The Bolshoi Theatre is a theatre and theater company in Moscow, Russia, which gives performances of plays, ballet, and opera.
The company was founded in 1776 by Peter Urussov and Mikhail Medoks. Initially it gave performances in a private home, but 1780 it acquired the Petrovsky Theatre and began producing plays and operas.
The current building was built in 1825 on the site of the Petrovsky Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire in 1805. It was designed by architect Ossip Ivanovitch Bovet (also known as Joseph Beauvais), who had built the nearby Maly Theatre in 1824. Officially named the "Grand Theatre", it was nicknamed the "Bolshoi" ("Big Theatre") to distinguish it from the Maly ("Little" Theatre"}.
The theatre was inaugurated on 18 January 1825. Initially it presented only Russian works, but foreign composers entered the repertoire starting from 1840. A fire in 1853 caused extensive damage; reconstruction was carried out by Albert Kavos, son of Caterino Kavos, an opera composer, and reopened in 1856. During World War II, the theatre was damaged by a bomb but was promptly repaired.
The Bolshoi has been the site of many historic premieres including Tchaikovsky's La Voyavoda and Mazeppa, Rachmaninoff's Aleko and Francesca da Rimini, Glinka's Ivan Sussanin and Ruslan and Ludmila.
The Bolshoi has been associated from its beginnings with ballet, and is home to the Bolshoi Ballet troupe. Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theatre in 1877.
- Bolshoi (большо́й) is Russian for large.
- Bolshoi Theatre website (http://www.bolshoi.ru/announces_eng.shtml) (in English and Russian)