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Bolshoi Theatre to reopen post reconstruction

April 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
After years of construction and fraud accusations, Russia's iconic Bolshoi Theatre is preparing to reopen.

A subcontractor announced on Monday that the theatre will look just as it did during its czarist era. When the theatre is finished in October, it will be restored in its original 19th-century design including embroidered silk tapestry and acoustics-improving fir and papier-mache panels.

The building will also have its original violin-shaped auditorium.

The contracting company, Summa Capita, said some 3,500 construction workers are currently working in shifts, adding sophisticated electronic and hydraulic devices to the theatre. The stage floor will be redesigned to ease the ballet dancers' pain and there will also be an underground stage located just 30 yards away from the nearest metro station.

The 1825 building stood on thousands of oak stilts in central Moscow's constantly moist soil, but after nearby rivulets were encapsulated in underground pipes, the stilts dried up and collapsed. It was further damaged by fires and a 1941 Nazi bombing.

In 2005, the theatre closed for reconstruction that authorities now say has cost at least $660 million, surpassing the original estimate 16 times. Productions continued at a nearby auxiliary theater.

Investigators said in 2009 that millions of dollars have been misspent by a subcontractor, and the Moscow government has several times fired subcontractors and officials responsible for the reconstruction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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