Bolshoi Theater is one of the most magical theaters in the world and a symbol of Russian culture and history. The structure was built in 1821 but it can be traced back to 1776 when Catherine II granted a prince, the privilege of maintaining a theater. Since then, Bolshoi Theater is the oldest and the most renowned company in the world. It is by far the world’s biggest ballet company, with more than 200 dancers. It is also a world-famous leading school of ballet.
During our visit to Moscow, we couldn’t have missed a night of ballet in Bolshoi Theater. So, we bought a ballet ticket to the famous play “La Sylphide”.
It is possible to visit Bolshoi Theater in two ways: either you buy a ticket to attend a ballet or opera performance or you take a guided tour in English.
We chose to attend a performance night of ballet in Bolshoi Theater.
Of course, we bought the ticket on the Theater official web site 3 months before the performance, otherwise, we could not find any seats left.
If you want to be able to find a ticket that comes at an affordable price, then it’s important to buy it as close to the start sale date.Tickets sell out almost immediately.
We were so happy that we managed to find a ticket for a very good price (33 Euros).
But it was on the night of the performance when we had the whole image over the Bolshoi experience (the venues, the tickets and how is everything functioning)
We found out that there are 3 different performance stages:
The main stage.
Is in the historical building dating from 1856: The real Bolshoi Theater.
Here only the most important performances are taking place and it is nearly impossible to find a ticket.
The theater was refurbished a few years ago and everything shines in gold and red.
One glass of champagne cost about 35 EUR which is ridiculous for Europeans.
Tickets are very hard to get through normal ways and you must go through agencies that have huge commissions.
The new stage.
It is situated in a building near the historical one, but more modest and modern. It was built to house the performances while the main stage was being restored. In this stage operas and ballets are performed in the same artistic quality they say but you won’t have the chance to visit the main building.
Of course, this was the stage that we were sent to. It was a huge surprise for us because we came to see the great Bolshoi Theater.
And there is also the Beethoven Hall at the entrance of the historic building, which is used for concert programs.
Another way to visit the Bolshoi Theater is by using a guided tour. The theater itself organizes guided tours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The ticket cannot be bought online. You must buy them on the same day of visit at the sales desk. Since the tours are limited to 20 people per group, it is advisable to arrive early morning. Even thought, it is a chance you won’t get to visit the place because locals have priority. We spoke to lots of tourists that there were so disappointed about the system and how everything works. Many of them couldn’t visit it.
So, the day of our Bolshoi evening visit came up. We dressed up accordingly to the event and left the hotel.
It was quite late and we barley reached the entranced of the Grand Bolshoi Theater, when a security guy told us that we had to go to the new building, to the New Stage. Hmm!!! This was the first disappointment: we bought the ticket for Bolshoi Theater, how come we won’t enter to Bolshoi Theater?!
Later I found out that in New Stage the availability is greater and the prices are cheaper. On the new stage, you have a much better chance of getting a good seat. In fact, I recommend new stage productions over main stage productions – same dancers, much better view at cheaper prices. For this stage, anything in the middle third of the seats will be good – even if you buy all the way back in the top balcony, fifth row. Also, any first row seat on any balcony will be decent.
So, we went to the New Stage and after stepping to the building, we were expecting to see glamour and people very well dresses. You know, like for Bolshoi Theater. But no! It seemed more a casual dress code.
In the summer things get a little more casual because of temperatures and the tourists.
I have seen people in the theater in jeans and I haven’t seen anyone denied entrance for casual clothing.
Even though, the New Stage building is magnificent and impressive inside and outside that we couldn’t believe our eyes.
Soon it was announced the begging of the play and everybody went to the Performance Hall. Once there we stepped in silence. We took our sets and the ballet started.
La Sylphide is one of the world’s oldest surviving romantic ballets. The orchestra’s music was touching your soul, not to mention the ballerinas and the whole imagine. It was impressive and amazing!
As a bottom line.
Bolshoi Theater it is a truly remarkable experience that you shouldn’t miss in Moscow, but it was shadowed by the system and by the cultural misunderstandings. Or maybe my expectation were so high that could be backup by the reality. All in all was an excellent experience.
You can find more things about the performances on their official website here.