Ukrainian Theater of Opera and Ballet

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ukrainian Theater of Opera and Ballet


(full name, T. G. Shevchenko Academic Ukrainian Theater of Opera and Ballet), the oldest and most prominent musical theater of the Ukrainian SSR.

The theater opened in Kiev in 1867 with a performance by a Russian troupe of A. N. Verstovskii’s opera Askol’d’s Tomb. The theater burned down in 1896, and a new building, designed by the architect V. Shretter, was built in 1901. The repertoire included works by M. I. Glinka, P. I. Tchaikovsky, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, M. P. Mussorgsky, A. P. Borodin, A. N. Serov, G. Verdi, and R. Wagner. The theater also staged N. V. Lysen-ko’s operas Christmas Night (1903) and Nocturne (1914).

The development of opera in the theater owed a great deal to the conductors I. V. Pribik, V. I. Suk, I. O. Palitsyn, A. M. Pa-zovskii, and L. P. Shteinberg and the stage directors I. P. Prian-ishnikov and N. N. Bogoliubov. Artists who performed at the theater included E. D. Voronets, N. I. Zabela-Vrubel’, V. A. Losskii, M. E. Medvedev, A. F. Myshuga, A. V. Nezhdanova, D. A. Smirnov, L. V. Sobinov, F. I. Stravinskii, and F. I. Chalia-pin. B. F. Nijinska and M. M. Mordkin were among the directors of a small ballet company.

The October Revolution of 1917 provided great opportunities for the development of the theater. The theater was renamed the K. Liebknecht State Opera Theater in 1919 and the Kiev State Academic Ukrainian Opera in 1926. All operas were sung in Ukrainian. The theater assumed its present name in 1934 and was named in honor of T. G. Shevchenko in 1939. It was headed at that time by the conductor A. M. Pazovskii, the stage director I. M. Lapitskii, and the choreographer L. A. Zhukov. Major operas staged in the 1920’s and 1930’s included Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Bizet’s Carmen, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Lohengrin, Puccini’s Turandot, Lysenko’s Taras Bul’ba, Pashchenko’s The Revolt of the Eagle, and Knipper’s North Wind. Significant ballets staged included Glière’s The Red Poppy.

Leading figures in the theater beginning in the mid-1930’s included the conductors V. A. Dranishnikov, V. Ia. Iorish, and N. G. Rakhlin, the stage directors V. D. Manzii and N. V. Smo-lich, the choreographer P. P. Virskii, and the stage designers A. G. Petritskii and A. V. Khvostenko-Khvostov. Operas staged in these years included Liatoshinskii’s Shchors, Dzerzhinskii’s The Quiet Don and Virgin Soil Upturned, Khrennikov’s Into the Storm, Paliashvili’s Daisi, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, and Verdi’s Otello. Ballets included Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Asaf ev’s The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Krein’s Laurencia, Balanchivadze’s The Heart of the Hills, and Dan’kevich’s Lileia. A number of singers possessed a brilliant talent, for example, Z. M. Gadai, B. R. Gmyri, M. S. Grishko, M. I. Donets, Iu. S. Kiporenko-Daman-skii, M. I. Litvinenko-Vol’gemut, I. S. Patorzhinskii, O. A. Pe-trusenko, O. D. Ropskaia, and L. A. Rudenko.

At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), the theater’s company was evacuated to Ufa. From 1942 to 1944 it worked in Irkutsk in collaboration with that of the Kharkov Theater of Opera and Ballet, and in 1944 it returned to Kiev. While broadening the classical repertoire and reviving the best prewar productions, the theater also staged new works. New operas by Ukrainian composers included Zhukovskii’s Honor (1946), Meitus’ The Young Guard (1947), and Dan’kevich’s Bogdan Khmel’nitskii (1951). New Ukrainian ballets included Skorul’skii’s The Forest Song (1946) and Zhukovskii’s Rostislava (1955). The theater staged such classic Russian and Ukrainian operas as Glinka’s Ivan Susanin (1948; State Prize of the USSR, 1949), Borodin’s Prince Igor (1952), and Lysenko’s Taras Bul’ba (1955), as well as various ballets by composers from Soviet republics, for example, Khachaturian’s Gayane (1947), Prokofiev’s Cinderella (1949) and Romeo and Juliet (1955), Chulaki’s Youth (1950), Iurovskii’s Under the Sky of Italy (1952), and Iarullin’s Shurale (1955).

