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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 13:04 GMT
Bolshoi Theatre to reopen in 2009
Bolshoi Theatre
Restoration work started on the theatre in 2005
Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre will reopen in November 2009 - a year behind schedule - after emergency work was carried out to save it from collapsing.

The historic venue closed three years ago because its walls were crumbling and its foundations had shifted.

Engineers pushed back the opening date after finding that more than 75% of the structure was unstable.

"Those cracks that almost destroyed the theatre no longer scare us," head contractor Azari Lapidus said.

The reconstruction had been due to finish later this year.

"We are now planning to open on 1 November with Mikhail Glinka's opera Ruslan and Lyudmila," said Mikhail Shvydkoi, head of Russia's federal cultural agency.

This is a historic building with enormous construction difficulties
Mikhail Shvydkoi, head of Russia's federal cultural agency

Italy's La Scala orchestra and choir have also been scheduled to perform that month.

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," Shvydkoi said.

The reconstruction of the main theatre building alone will cost 18 billion roubles (370m), which is being funded by the federal government.

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 premiered there in 1877.

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