Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater
The Odessa National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet is the oldest theatre in Odessa, Ukraine. The Theatre and the Potemkin Stairs are the most famous edifices in Odessa. The first opera house was opened in 1810 and destroyed by fire in 1873. The modern building was constructed by Fellner & Helmer in neo-baroque (Vienna Baroque) style and opened in 1887. The architecture of the luxurious audience hall follows the late French rococo style. The unique acoustics of the horseshoe-designed hall allows to deliver even a whisper-low tone of voice from the stage to any part of the hall. The most recent renovation of the theater was completed in 2007.
The Saint Petersburg architect Thomas de Thomon designed the first opera theatre, it opened on 10 February 1810. This last theatre is in almost exactly the same spot as the first theatre 200 years ago. The main entrance with its colonnade faced the sea. There was no foyer.
In 1831, Michael Vorontsov, governor-general of Russian empire, Novorossia kray(currently part of Ukraine) decided to assign the old instituted quarantine fees to the Odessa Theatre. Historian Charles King explains that one of the medical inspectors in Odessa was also the owner of the Odessa Theatre. When ticket sales were low, he would announce the discovery of an infection among newly arrived passengers and ordered them to be quarantined at their own cost. The expenses of the lazaretto, where the passengers that stayed would be used to hire a major performer for the theatre.
On the night of 2 January 1873, the building was gutted by fire.
A fund raising campaign began immediately. The city announced an international contest for the best theatre design. Forty designs were submitted, but none was chosen. Finally, the project was drafted along the lines of Dresden Semperoper built in 1878, with its nontraditional foyer following the curvatures of auditorium.
Two Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer began to construct the larger replacement in 1883. The foundation stone was laid on 16 September 1884. On 1 October 1887 the theatre was completed, costing 1,300,000 rubles to build. It was named the Odessa City Theatre.
The theatre was the first building in Odessa to employ the Edison Company with electric illumination.
To keep theatre patrons comfortable in the summers, workers would lower waggonloads of ice and straw down a 35-foot shaft, then would carry it through a tunnel to a basement beneath the hall, where cool air rose up from vents beneath the seats.