Historic Double-Headed Eagle
Restored to Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow

Restoration on the Bolshoi Theatre began in 2005

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For the past five years, the Bolshoi Theatre has been undergoing a major restoration which includes the reconstruction of the historical appearance of the famous Moscow landmark.

Restoration work inside the theatre this month was highlighted by the removal of the Soviet hammer and sickle and replacing them with the double-headed eagle. The emblem of the Romanov dynasty has been returned to its original place over the former Tsarís Box, where the Imperial family would take in opera and ballet performances. It will now be known as the Presidentís Box. The main hall of the theatre is gradually acquiring its former look Ė the one it had in 1856 during the coronation festivities in honour of Emperor Alexander II.

The double-headed eagle remained in its original form until 1924 when it was replaced on the arms of the Soviet Union, who subsequently updated in accordance with the changes undergone by the main symbol of the country. The decision to replace the old Soviet symbols was made in 2006. Great care was taken to restore them to their original based on extensive scientific research, historical and archival research.

Meanwhile, restoration work on all the facades of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater will be completed by the end of October. After reconstruction, the theater will have a back stage, extra foyers and cafeterias, and underground premises that will also accommodate spacious storage for stage decorations. The work is expected to create an extra 50,000 sq meters of space in the building.

The reconstruction efforts in the theater, built in 1825, were launched in 2005 and were initially due to be completed in 2008, but the project has been marred with repeated schedule delays and a misspending scandal.

Russian prosecutors opened a probe last year into the suspected embezzlement of millions of dollars during the renovation.

The Moscow government has announced that the historical Bolshoi Theatre will officially reopen on October 2, 2011 when a grandiose gala concert will be held.

Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
27 October, 2010