The history of the theatre began in the 1920s on the stage of the first State Drama Theatre which was comprised of the opera and ballet companies, chorus, and  quite a small symphony orchestra. Various musicals and drama performances, fragments from operas and ballets were staged and folk music was played there. At that time future stars of Belarusian opera and ballet studied at music colleges in Minsk, Vitebsk, and Gomel, including the State Opera and Ballet Studio which was opened in 1930 and headed by Anton Bonachich, an outstanding Russian singer who appeared with Feodor Chaliapin at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Belarusian State Opera and Ballet Studio Belarusian State Opera and Ballet Studio


For three years a galaxy of professional artists were trained at the studio, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (1931) and Georges Bizet’s Carmen (1932) were staged.

А.П. Боначичь Bonachich, Baklanov, Rachmaninov, Gryzunov

On 25 May 1933, the State Opera and Ballet Theatre was opened with the performance of Carmen; the title role was sung by Larisa Aleksandrovskaya.  Thus, a professional centre of music, drama and other performing arts was founded in Belarus, making it join the world cultural process and its people familiarize themselves with European opera heritage.

Лариса Александровская Опера "Кармэн"


Besides Carmen, the first productions of 1933 were Tchaikovsky’s operas Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, and Reinhold Glière’s ballet The Red Poppy. The first generation of the artistic staff included Ilya Gitgartz (artistic director), Georgy Petrov (conductor), Olga Borisevich (director), Lev Kramarevsky and Konstantin Muller (ballet masters); opera singers, namely Larisa Aleksandrovskaya, Rita Mlodek, Sophia Druker, Isidor Bolotin, Mikhail Denisov, and ballet soloists, namely Aleksandra Nikolaeva, Tamara Uzunova, Yulia Hirasko, Semyon Drechin, etc. The theatre also owed its fast development to renowned Russian figures of art, namely conductors Natan Grubin and Vladimir Piradov, stage directors Ilya Shlepianov and Boris Pokrovsky, ballet masters Fyodor Lopukhov and AlekseyYermolaev, set designer Sergey Nikolaev.


Салисты балета: Николаева,Хираска, Найдич, Крамаровская, Дрэчын, Антандилов, Гурвич


From 1933 to 1939, the theatre staged the following classical opera masterpieces by European and Russian composers: Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor, Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, Rusalka by Alexander Dargomyzhsky. There was a ballet studio at the theatre attended by gifted children and members of amateur societies from all parts of the country. The ballet company consisted of over a hundred well-qualified dancers.  Several ballets, namely Léo Delibes’ Coppélia, The Little Humpbacked Horse by Cesare Pugni, Peter Hertel’s La fille mal gardée, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, were staged.  

One of the major tasks of the Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus was the creation of a national repertoire. The building of the theatre on Trinity Hill designed by the renowned architect Iosif Langbard was opened solemnly on 10 March 1939 with the premiere of Mikhas Padgorny, an opera by the Belarusian composer Eugene Tikotsky.  The Fountain of Bakhchisarai was the first ballet performed on the new stage, having opened the 1939/1940 season; the production was choreographed by Kasian Goleyzovsky to the music by Boris Asafiev. 



Иосиф Лангбард Проект театр 1934 года

In general, the aforementioned period was very fruitful since three national operas were staged, namely In the Dense Forests of Palesse by Anatoly Bogatyryov, the second version of Tikotsky’s Mikhas Padgorny, and The Flower of Fortune by Aleksey Turenkov. The staging of the first Belarusian ballet, The Nightingale by Mikhail Kroshner, was another significant event that influenced our national culture as well as the theatre.  The performances of these operas were a great success during the Decade of Belarusian Art in Moscow in June 1940. 

Актеры оперы "Михась Подгорный" Золоторев с учениками


In the pre-war years the significant productions of the Belarusian theatre which determined its further development were Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, and Don Quixote by Ludwig Minkus. Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata was the last to have been premiered before the war on 22 March 1941. 

