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Lviv Opera Theatre, Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Solomiya Krushelnytska (until 1939 it was called Grand Theatre) was built from 1887 to1900, according to the project of famous Polish architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski. According to his audacious project the building was built on the Poltva River. For this purpose, the river was taken under a collector, and as its foundation for the first time in Europe concrete blocks were used.

It’s quite interesting that the townsmen until today remember that the building stands on the river. There are even legends, stating that after a year from the completion of the Opera building, the architect committed suicide, because the ground waters flooded the foundation and the building was cracked. Despite the fact that all these fears are groundless, and Gorgolewski died by natural death, under the Soviet rule during the marches and parades the movement of heavy military machines by the theater square was forbidden.

The theatre was officially opened on the October 4, 1900. The construction of the theater cost about two and a half million Austrian crowns. On the official opening of the Opera house were present such famous personalities as writer Henryk Sienkiewicz and composer Ignacy Paderewski.

The architecture of the theater combines elements of the Renaissance and Baroque styles. The building is richly decorated, both inside and outside. Facade is decorated with columns, niches and balustrades. Above the main cornice of the facade eight statues of the Muses can be seen. Above these statues the sculptural composition "The joys and miseries of life" is placed. The facade ends with a massive bronze statue of “Fame” with Palme d'Or in her hands. The statue was created by famous sculptor Piotr Wojtowicz. On the left and right sides of “Fame” bronze statues “Comedy and Drama” and “Music” are situated. Another element on the facade, deserving attention, is the big head of a lion, which is considered as the main symbol of the city.

The building amazes with the reasonableness of every single detail. Theater’s interior is decorated with gilding, colored marble and numerous sculptures and murals. The stage is decorated with the curtain "Parnassus", which was created by famous Polish artist Henrik Semiradsky in 1900. The curtain is depicting different scenes of human life with the figures of Parnassus. According to the legend, Semiradsky decided to donate the curtain to the theater, because by the time he completed the order, the theater’s administration did not have money to pay for his work.

Thanks to its beauty the theatre was compared to such opera houses as Vienna or Odessa theatres and is considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe. From 2000 the theatre’s image was placed on the 20-hryvnia banknote.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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