States, eras, the appearance of streets and avenues, locals, even the sky above your head - everything is changing. Only symbols remain stable. For Lviv, one of these is the Opera House - a unique architectural gem that the city inherited from the Habsburg Empire.
The Lviv Opera House was built in the era when the first tram and car left the city streets and electricity appeared. By the way, the Opera House is also part of the latter, as it is among the first electrified buildings in the city. We are talking now about a time of rapid scientific and technological progress, a period when steel and concrete supplanted stone and wood.
The history of the Lviv Opera House is also about this because it was built based on a reinforced concrete structure. This is already the difference between the Lviv Opera and its famous predecessor - the Skarbek Theater (now the Maria Zankovetska Theater), which stands on massive oak logs. That is why the Lviv Opera House is a symbol of Lviv's scientific and technological progress, a symbol of beauty and artistic perfection that is worth seeing.
Building history of the Great City Theatre (now the Solomiya Krushelnytska Lviv State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet) began in 1895. Then a competition was announced, the mayor's office allocated a significant amount of money, and philanthropists and citizens raised no less money.
Among several locations for construction, they chose a rather unexpected option - Holukhovskykh Square (now -Svobody Avenue). This involved additional costs: the demolition of several houses and the relocation of the Poltva riverbed, “immersion” in the concrete collector.
The director of the Lviv Art and Industrial School Zygmunt Gorgolewski won the project competition. His achievements included the restoration of palaces and castles and the construction of temples, schools and city institutions in Berlin, Bonn and other European cities.
However, he also had serious competitors. For example, the bureau of architects Fellner & Helmer designed the Noble Casino (House of Scientists) in Lviv and the Opera House in Odesa. Several innovations were applied during the construction of the Lviv Opera House. In particular, reinforced concrete structures were used for the foundation, almost for the first time in the city. It is no less significant that the firm of Lviv engineer Ivan Levynskyi performed the main construction work. Siemens & Halske, which also operated the tram network in Lviv, installed heating and lighting. Students and professors of the Lviv Art and Industrial School worked on the scenery for the theatre.
Particular attention was paid to fire safety: a system of emergency exits was created for each balcony, maximum lighting of all corridors and stairs, and ventilation of the premises was provided.
In 1881, about 600 spectators died in Vienna due to a fire in a theatre and unsuccessfully planned evacuation routes! They could no longer ignore such issues. The grand opening of the City Theater in Lviv took place on the 4th of October, 1900, with the premiere of Wladyslaw Zelenski’s opera “Yanek”. Among the participants in the official events were city officials, Solomiya Krushelnytska, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and clergy of various denominations.
Theatre exterior and interior
Lviv Opera House is a calling card of Lviv and Ukraine. It is depicted in the national currency; the building is often compared to the most beautiful structures in the world. Given the richness of decoration and scenery of the theatre, this is justified. Above the facade of the theatre rise sculptures: Glory with a golden palm branch in the centre, the Tragedy and the Music on both sides. Their author is Ukrainian Petro Viitovych. Below we see a sculptural composition on the theme of suffering and joys of life by Antonii Popel, even lower - figures of muses and allegories.
The Theatre exterior is a gateway through which we immerse ourselves in the world of artistic symbols and luxurious decorations in the middle.
Marble steps, passing the portal with allegories of “Tragedy” and “Comedy” and a bas-relief with a portrait of Zygmunt Gorgolewski in the lobby, we enter the auditorium and mirror halls.
Above our heads are cameos with allegories and paintings dedicated to the seasons, arts and categories of the population, whose representatives made donations for the construction of the Opera House.
You can enjoy Venetian mirrors, sculptures, allegories of the seasons and parts of the world, paintings on the theme of performances and busts of prominent opera figures in the mirror hall.
The main hall of the theatre, which is in the form of a lyre, seats about a thousand visitors. In the lodges, including the former imperial, especially esteemed visitors can see the stage action. The entire perimeter of the hall is decorated with caryatids and pillars, and its decoration is a plafond with allegories and a curtain “Parnassus”, designed by Henryk Siemiradzki.
World-famous stars: Jan Kiepura, Gemma Bellincioni, Mattia Battistini, Ada Sari and famous Ukrainians - Solomiya Krushelnytska, Oleksandr Myshuga, Modest Mentsynskyi and others performed on the stage of the Lviv Opera House.
In 2000, to the centenary of its opening, the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater was named after the famous singer Solomiya Krushelnytska. Lviv National Opera became the first theatre in Ukraine to join the International Music Association “Opera Europa” (2008) and the International Dance Organization at UNESCO (2017).
Today the theatre's repertoire includes about fifty operas, operettas, ballets and concert programs: works of world classics (W. A Mozart, G. B. Pergolesi, G. Donizetti, G. Rossini, G. Verdi, R. Wagner, G. Puccini, P. Tchaikovsky, I. Stravinsky) and Ukrainian composers (D. Bortnianskyi, M. Lysenko, Yu. Meitus, M. Skoryk, Ye. Stankovych).
About half a million people from all over the world visit the Lviv National Opera every year. Chamber concerts, modern and authentic productions, and the magic of the theatre will be a great filling of your stay in Lviv.