During the World War II (1941-1945) Belarus was occupied by German invaders. Minsk was subjected to heavy bombing and fell into ruin. A lot of artists joined troops and partisans; numerous artists created ensembles and performed concerts for front-line soldiers of the Soviet Army. The artists and staff of the theatre were evacuated to Gorky and Kovrov, Russian cities in the Volga region, where they continued their work.

Immediately after the liberation of the capital the company returned to Minsk, and in December 1944 the premiere of Alesya, an opera by Eugene Tikotsky (music director Mark Shneiderman, director Boris Pokrovsky, set designer Sergey Nikolaev) opened the season. This event marked the revival of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Belarus. After the renovation and reconstruction of the building damaged by bombing the work of the theatre resumed, and soon the theatre became a recognized leader in the countries of the USSR.


"Соловей" "Князь-озеро"

The premieres of Prince Lake, a ballet by Vasily Zolotarev, and Kastus Kalinousky, an opera by Dmitry Lukas (1949), were important events in the history of the national theatrical art. Besides, the highlights of the 1950-s included interpretations of Russian and foreign operatic classics, namely Ivan Susanin by Mikhail Glinka, Charles Gounod’s Faust, Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon, Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Stanisław Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor, Mazepa and Iolanta by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko, etc. Verdi’s Aida, one of the most popular productions of the theatre, was staged in 1953 and successfully shown untill 2008. Its production team included Lev Liubimov, music director, and Larisa Aleksandrovskaya, director. Meanwhile, the theatre’s productions of operas and ballets by Soviet and national composers were no less significant: Quietly Flows the Don by Ivan Dzerzhinsky, Young Guard by Yuly Meitus, Marynka by Grygory Pukst, Aleksey Turenkov’s Kupala Night and Fair Dawn, Nadzeya Durava by Anatoly Bogatyryov; A Story About Love and Ardent Hearts by Vasily Zolotarev, False Bride by Henry Wagner; and so were its classical ballet productions, including Cesare Pugni’s La Esmeralda, Adolphe Adam’s Giselle and Le Corsaire, La Bayadère by Ludwig Minkus, all ballets by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

In the following years up to the break-up of the USSR the theatre had a steady reputation as one of the renowned creative companies.  Its high artistic level was maintained by numerous celebrated conductors, including Onisim Bron, Lev Liubimov, Tatiana Kolomiytseva, Yaroslav Voshchak, Vladimir Moshensky, Gennady Provatorov, Alexander Anisimov; and noted directors, including Oleg Moralev, Dmitry Smolich, Yury Yuzhentsev, Semyon Shtein, Vyacheslav Tiupa, Margarita Izvorska-Elizarieva; as well as outstanding designers, namely Eugene Chemodurov, Ernst Heidebrecht, Eugene Zhdan, and Vyacheslav Okunev.

The new phase of the development of ballet national traditions is connected with Eugene Glebov’s music: his three ballets, The Dream, The Alpine Ballad and The Chosen One, were staged at the theatre.  Belarusian operas described different periods of the history of our country: The Star of Venus (1970) and The New Land (1982) by Yury Semeniako; The Grey Legend (1978) by Dmitry Smolsky; Life Path (1980) by Heinrich Wagner; King Stakh’s Wild Hunt (1989) by Vladimir Soltan; Andrey Bondarenko’s Prince of Novogrudok (1992); Giordano Bruno (1977), The Lady’s Visit (1995), Jubilee (2002) by Sergey Kotres; Master and Margarita (1992) by Eugene Glebov; Vyacheslav Kuznetsov’s The Diary of a Madman (2005); Bluebeard and His Wives (2006) by Victor Copytsko, etc. Masterpieces of Italian bel canto, namely Nabucco, Un ballo in mashera, Aida, Otello by Giuseppe Verdi,   Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Tosca, La bohème, and Turandot, as well as classical operas by Russian composers made up an integral part of the theatre’s opera repertoire. The grand productions of Oresteia by Sergey Taneev, War and Peace by Sergey Prokofiev, Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (Katerina Ismailova) by Dmitry Shostakovich played an important role in the history of the theatre, too.    

