The Bolshoi is Russia’s main national theatre. It bears the traditions of Russian music culture as well as it assumes its role as a centre of world music culture in the country. The Theatre is also the main driver of the development of Russian performing arts. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world. The ballet company is by far the biggest in the world, having more than 200 dancers.
Opened on 18 January 1825 (reopened on 20 August 1856 after a fire), its repertoire may be divided into three categories: the Russian classics, western classics (the 20th century included in both of them), and specially commissioned works. The Bolshoi Theatre declares its performances to be accessible to each citizen of Russia, thus selling 20% of tickets at reduced prices. In addition, the Bolshoi Students’ programme ensures that for each performance, both on the Main and the New Stages of the Theatre, there are a number of tickets put aside at special discount prices for day students at institutions of higher education.
The Theatre tries to guarantee continuity between generations by promoting the artistic development of young people with talent. With this purposes, the Youth Opera Programme was set up in October 2009 to foster and perfect the skills of opera stars of the future. For two years young singers and pianists from Russia and the CIS countries, selected on the basis of auditions, are coached in different disciplines, including voice studies, stage movement and acting skills, foreign languages and attendance at master-classes given by famous singers and coaches. Each of the Programme participants is also provided with plenty of opportunity to perform on stage, singing supporting roles in the Theatre’s current productions and understudying the Opera Company’s lead singers. Concert work is another important part of their training.
The Programme’s goal is to nurture a new generation of Russian singers matching up to world standards, strengthen the position of the Russian school of singing in the world at large and to train a new intake for work at the Theatre itself. Participants are given a grant for the entire period of their training with the Programme. Members who are non-Moscow residents are provided with hostel accommodation. Those Young Artists Opera Programme participants who are most successful in terms of the results of their training are offered a long-term contract with the Theatre to include leading roles in the operatic repertoire.