When Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater reopens Friday after a six-year, $800 million renovation, opera and ballet fans in the U.S. will have the opportunity to watch it from their desks at work. The Bolshoi Theater's channel on YouTube will be broadcasting live from the reopening ceremony and gala performance starting at 11 am ET.
President Dmitry Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin will host the event billed as the “rebirth” of one of Russia’s cultural treasures, featuring opera stars Placido Domingo, Angela Gheorghiu and Natalie Dessay and ballet dancers Natalia Osipova, Svetlana Zakharova and Ivan Vasiliev.
The renovation is intended to transform the 1820s theater in central Moscow from a crumbling, acoustically inadequate beauty into a state-of-the-art facility. It is believed to be the most expensive theater renovation project ever, according to Russia's RT network.
Invitations for the event were sent out by the Kremlin administration and not by the theater itself and reports have surfaced that that ticket tickets have been up for grabs on the Internet for as much as $65,000. The Bolshoi administration denies any involvement in the matter.
"Could you imagine what the reaction would be if London's Royal Opera House gave up the entire theater to the presidential administration?" Russian music critic Marina Gaikovich told the Interfax news agency.
The restoration has been mired in controversy from the start, overshooting the original budget over four times and missing its original reopening date of 2008 as the condition of the building was found to be far worse than first believed.
Symbolically, restorers removed the Soviet hammer and sickle from the curtain, while the Soviet coat of arms has been pulled from the facade, replaced with the double-headed eagle, the Tsarist symbol readopted by Russia.