Russia's Bolshoi theatre to reopen next year behind schedule

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Moscow, Feb 2 (UNI) Russia's world famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, will reopen in November 2009, a year behind schedule, after emergency work was carried out to save it from collapsing.

Bolshoi was closed in April 2005 as its walls were crumbling and its foundations had shifted. The reconstruction had been due to finish later this year.

Engineers pushed back the reopening schedule after finding more than 75 per cent of the structure was unstable.

The head of the Russian Federal Cultural Agency Mikhail Shvydkoi said the Bolshoi will now open on November 1 with Mikhail Glinka's opera Ruslan and Lyudmila. Italy's La Scala orchestra and choir have also been scheduled to perform in November 2009.

More than 1,000 workers have been recruited to put in steel and concrete pilings to steady the walls, which are nearly 200 years old.

''This is not a new construction. This is a historic building with enormous construction difficulties,'' Mr Shvydkoi said.

Founded in 1776 by a decree of Catherine the Great, the Bolshoi has been in its current building since 1825. Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake was premiered there in 1877.

UNI XC PD HS1501

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