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17Oct/100

Opera and Ballet Theatre in Yekaterinburg

This month Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre celebrates its 98th anniversary. The theatre is located in the city center on Lenin Avenue. It has been restored lately and looks just as in 1912 when its first season started with A Life for the Tsar - an opera by Glinka also known as Ivan Susanin. The history of Russian Ballet began in Yekaterinburg in 1914. The first ballet staged in the Urals was The Magic Flute. The ballet is on in Yekaterinburg this season.

The local theatre received international acclaim. It's especially popular in Thailand now. Every winter the theatre performs in Bangkok. The Royal Family of Thailand are huge fans of Russian culture and ballet in particular. My good friends - the violinists of Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre like to tell a story how they received a present from the King of Thailand - a vase that they nearly lost in a platskartny train during excessive drinking on their way home (musicians are human too, you know). The parcel kept on falling from the top bunk onto their heads and a provodnitsa in the train nearly threw it away. Only in Yekaterinburg they realised what kind of a present they had got. The jewelers failed to assess the vase stating it was priceless.

Despite the priceless gift from the King of Thailand, the life of Russian ballerinas hasn't changed much since the Soviet times when many of the dancers attempted to fleet to Europe or to the USA. The local ballerinas enjoy very modest salaries of 700 US$, saying however that the sensation of dancing on stage can't be compared to anything else. So they keep on tiptoeing and that is why Opera and Ballet Theatre in Yekaterinburg is always packed. Book your tickets in advance!

A few words about Russian traditions of going to the theatre: a night in an Opera is a festive occasion for the Russians. Theatre goers are dressed up so the foreigners are easily spotted by the jeans and sneakers. During an intermission people rush to the cafe to buy pastry and drinks. Beer is not common in the theatres but vodka and brandy is always available.

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