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Opera House, Lviv Krushelnitskaya State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Lviv)

28 Svobody Avenue, Lviv, tel.: +38 032 272-86-72, +38 032 235-65-86.

In the late 19th century, it was decided to construct the Lviv Krushelnitskaya State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (the Theatre or the Opera House, for short), then and until 1939 known as the Grand City Theatre. In 1895, a competition for the best architectural design was announced; among the many participants, the competition attracted the Buro Fellner & Helmer company, which by that time had constructed over forty theatres in Russia, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Germany. Among the architects who worked in this company were such famous masters as, for example, Jan Zawiejski, the author of the design for Krakow Theatre.

The project of Zygmunt Gorgolewski (1845–1903), a graduate of the Berlin Architecture Academy (Germany) and the director of Lviv Art School, was unanimously recognised as the best by an independent jury of experts in Leipzig, Germany. Gorgolewski surprised the jury with his choice for the building's location, proposing the city centre despite the fact that by that time it had already been heavily built up. The architect audaciously proposed to "hide underground" the small Poltva River, which flew there, and he was the first in Europe to use a solid concrete base as a foundation.

The first stone was laid into the foundation of the Theatre in June 1897. Gorgolewski himself supervised the earthwork, the construction work and the administrative work, involving the best companies from Lviv and other cities in the construction.

The main workload was taken by the then famous construction company of the engineer Ivan Levinsky. For the construction works, local materials were used. The moulds for the marble parts and the special canvas for foyer painting were produced elsewhere. The electric lighting was installed by the Austrian company Siemens, and the stage mechanical equipment was installed by a Polish company from the city of Sanok.

The construction works lasted for almost three years. It was done using funds allocated by the city government and using donations. The construction costs amounted to 2.4 million Austrian krones.

The Theatre was built in the classical tradition, using shapes and parts of the Renaissance and Baroque architectures (this style is called Pseudo-Renaissance). Lavishly decorated inside as well as outside, the Theatre concentrated Western European sculpture and painting works of the late 19th century.

The finishing works involved such masters of sculpture as Pyotr Voytovich, Antoni Popiel, E. Pech and Tadeusz Baracz and such painters as Tadeusz Popiel, Marceli Harasimowicz, Tadeusz Rybkowski, Zygmunt Rozwadowski, Stanislaw Debicki and Stanislaw Rejchan.

The Theatre was opened on 4 October 1900. The Theatre's solemn opening involved the painter Henryk Siemiradzki, the writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, the composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski and delegations from various European theatres. During this evening, the first performance was held in the building of the Theatre; this was Wladyslaw Zelenski's "Janek", a lyrical and dramatic opera that tells about the life of Carpathian verkhovintsy, an ethnic group of Ukrainians. The main part was performed by the renowned Ukrainian tenor Aleksandr Myshuga; the part was written specially for him.

Until 1900, opera and ballet shows were produced at the theatre of Count Stanislaw Skarbek, a patron of the arts. The new Theatre was equipped for receiving touring opera and ballet companies. A resident drama company and a resident opera company worked in the Theatre.

Thanks to Tadeusz Pawlikowski, the head manager, the Lviv Opera House's initial period of work was interesting and intensive; Pawlikowski proved himself not only as an able organiser and a capable stage director, but also as a progressive public figure. His political views influenced the Theatre's repertoire, which included productions of works by the Russian writers Nikolay Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Anton Chekhov. He also did a good service to the Theatre by creating a large and highly-professional orchestra. At the time, newspapers wrote that Pawlikowski had raised the Theatre "to the level of Europe's best companies". Over the time when Pawlikowski worked at the Theatre (1900–1906), its stage saw hundreds of dramatic productions as well as 43 operas and 46 operettas.