Т. Нижникова

А.Г. Лукашенко - открытие театра после реконструкции

On 8 March the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko took part in the grand opening of the Bolshoi Theatre after its restoration.

On 12 May 2010, the Metropolitan Bishop of Minsk and Slutzk, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus Philaret consecrated the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus.

In June 2009 Someone Else’s Wealth Does Not Serve Anyone, a Belarusian comic opera to the music by Jan Dawid Holland, premiered at the theatre. The opera had been reconstructed by Vladimir Baidov and Viktor Skorobogaty on the basis of the composer’s authentic scores; it was awarded the Special Prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus to eminent figures of culture and art.

The new period of the theatre is notable for the premieres of the following operas: Il trovatoreNabucco, Aida, Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi; Tosca and Turandot by Giacomo Puccini; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden; Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini; The Grey Legend by Dmitry Smolski; Richard Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer; Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades; new versions of  Kashchey the Immortal by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin, and Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Tchaikovsky; as well as ballets Cinderella by Sergey Prokofiev; Chopiniana to the music by Frédéric Chopin; Tristan and Isolde to the music by Richard Wagner; Herman Løvenskiold’s La SylphideThamar to the music by Mily Balakirev and Scheherezade to the music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov; Anyuta to the music by Valery Gavrilin; Adolphe Adam’s GiselleSerenade and The Nutcracker, or Another Christmas Story to the music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky; Vitaut by Vyacheslav Kuznetsov; Sechs Tänze to the music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Kara Karaev’s Seven Beauties; Cesare Pugni’s Pas de Quatre and Grand Pas from Edvard Helsted’s Flower Festival in Genzano.

Among the stagers of the productions of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus one can find such outstanding masters of ballet and opera as Nikita Dolgushin, Andris Liepa, Vladimir Vasiliev, Neeme Kuningas, Plamen Kartaloff, representatives of the George Balanchine Trust and Kylian Productions BV. From 2009 to February 2014, 40 productions premiered at the theatre. Today, the repertoire comprises 71 titles. The theatre’s productions invariably win honorable domestic and international prizes.

The theatre enjoys active international relations: from 2010 to 2013 it entered into 23 memoranda of understanding with major opera houses of the world; the Belarusian artists regularly go on tour; the names of the renowned artists, stagers, and companies often appear in the programmes of the performances by the theatre. Among them are Yury Bashmet, Uliana Lopatkina, Farukh Ruzimatov, Hibla Gerzmava, Andris and Ilze Liepa, Vladimir Vaneyev, Irina Makarova, Irina Gordei, Akhmed Agadi, Teimuraz Gugushvili, companies of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre (Israel), Georgian State Ballet, Kiev Modern-Ballet headed by Radu Poklitaru, project “Russian Seasons of the 21st Century”, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre, Latvian National Theatre, Boris Eifman Theatre, Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow, Azerbaijani State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, National Dance Company Wales (the UK), and the Estonian National Opera.

Today the soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus are honoured to continue the performing traditions of their noted predecessors. There are 67 employees at the theatre who were awarded with honorary state prizes; numerous artists have been awarded with the Special Prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus to eminent figures of culture and art, grand prizes of the Special Fund of the President of the Republic of Belarus for Support of the Talented Youth, etc.

The opening of the branches in Mogilev, Novopolotsk and Gomel was the theatre’s unique project. After the renovation of the theatre, several major cultural projects were launched, including the Minsk International Christmas Opera Forum, International Opera Forum of the CIS Countries, festival of opera and ballet “Evenings of the Bolshoi Theatre at the Radziwills’ Castle”, and the Big New Year’s Ball at the Bolshoi Theatre. In summer 2014, a new impressive project was set up, namely the festival “Ballet Summer at the Bolshoi”. Expanding the geography of the performances, the Belarusian theatre strives to present the treasures of world classical music to the Belarusian audience throughout the country, to attract and increase the audience, to create more possibilities for the aesthetic upbringing of the young generation and introducing the audience to high art.

