The Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater is the oldest theater in Odessa, originally opened in 1810. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1873 and was rebuilt in 1887 with elements of neo-Renaissance, Baroque, rococo and classical baroque elements. Niches on the top floor of the façade display busts of Mikhail Glinka, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Griboyedov and Alexander Pushkin. The main entrance is decorated with stucco molding depicting dramatic and comedic episodes. The theater’s large, horseshoe-shaped hall is decorated with gilded stucco figures and designs and features unique acoustics that allow even a whispered voice to reach any part of the hall.
In its early days, to keep theater patrons comfortable during the summer months, workers would lower ice and straw to the basement below the hall, from where cool air would then rise up through vents beneath the seats. Although it was renovated in 2007, the theater sits upon precarious ground and is in danger of eventually collapsing.
The theater is located in the center of Odessa, just steps from the famous Potemkin Stairs. Theater-goers are expected to dress up; shorts, t-shirts, and “clothes for sport and beach” are not permitted. Children under the age of seven are not allowed at evening performances. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, but note that for current performances, tickets are available only one hour beforehand.