The young Theatre's repertoire contained works by composers of various countries. Among them were the operas "The Flying Dutchman", "The Valkyrie" and "Lohengrin" by the German composer Richard Wagner, operas by the Italians Guiseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini and operas by the Frenchmen Jules Massenet, Camille Saint-Saens and Charles Gounod. Polish operatic music was represented by such names as Stanislaw Moniuszko ("The Countess"), Ignacy Jan Paderewski ("Manru"), Wladyslaw Zelenski ("Janek"), Mieczyslaw Soltys ("Rzeczpospolita babinska"), Erasm Dlusski ("Urvazi"), Henryk Skirmunt ("Pan Wolodyjowski"); Czech operatic music was represented by Bedrich Smetana ("The Bartered Bride" and "The Kiss") and Vilem Blodek ("In the Well").

In the 1901–1902 season, Myshuga performed 11 parts, in the operas "Halka" and "The Haunted Manor" by Moniuszko, "Faust" by Gounod, "Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina" Daniel Auber, "La traviata" by Verdi, "Carmen" by Georges Bizet, "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Gaetano Donizetti, "Manon" by Massenet and "Martha, or The Market at Richmond" by Friedrich Flotow.

In 1903, alongside the famous Spanish tenor Giuseppe Russitano, in the operas "Manon", "Halka", Verdi's "Il trovatore" and Giacomo Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots", Salomeya Krushelnitskaya performed with great success. On the Theatre's stage, over 40 opera parts were performed by Felomena Lopatinskaya; among them was the part of Katerina in Nikolay Arkas's Ukrainian folk opera of the same name (loosely based on the poem by Taras Shevchenko) in 1903.

In 1907, the Theatre's stage saw the outstanding tenor Modest Mentsinsky performing, among others, in Wagner's "Tannhauser" and Ruggero Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci".

In 1908, great success was enjoyed by such productions as "Faust", Arrigo Boito's "Mefistofele", and "Les Huguenots", where the main parts were performed by the bass singer Adam Didur.

At various times, the Theatre's stage saw the debuts of young Ukrainian vocalists, graduates of the Conservatory, besides O. Rusnak, Aleksandr Nosalevich, Aleksandra Lyubich-Parakhonyak, Mikhail Golinsky, Yevgeny Gushalevich, Roman Lyubinetsky, V. Kachmar, S. Fedichkovskaya, Vladislav Floriansky, Miroslav Skala-Staritsky and the already mentioned Krushelnitskaya, Didur, Myshuga and Mentsinsky, such singers as Jan Kiepura, Gemma Bellincioni, A. Dobos, J. Mann, M. Soletskaya, Ye. Chaplinsky, Ewa Bandrowska-Turska and Mattia Battistini performed there.

In 1909, the Polish composer Ludomir Rozycki, the Theatre's head conductor, wrote a large historical opera "Boleslaw the Brave", specially for the Theatre; Rozycki used the music of his symphonic poem (loosely based on works by Stanislaw Wyspianski) as a basis for the opera.

In 1911, the Theatre's current repertoire was enlarged with operas by Modest Mussorgsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky ("Boris Godunov" and "Eugene Onegin").

In 1921, the Theatre's stage saw its first ballet production, that of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".

In the 1920s, great success was enjoyed by Wagner's tetralogy "The Ring of the Nibelung" conducted by Milan Zuna and Jozef Lehrer.

The late 1930 saw a new premiere of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" staged by the conductor Loszczynski. In the subsequent seasons, Verdi's "Aida", "Falstaff" and "La forza del destino" as well as new operas by Henryk Wieniawski were staged.

In 1934, due to a financial crisis, the Theatre was closed.

In December 1939, after West Ukraine had joined the USSR, the Theatre was renamed the Lviv State Theatre of Opera and Ballet, becoming subordinate to Ukraine's Ministry of Culture. The orchestra, the chorus and the ballet company were reorganised, and among the opera soloists new people, graduates of Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa Conservatories, appeared. The positions of the head conductors were offered to M. Pokrovsky and M. Goncharov. From various cities came various kind of teachers: stage directors, ballet masters and designers.