From the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s the Kiev Theater, while staging classic operas and ballets, has staged more and more works of Soviet composers. It has created impressive realistic productions marked by the innovative development of its best traditions. Major opera productions in the theater’s history have included Prokofiev’s War and Peace (1956), G. I. Maiboroda’s Milana (1957), The Arsenal (1960), Taras Shevchenko (1964), and Iaroslav the Wise (1975), Shebalin’s The Taming of the Shrew (1959), Shostakovich’s Katerina Izmailova (Lady Macbeth of Mtensk District; 1965,1974; T. G. Shevchenko State Prize of the Ukrainian SSR, 1976), Gubarenko’s The Destruction of the Squadron (1967), Z. Paliashvili’s Abesalom and Eteri (1972; Z. Paliashvili State Prize of the Georgian SSR, 1973), Khrennikov’s Into the Storm (1974), and Dzerzhinskii’s The Quiet Don (Grigorii Melekhov; 1976). New ballets have included Skorul’skii’s The Forest Song (second version, 1958), Kireiko’s The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1963), Khachaturian’s Spartacus (1965), Melikov’s Legend of Love (1967), Iarovinskii’s Poem About Marina (1968), and Gubarenko’s The Stone Master (1970).

Leading figures in the theater have included the conductors A. E. Margulian, V. O. Piradov, S. A. Stolerman, V. S. Tol’ba, and S. V. Turchak, the stage directors V. M. Skliarenko, N. V. Smolich, and M. P. Stefanovich, and the choreographers V. I. Vronskii and S. N. Sergeev. Prominent singers have included P. S. Belinnik, N. D. Vorvulev, N. I. Goncharenko, V. N. Gu-zhova, Iu. A. Guliaev, A. A. Ivanov, A. I. Kikot’, N. K. Kon-dratiuk, K. A. Laptev, L. D. Lobanova, K. A. Minaev, T. V. Po-nomarenko, M. D. Romenskii, B. A. Rudenko, E. I. Chavdar, and N. A. Chastii. Notable ballet dancers have included N. A. Apukhtin, A. A. Belov, A. I. Vasil’eva, E. N. Ershova, and I. P. Lukashova.

As of 1976, singers in the company included People’s Artists of the USSR D. M. Gnatiuk, E. S. Miroshnichenko, and A. B. So-lov’ianenko and People’s Artists of the Ukrainian SSR S. D. Ko-zak, V. M. Liubimova, A. Iu. Mokrenko, K. P. Radchenko, V. I. Timokhin, V. Ia. Tretiak, G. A. Tuftina, Z. P. Khristich, and M. I. Shevchenko. Principal dancers included People’s Artists of the USSR V. F. Kalinovskaia and E. M. Potapova and People’s Artists of the Ukrainian SSR A. V. Gavrilenko, V. I. Kruglov, and A. V. Lagoda. People’s Artist of the USSR K. A. Simeonov is principal conductor, and People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR D. N. Smolich is principal stage director. Honored Worker of the Arts of the Ukrainian SSR A. F. Shekera is principal choreographer, People’s Artist of the Ukrainian SSR L. N. Venediktov is principal choirmaster, and People’s Artist of the USSR F. F. Nirod is principal stage designer.

The opera company has performed in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and the ballet company has toured in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Egypt, and Japan.

The theater was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1936 and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1968.


Stefanovych, M. Kievs’kyi Derzhavnyi ordena Lenina akademichnyi teatropery ta baletu URSR im. T. H. Shevchenka. Kiev, 1968.
Stanishevs’kyi, Iu. A. Ukraïns’kyi radians’kyi muzychnyi teatr (1917-1967): Narysy istorii. Kiev, 1970.


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