite as well as talented young musicians. For the years of active creative life Odessa Orchestra was one of the leading opera orchestras in Ukraine, conquered the admiration of the public and recognition of the professionals. The huge repertoire includes the masterpieces of home and foreign musical heritage: "Carmina Burana" by K. Orff, scenic cantata "Messa da Requiem" by G. Verdi, Symphony No. 9 by L. van Beethoven, the works of R. Wagner and R. Strauss, the opera-ballet "Viy" by V. Gubarenko, the ballets "The Firebird" and "The Rite of Spring" by I. Stravinskiy. Theatre choir can be called one of the best opera choirs in our country. It has a high level of professionalism, dedication and artistry. It is involved in the whole repertoire, performing works in Italian, English, French, even in Old German and Old French.
The theatre is a living organism that is constantly searching for new creative ideas. It promotes new aesthetic priorities in opera and ballet productions. Theatre should not just satisfy the need of society in the classical art, but also forms audience taste, allowing the public to get acquainted with the best achievements of the world musical theatre. A modern, competitive theatre should outpace the tastes of the audience, guiding the home audience into the world music and theatrical context.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ODESSA OPERA HOUSE
The theater was built just in three years (1884 - 1887). During the construction of the theatre 9 kg of gold leaf were used for the interior design; during the last reconstruction – 5.7 kg of gold leaf. This is the first Opera House that was built in Ukraine. The theatre has the largest capacity of the auditorium among Ukrainian Opera Houses – 1664 seats. The theatre troupe is one of the largest in the country – more than 400 artists. Odessa Opera House is one of the few theatres that has an organ and where organ music concerts are held. The building is supported with 1800 concrete piles. The first steam heating and the first electric bulbs in the city were in Odessa Opera House. The theatre chandelier weighs 2 tons 200 kg. During the past five years almost 1 million spectators enjoyed the theatre performances.