The 1940–1941 season became a new start in the creative work of the Theatre. The season's posters included the operas "Eugene Onegin" by Tchaikovsky, "Natalka Poltavka" by Nikolay Lysenko, "La traviata" and "Aida" by Verdi, "Carmen" by Bizet, "Madama Butterfly" (staged as "Cio-Cio San") and "La boheme" by Puccini; the ballet "Don Quixote" by Ludwig Minkus; and the operetta "The Gypsy Baron" by Johann Strauss.

The premiere of "Lileya", scheduled for 26 June 1941, did not take place. The bought tickets could not be used by those who wanted to see a new ballet by the Ukrainian composer Konstantin Dankevich, because the Nazi invasion interrupted the Theatre's work. Fortunately, there were enthusiasts who awakened and revived the Theatre. For the stage director V. Blavatsky, it was not easy to come up with complete casts for the Theatre's productions; nevertheless, he managed to find musicians, chorus singers, dancers and drama actors. Blavatsky was brave enough to promote the Ukrainian folk opera "A Zaporozhyan Cossack Beyond the Danube" by Semyon Gulak-Artemovsky.

In mid-November 1941, the Theatre opened the 1941–1942 theatre season with this opera. The opera was staged by Iosif Stadnik and conducted by L. Turkevich.

During the years of the Nazi occupation, the Theatre staged the following operas: "Aida", "Carmen", "La traviata", "Madame Butterfly", "The Gypsy Baron", Verdi's "Il trovatore" and Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana". This period saw fruitful work of the ballet masters Vigiliyev, Trigubov and Stengel.

For its new productions, the Theatre also invited German conductors. Staged by Vigiliyev, "Don Quixote", Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt", Leo Delibes's "Coppelia", Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Les amours champetres" and others were a great success. According to a Spanish newspaper, the Opera House was Europe's best during the wartime.

After the Second World War, many people helped to assert Ukrainian music stage culture. It was during the post-war years that the positions of the Theatre's conductors were occupied by the Lviv composers Nikolay Kolessa and Adam Soltis and that many East Ukrainians such as Vladimir Manzy, Vladimir Sklyarenko, Mikhail Stefanovich, Z. Goncharova, Pavel Karmalyuk, V. Korbzhitsky and others moved to Lviv to take up permanent jobs at the Theatre. Some productions involved the singers and the USSR's People's Artists Boris Gmyrya, Zoya Gayday, Mariya Litvinenko-Wolgemut and I. Patorzhitsky.

In May 1945, Mikhail Verikovsky's opera "Naymychka" opened the first post-war season of the Opera House. The same season featured the operas "The Tsar's Bride" by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, "A Zaporozhyan Cossack Beyond the Danube" and "La traviata" and the ballet "Coppelia".

In the year of the 100th birthday (1956) of the great Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko, the Theatre received the writer's name. While in ten years, for its great creative success, the Theatre received the status of an academic theatre.

The Theatre was the first in Ukraine (and in the entire USSR) to stage the operas "Dalibor" by Smetana (in 1950) and "Ernani" by Verdi (in 1970) and the ballet "Pan Twardowski" by Rozycki (in 1958). A significant creative achievement of the company was "Frankiniana", a cycle of musical stage productions based on works of Franko. The cycle consisted of the ballets "The Jay's Wing" by Anatoly Kos-Antokolsky and "The Stonecutters" by Miroslav Skorik and the opera "Stolen Happiness" by Yuly Meitus. An important event was the production of Lyatoshinsky's opera "The Golden Ring", which was done by the conductor Yury Lutsov, the designer Yevgeny Lysik and the stage director Dmitry Smolich. All of them were awarded Ukraine's Shevchenko Prize.

