Estonian Theater of Opera and Ballet

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Estonian Theater of Opera and Ballet


(full name, Estonian Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of the Estonian SSR, commonly known as the Estonia Theater), formed in Tallinn in 1906 out of an amateur drama circle affiliated with the Estonia Choral Society, which had been founded in 1865. The theater staged musical plays and dramas. In 1949 the drama company was detached and the theater assumed its present name. The next year the theater was designated an academic theater.

In 1928 the theater performed the first Estonian national opera, Aav’s Vikerlased (The Vikings), and in 1944 it staged the first national ballet, Tubin’s Kratt (The Goblin). In the 1940’s the theater staged the first Soviet musical plays, including the opera Fire of Vengeance (1945) and the ballet Kalevipoeg (Kalev’s Son, 1948) by E. Kapp and the operetta Rummu Jüri by Arro and Normet (1955).

Among the theater’s finest operatic productions are Dzerzhinskii’s Quiet Don (1939), Ernesaks’ Stormy Coast (1949), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (1949), Mussorgsky’s Boris Godu-nov (1952), Mozart’s The Magic Flute (1964), Tamberg’s The Iron Home (1965), Kabalevskii’s Colas Breugnon (1970), and Verdi’s La Traviata (1974). Its most successful ballet productions include Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (1954), Auster’s Tiina (1955), Tamberg’s Joanna tentata (1971), and Prokofiev’s The Prodigal Son (1973).

Distinguished artists who have worked at various times at the theater include the singers I. Aav-Loo, V. Guryev, O. Lund, E. Maasik, G. Ots, K. Ots, O. Raukas, M. Taras, and B. Hansen, the ballet soloists B. Blinov, A. Koit, and H. Puur, the conductors R. Kull and V. Nerep, the stage directors A. Viner, P. Mägi, P. Pinna, and E. Uuli, and the choreographers R. Olbrei and A. Ekston.

In 1978 the theater’s leading singers were People’s Artist of the USSR T. Kuusik and People’s Artists of the Estonian SSR M. Voites, A. Kaal, H. Krumm, T. Maiste, and U. Tauts. Ballet soloists included People’s Artist of the USSR T. Randviir and People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR T. Härm. The principal conductor, People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR E. Klas, was assisted by People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR K. Raudsepp. The stage director was U. Väljaots (People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR). The principal choreographer was Honored Art Worker of the Estonian SSR M. Murdmaa; the principal choral conductor, People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR U. Järvela; and the principal stage designer, People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR L. Roosa. The theater was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1956.


Vaitmaa, M. [comp.]. Teatr“Estoniia.” Tallinn, 1974.
Paalma, V. [comp.]. Teatr “Estoniia.” Tallinn, 1978.
“Estonia” teater. Tallinn, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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