In 2009, the Musical Salon was opened in the theatre, which was later renamed the Aleksandrovskaya Chamber Hall. The concerts of vocal and instrumental music of different epochs and styles as well as one-act classical and contemporary opera performances given as part of the project “Music Evenings at the Bolshoi” at the Aleksandroskaya Chamber Hall are among the most significant events of the Belarusian opera house. In 2012, a new project, the Evenings of Modern Ballet on the Small Stage, was set up; within its frames a number of experimental dance productions by young choreographers premiered, including Metamorphoses (music by Johann Sebastian Bach, choreography by Olga Kostel), Waiting Room (music by Oleg Khodosko, choreography by Yulia Diatko and Konstantin Kuznetsov).


High international prestige of the Belarusian theatre is evidenced by the success of its ballet company’s tours in Egypt, the UAE, Italy, Mexico, China, Korea, Lithuania, Spain, France (Paris), Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in recent years. Having recommenced after a long break, the tours of Europe prove the high professional level of the company.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko called the theatre “The pride and true national heritage of the country, its landmark and the symbol of its independence”. In 2014, the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus was awarded UNESCO’s commemorative medal, the Five Continents Medal, in recognition of its considerable contribution to the world culture on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Belarus’ membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.


Today’s repertoire of the Bolshoi Theatre comprises more than 80 opera and ballet performances (national performances, masterpieces of world classics and modern productions). From 2009 to February 2018, 60 productions premiered at the theatre.

The theatre employs 49 recipients of the Francysk Skaryna Medal, 3 recipients of the Order of Francysk Skaryna, 13 People’s Artist of the Republic of Belarus, 35 Honoured Artists of the Republic of Belarus, 2 Honoured Art Workers of the Republic of Belarus and 8 laureates of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus.

The Bolshoi Theatre tours in more than 30 countries.

30 memorandums of cooperation with countries of near and far abroad have been signed.

In 2009, the Musical Salon was opened in the theatre, it was later named the Aleksandrovskaya Chamber Hall.

In 2011 the probationer group among the students of the Belarusian State Academy of Music appeared.

In 2012 the Small Stage and branches in Mogilev, Novopolotsk and Gomel appeared in the theatre.

In 2015 the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus entered the European association of opera companies and festivals Opera Europa.

Projects of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus:

Since 2010
• The Big New Year’s Ball at the Bolshoi
• The Opera and Ballet Festival at the Radziwills’ Castle
• The unique printed source – Parterre magazine
• The Minsk International Christmas Opera Forum

Since 2012
• International Opera Forum of the CIS Countries
• International competition Competizione dell’Opera


The history of every establishment is thoroughly documented and recorded; for this purpose, archives are opened where historical records are stored. 

Administrative documents dating from 1933 and personnel documents dating from 1942 have been collected, processed and stored at the archive of the Opera and Ballet Theatre; meanwhile, permanent storage documents are passed to the Belarusian State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art.


A special attention is paid to the collecting and storage of artistic documents that serve the evidence of the theatre’s major activity.

The history of the theater started long before its official opening. The first page of the history was Belorussian Musical College where the first Opera High Class was founded by Anton Bonachich who was its first leader and organizer. On the basis of this class in October 1930 the Belarusian Studio of opera and ballet was created with the aim of preparing the opening of the Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 1933, the Studio was reorganized into the theater.

Numerous posters, pictures, articles dated from 1926 up to now are stored at the archive. A lot of historical documents were collected but most of them were stolen or damaged by German invaders. When the artists and staff returned to Minsk after the liberation of the capital, the revival of the theatre began, new productions appeared, and new posters were made. Photographers made pictures of performances, reviews were written. All those records and materials, including the ones that were given by artists, were thoroughly collected and stored. 

Today the archives of the theatre contain all official documents and a rich collection of posters, programmes, pictures, published articles about the theatre that cover all the years of its history.