The Theatre also staged classical and contemporary operas and ballets: Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" and "Boris Godunov", Mikhail Glinka's "Ivan Susanin", Aleksandr Borodin's "Prince Igor", Moniuszko's "The Haunted Manor" and "Halka", Amilcare Ponchielli's "La Gioconda", Wagner's "Tannhauser"; the ballets "Till Eulenspiegel" by Yevgeny Glebov, "Creation of the World" by Andrey Petrov and "Medea" by Revaz Gabichvadze; Tchaikovsky's operas "Eugene Onegin", "The Queen of Spades" and "Mazeppa" as well as all of Tchaikovsky's ballets, "Swan Lake", "The Sleeping Beauty" and "The Nutcracker"; operas by Rimsky-Korsakov, Gioachino Rossini, Donizetti, Puccini, Leoncavallo, Bizet; ballets by Reinhold Gliere, Sergey Prokofyev, Minkus, Adolphe Adam and Delibes; almost all of the opera works by Verdi, Puccini's "La boheme" and Verdi's "Messa da Requiem".

Especially much was contributed to the creative formation of the company by such conductors as the USSR's People's Artists Yaroslav Voshchak and Isidor Zak, Ukraine's People's Artists Yury Lutsov and Igor Latsanich, and Ukraine's Meritorious Artists Semyon Arbit and Ivan Yuzyuk; by such designers as the USSR's People's Artist Fyodor Nirod, Ukraine's People's Artist Yevgeny Lysik, Ukraine's Meritorious Worker of Culture O. Salman, Ukraine's Meritorious Artist Tadey Ryndzak and the designer Mikhail Ryndzak; by such ballet masters as Ukraine's People's Artist G. Yusupov and Meritorious Workers of Culture M. Zaslavsky and M. Trebubov; by such chorus masters as F. Dolgova, O. Gritsak, D. Stefanishin, Ukraine's Meritorious Worker of Culture Orest Kurash and Bogdan Geryavenko.

Great popularity was enjoyed by productions involving Ukraine's Meritorious Artists A. Vyspreva and O. Dolsky (Liza and Herman, respectively), Filipp Garanzha (Mephistopheles), O. Darchyuk and M. Torchinsky (The Miller), G. Yurovskaya (Kuma and Aida), N. Shevchenko (Juliet and Margarita), T. Bratkovskaya (Tosca, Eleonora and Elvira), M. Braginskaya (Cio-Cio San), V. Chayka (Violetta, Gilda and Leyla), Belarus' People's Artist Zinovy Baby (Jose, Radames and Cavaradossi), Ukraine's People's Artist V. Lubyanov (Mephistopheles, Gremin, Dosifey, Boris Godunov and Phillip) and Ukraine's Meritorious Artist K. Golubnichy (The Yurodivy, Scrivener, Vozny and Bomelius).

The Theatre's ballet productions involved such masters as Ukraine's People's Artists Natalya Slobodyan and German Isupov; Ukraine's Meritorious Artists S. Stalinsky, A. Pospelov, Irina Krasnogorova, O. Stratinevskaya, Petros Malkhasyants, E. Starikova, Yury Karlin; and the ballet soloists Liliya Grazhulis, K. Gordiychuk, L. Ferulyova, N. Lyubchik, V. Yakimovich, M. Matveyev, V. Lugovskaya, S. Skripnik and P. Slobodyan.

In the late 1970s, the Theatre was closed for restoration. The building's foundation was reinforced and its cellar rooms were redesigned. Stage machinery was remodelled, which allowed installing 4 plunger lifts on the stage, for placing stage sets on various levels. In niches of the foyer, busts of the writers Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Adam Mickiewicz and Aleksandr Pushkin were placed, while niches of the Mirror Room were filled with busts of the composers Mikhail Lysenko, Semyon Gulak-Artemovsky, Mikhail Glinka and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, created by the sculptors Emmanuil Mysko, Yakov Chayka, Iosif Sadovsky and Aleksandr Pilev.

The reconstructed Theatre was opened in 1984.

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Opera House, Lviv Krushelnitskaya State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet

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