CULTURE
Alexandre Dumas impressed by Tbilisi’s’ first theater: “I thought I was at the theater of Pompey”
24 July, 2015
Did you know that Tbilisi’s first theater was located at today’s Liberty Square? Unfortunately the unique building of the opera does not exist anymore, yet we can envisage how it used to look like centuries ago through the pictures and paintings that have been preserved till today. The construction of the theater started in 1847 at the Yerevan Square (Liberty Square at present) and was completed after four years. Specifically for its construction an Italian architect Giovanni Scudieri was invited
to Tbilisi. The facades of the theater were designed in the style of the Italian Renaissance architecture and the interior was painted by Grigol Gagarin. The hall could seat about 800 spectators. Moreover, the building of the theater included shops and warehouses in its basement, due to which the place was nicknamed “Theater- Caravanserai”. The theater hosted a number of world’s prominent opera singers and musicians.

Alexandre Dumas, famous French writer was fascinated by the Georgian theater's hall, which was not luxurious, but rather modest and decorated with good taste. In 1856 the writer used to write in his book named “Adventures in the Caucasus” while his stay in Tbilisi: “The balconies were decorated with Arabic carvings instead of ornaments, the curtain was beautifully adorned, and the stage itself looked more like a fairy palace, and not because of its expensive decorations, but for its sophisticated taste…I thought I was at the theater of Pompey. I have never seen such an impressive hall of the theater in my life….”

Unfortunately the life of the theatre was not destined to last long. In September of 1874 the building caught fire. At that time the city had neither water supply nor the fire brigade, correspondingly the small quantity of water brought in barrels from the Mtkvari River was not enough to extinguish the fire.
Go through the photos:

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Theater curtain by Grigol Gagarin
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Entrance of the theater
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Burning of the theater
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Burnt theater
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