Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, designed by architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, the Grand Theatre in Lviv has been compared to the Paris and Vienna opera houses. Many European theaters can boast an extraordinary construction history, but Lviv’s opera house is unique in that it is built on top of a river. The architect proposed the radical and intriguing idea of burying the small river beneath the opera. His plans also included the use of a concrete foundation, a first for Europe. With optimistic trepidation, the city planners agreed and the Opera House was completed in 1900. The building began to sink right away, but settled in the decades that followed. The Poltva River flows beneath the stage and continues through centre deep beneath the asphalt.
By the end of the 19th century Lviv was a burgeoning city eager for a European-class theatre. The theatre was built by a famous Vienna architect Z. Gorgolevsky in the style of “Vienna pseudo Renaissance” which is a mixture of different architectural styles. This imposing building is richly decorated from the outside and has sumptuous interior. The stage is decorated with an original theatrical curtain called the “Parnassus” that was designed by famous Polish artist G. Semygradsky. “Parnassus” was painted in Rome at the end of the 19th century especially for the Lviv Opera House. The painting was exhibited in Rome and in Lviv art galleries before it was brought to the theatre right after its opening.
The theatre has celebrated its centennial recently. From that time it has the name of famous Ukrainian singer Solomia Krushelnytska. Her charming voice was heard on every famous world stage together with great singers of the 20th century such as Caruso, Batistini, Shalyapin, and conductor Toscanini. It was for Krushelnytska that Jacomo Puccini composed the opera “Cio-Cio-San”.
The contemporary professionals that call the Opera House home, include a 90-piece symphonic orchestra, more than 40 world-class opera soloists, a choir and a ballet troupe.
Today, the Lviv Opera Theater has been given the title of National Opera of Ukraine.
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