Tbilisi to reopen opera house that has survived tsars, Soviets and civil war – The Guardian
28 January, 2016
Tbilisi to reopen opera house that has survived tsars, Soviets and civil war – The Guardian
(1 / 10) Next
The grand opening of renovated Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre has attracted not only local media’s attention. It was also put into the spotlight by international publications. The Guardian has published an article about Tbilisi’s Opera featuring some of the most interesting details and historical events connected to this unique cultural heritage of Georgia.

Zurab Lomidze was director of the Tbilisi opera house at the time of Georgia’s 1991 civil war. As the fighting raged outside, along the capital’s Rustaveli avenue, he and other staff had stayed inside to try to protect it.

“One day a group of paramilitaries gunned down the front door, telling us they needed the opera for shelter,” he remembers. “After the gunmen left we had no front door and a wall riddled with bullets. When we opened again after the fighting, I wanted to cover that wall in glass and put up a big sign saying: ‘This is not how you treat culture’.”
geotv.ge
Tbilisi opera house has been burnt to the ground, shot at and razed over its 165-year history. Photograph: Andrew North for the Guardian

Even before it was caught up in Georgia’s post-Soviet turmoil, Tbilisi’s opera house had been burnt to the ground – twice. Then it was almost brought to its knees as the money ran out. Now, a new era beckons for the 165-year-old home of Georgian opera and ballet: this weekend the theatre is reopening its doors, following a six-year, multimillion-pound refit paid for by the country’s richest man and former prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“We hope it’s a moment of cultural rebirth for Georgia,” says Nina Ananiashvili, the director of Georgia’s State Ballet. “Culture is our face.” With just days to go before the grand opening, actors are conducting final dress rehearsals for the traditional season opener, Abesalom and Eteri.

Lomidze, now the opera’s technical director, has been overseeing preparations, among other things making sure all 800 lightbulbs in the giant 3.5-tonne chandelier hanging above the theatre hall have been replaced.
geotv.ge
Photo courtesy of Nick Infest Turashvili

Georgia has a rich tradition of performance art dating back centuries, long before it was swallowed up by the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union. The opera house’s history is also entwined with its tortured relationship with its giant neighbour. It
was built in the mid-19th century by the tsar’s pro-consul in the Caucasus as a kind of bribe, hoping to win restless Georgians over to Moscow’s rule. During communist rule, Tbilisi was established as one of the premier venues for opera and ballet outside Moscow.

But when the opera house reopened in the 1990s after the civil war, tickets had to be priced so cheap there was no money to pay staff. “It was really cold inside, but the demand was huge,” says Lomidze. “Maybe opera is a luxury, but in those years in Georgia it was more of a necessity.”

Although Georgia’s prospects have improved over the past decade, it has been a struggle to find the money for big performances and to maintain the neo-Moorish building. “It was in terrible shape by the time it closed,” says architect Leri Medzmariashvili, “but we have tried as much as possible to be faithful to the original look”.
geotv.ge
Ceiling and stained glass detailing inside. Photograph: Andrew North for the Guardian

Funding for the makeover has come from Ivanishvili, who has promised to pay for the first year’s performances on top of the 100m lari (£28m) renovation bill. Some have questioned Ivanishvili’s motives in funding this and many other big projects around the country, given the power he wields over domestic politics: prime minister for just under a year in 2012 and 2013, he founded the Georgian Dream party which is now the leading element in the ruling coalition.

The coalition faces elections in the autumn but Nikoloz Chkhetiani, chairman of Ivanishvili’s Cartu Fund charity, which oversaw the opera project, dismisses the complaints. “We didn’t plan to finish this renovation in election year,” he says.

It is not clear whether or not the money will keep flowing for the big opera and ballet stars Tbilisi wants to lure back. In recent years Georgian opera singers and dancers have had glittering careers abroad. Lado Ataneli and Tamar Iveri, who will perform the lead roles in Abesalom and Eteri this weekend, have sung many times at La Scala in Milan.

Ananiashvili, who herself won a reputation as one of the world’s greatest ballerinas for her performances with the Bolshoi in Moscow and other major ballets before returning to Tbilisi in 2004, hopes to bring some of that lustre back home. 'So often when we say we’re from Georgia,' she says, 'people think Georgia, USA'.", The Guardian reports.

