Odessa Theater of Opera and Ballet

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Odessa Theater of Opera and Ballet


an academic musical theater in the Ukraine and one of the oldest such theaters in the USSR.

The theater opened as a theater of drama and opera in 1810, in the building designed by the architect J. Thomas de Thomon in 1809. Besides Russian and Ukrainian acting companies, Italian and French companies also performed in the theater. In the 1820’s, Kauer’s opera The Dnieper Sprite and Cavos’ opera The Invisible Prince, as well as ballets, were staged in the Odessa Theater. In 1873 the theater was destroyed by fire. In 1887 a new theater was built by the Austrian architects F. Fellner and H. Helmer. The architecture of the new theater combined elements of the Renaissance and baroque and made excessive use of decorative devices; however, with respect to planning and technical design the theater was second to none in Europe.

Among the theater’s orchestral conductors (stage productions, symphony concerts) were P. I. Tchaikovsky, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and A. G. Glazunov. From 1894 to 1937 the musical director of the theater was People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR I. V. Pribik. Performers in stage productions included S. A. Krushel’nitskaia, F. I. Chaliapin, M. I. Figner, N. N. Figner, and L. V. Sobinov. Visiting performers included the singers G. Anselmi, M. Battistini, L. Giraldoni, Titta Ruffo, and E. Caruso and the dancers A. P. Pavlova, I. Duncan, and E. V. Gel’tser.

From 1911 the theater’s repertoire consisted predominantly of operas. After the October Revolution of 1917, the theater staged the following new operas: Femilidi’s The Debacle (1929), Liato-shinskii’s Zakhar Berkut (The Golden Hoop; 1930), Chiskov’s Captive of the Apple Trees (1931), Verikovskii’s Heavenly Affairs (1931) and Sotnik (1939), Dan’kevich’s Tragic Night (1935), and Khodzha-Einatov’s The Family (Seekers of Happiness; 1940). In 1923 a permanent ballet troupe was organized. In 1925 the theater was destroyed by fire, but it was rebuilt in 1926. The new theater began staging productions in Ukrainian.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the theater troupe was evacuated to Krasnoiarsk, where it combined with the Dnepropetrovsk Theater of Opera and Ballet; in 1944 it returned to Odessa. The theater stages works by Soviet composers. Krav-chenkov’s operas Cruelty (1968) and Lieutenant Schmidt (1972) were premiered at the theater. Operas and ballets by classic composers are also staged.

Conductors who performed at the theater have included A. E. Margulian, A. I. Pazovskii, N. D. Pokrovskii, S. A. Stolerman, and G. A. Stoliarov. Among the theater’s stage directors have been N. N. Bogoliubov, V. D. Manzii, Ia. I. Grechnev, V. A. Losskii, and N. M. Stefanovich. Its prominent singers have included People’s Artists of the USSR M. S. Grishko, K. A. Laptev, M. S. Patorzhinskii, and B. A. Rudenko; People’s Artists of the RSFSR G. V. Oleinichenko, A. I. Baturin, N. K. Pechkovskii, and P. I. Tsesevich; People’s Artists of the Ukrainian SSR M. P. Bem, I. I. Valikovskaia, A. I. Zhukovskaia, G. A. Polivanova, O. N. Blagovidova, Iu. S. Kiprenko-Damanskii, and K. I. Totskii.

In 1974 the theater’s company included the singers People’s Artists of the USSR R. M. Sergienko and N. A. Tkachenko and People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR A. P. Rikhter. The principal conductor was Honored Art Worker of the Ukrainian SSR B. E. Gruzin and the principal set designer, People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR and Honored Art Worker of the Georgian SSR P. A. Zlochevskii. Also in the company were the stage director G. I. Dikii, the choreographer I. A. Chernyshov, and the chorus director L. M. Butenko.


Rozen, L., and L. Shumakova. Odesskii Teatr opery i baleta. Odessa, 1964.


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