HomeAbout the TheatreHistoryOther Life of the Odessa Theatre. A New Building

Other Life of the Odessa Theatre. A New Building

In 1873, 64 years later, The City Theatre was completely destroyed by the fire.

“The picture of the flames striving out and playing outside was really grandiose. The columns were rolling over the square as if chasing the people who had come to watch the fire”, Alexander DERIBAS wrote in his book “Old Odessa”. Only ashes were left on the place where the City Theatre used to be.

A year later the Odessa Municipality announced a competition among the architects to create a design for the new temple of arts that would be equipped with the latest innovative machinery and would become equal to the best European samples. As a result two Viennese architects Ferdinand FELNER and Herman HELMER, who had already created the theatre buildings in Vienna, Budapest and other European cities, took up the construction.

The Felner and Herman’s design was not detailed and the architects did not come to Odessa during the construction period. The best local architects, in particular Felix GONSIOROVSKY, Alexander BERNARDAZZI and Yuri DMITRENKO, had to revise and amend the design project.

It had been almost eleven years between the fire and the first stone that was put into the foundation of the building. The construction was performed by the contractors and the local constructing materials were used. 1,5 mln rubles was the enormous sum spent on the labor and materials. It was natural that such expenses would not be welcome by everyone and some critical articles with ideas of better application of funds frequented in the newspapers. Nevertheless the contractors did not breech the agreement terms and the works were completed on the 15th of September, 1887. It was the date stipulated in the contractual agreement. It was the first building in Novorossiya equipped by electricity and steam heating.

“The Odessa Theatre is the best in the world!”, Ferdinand Felner exclaimed when he came to Odessa to participate in the ceremonies dedicated to the completion of the works. Ferdinand Felner handed in a symbolic golden key to the Odessa Theatre to Gregory MARAZLI, the Odessa Mayor. That symbolic key was placed into the metal box and fixed at the foot of the big mirror installed on the stairs of the French entrance facing Pas-le-Royal Park.

The opening ceremony took place on the 1st of October, 1887. The orchestra led by the Odessa composer Gregory LISHIN performed a solemn cantata after which the drama company under I. CHEREPENNIKOV, the first entrepreneur of the renewed theatre, presented a scene from Alexander PUSHKIN’s drama Boris Godunov and Act 3 from Alexander GRIBOYEDOV’s comedy Grief of Wits.

Up to 1919 the theatre existed as a private entertainment enterprise run by entrepreneurs. I. N. GREKOV, an actor of Imperial Theatres, became the head of the enterprise in 1891. In a year, he decided to include the Russian opera into the repertoire and the enterprise started working over Demon by Anton RUBINSTEIN and The Queen of Spades by Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY. P. Tchaikovsky visited Odessa and gave certain recommendations to the lead performers and to the conductor N. B. EMMANUEL.