Check out our gallery to see Tbilisi Opera in details:
(1 / 10) Next
Print
Other Stories
Georgian director’s film claims First Feature Award at Locarno Festival
The Locarno International Film Festival has awarded a young Georgian filmmaker Ana Urushadze's debut film Scary Mother
Great Georgian composer Gia Kancheli
August 10 marks the birthday of Gia Kancheli, great Georgian composer.
Famous musician Bjork might visit Georgia
Icelandic musician Bjork might visit Georgia by the end of the year.
Georgian blue tablecloth granted UNESCO material monument status
Georgian traditional blue tablecloth (supra) was granted the status of UNESCO material monument.
French museum raises a glass to 'cradle of wine-making' Georgia
The Local, well-known English-language digital news publisher devotes an article to the new exhibition Georgia – The Cradle of Wine 
HBO purchases Georgian film Hostages about the flight from the USSR
HBO Europe has purchased Georgian film Hostages about the true story of “Airplane Boys”, directed by Rezo Gigineishvili.
The Calvert Journal: “New Georgian cinema: discover a fresh generation of filmmakers reviving a national tradition“
The revival of Georgian filmmaking has started that can be seen from the new wave of enthusiastic Georgian directors
The Guardian about Georgian chef Tiko Tuskadze
Georgian food is earning more and more recognition internationally.
Great Georgian composer Zakaria Paliashvili
August 3 marks the birthday of Zakaria Paliashvili, great Georgian composer (1871-1933).
Georgia an honorable host in world’s wine capital Bordeaux
Exhibition Georgia – The Cradle of Wine was opened on July 31 at the “Cité des Civilisations Du Vin” (City of Wine Civilizations) in Bordeaux, France.
Father of Georgian psychology Dimitri Uznadze and his “Theory of Attitude and Set”
Dimitri Uznadze, a famous Georgian psychologist, philosopher and public benefactor, was born on December 2, 1886 in Kutaisi, a province in Western Georgia.
Top Georgian films addressing the main issues of past and present
Georgian cinema represents an integral part of Georgian culture.
Young Georgian director Data Tavadze's play staged in New York
Young Georgian theatre director, actor and playwright at Royal District Theatre, Tbilisi Data Tavadze achieved great success within the Georgian-American Theater Festival.
What Georgian kings used to wear - Art Palace publishes book about Georgian textile
The Georgian Art Palace has published a book named Textile from Georgia.
Linkin Park legendary lead singer passes away aged 41
Popular American rock band Linkin Park's lead singer Chester Bennington has died at the age of 41 after an apparent suicide by hanging at home.
Little Georgia in Tbilisi - Open Air Museum presents annual Art Gen festival
Would like to explore little Georgia and its regions in one space?
Georgian artist’s works sold in Britain and Australia
Georgian artist David Kelberashvili’s creative artworks have attracted international interest and now they are sold in the UK and Australia.
Georgia’s medieval Bagrati Cathedral removed from UNESCO cultural heritage list
Bagrati Cathedral was removed from the UNESCO cultural heritage list.
Georgian artist who paints with eye pencil
The Vernisage Gallery hosted the exhibition of a young Georgian artist named Mariam Giorgobiani.
Exclusive: A little spotlight into Peggy Lipton’s life
An actress, a singer and a model; an American hippie of the sixties and wife of famous American musician and actor Quincy Jones,
Georgian artist’s works join Picasso, Van Gogh at Brooklyn Museum
Georgian artist Levan Songulashvili’s works are now a part of Brooklyn Museum’s famous collection, including works by world famous artists.
Borjomi’s famous Kukushka train obtains intangible cultural heritage status
The famous Kukushka train on Borjomi-Kharagauli railway has been given intangible cultural heritage status.
Georgia’s ‘Golden Eye’ among 27 European Film Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss In 2017
In just about every respect, film festivals are the events of the season.
Elton John to hold two concerts in Georgia
Due to the fact that many people were unable to buy tickets for the Elton John show,
 John Dodelande presents unique modernist exhibition in Georgia
Georgian National Gallery hosts a unique and unprecedented exhibition featuring the artworks of China’s leading contemporary artists.
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
17.08.2017
18.08.2017
USD
1
USD
2.3885
2.3885
EUR
1
EUR
2.7950
2.7936
GBP
1
GBP
3.0747
3.0716
RUB
100
RUB
4.0090
4.0193
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
On August 15, with the support of Check In Georgia, Black Sea Arena, Bravo Records and Altervision Group presents project – Irakli Charkviani - History.
Aleksandre Chavchavadze’s house museum will host a classical music concert
This year, Georgian society marks the 110th anniversary of Petre Otskheli, one of the founders of Georgian modernism and stagecraft, as well as an outstanding theatrical artist.
We present the six most expensive paintings by Georgian artists, preserved at the National Museum in Tbilisi. Art expert, Eka Kiknadze talks about these paintings.
Georgian director Mariam Khatchvani’s film Dede will compete at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the largest film festival in the Czech Republic
Today Georgia hosts the annual campaign Night at the Museum and invites the lovers of art, culture and history to all the museums that are part of Georgian National Museum, for free.
One of the greatest and iconic rock groups, Aerosmith, performed at the Black Sea Arena in Georgia on May 20th.The concert lasted over an hour and a half.
Aerosmith, one of the legendary rock groups, is already in Tbilisi.
A Georgian self-taught makeup artist Ketevan Chantadze is taking part in the American Cinema Makeup School competition
World-renowned Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, who has been referred to as the “Beyoncé of Piano”and dubbed the "Pop Star Pianist’’,
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.3885
EUR
1
EUR
2.7936
GBP
1
GBP
3.0716
RUB
100
RUB
4.0193
August 2017
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31