This 700-seat, extremely well-equipped theatre inspires very mixed reactions among opera experts. The company was founded in 1991 by conductor Evgeny Kolobov, who defected from the Stanislavsky Opera Theatre, taking many of the leading artists with him. He was helped considerably by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, which helps explain the ease with which the company found their new home.
Kolobov, who died in 2003, had almost complete control over all aspects of the theatre, and his idiosyncratic approach dominates the company's style, not least in the indisputably high quality of the orchestra.
The theatre has around 20 operas and musical programs in its repertoire, including radically reworked versions of Tchaikovsy's Evgeny Onegin, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, rarities like Anton Rubinstein's The Demon and Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet, and musical "entertainments" based around the life and works of, among others, Rossini and Maria Callas.
While the orchestra is almost universally admired, reviewers have often found fault with the staging and the singing and, although Kolobov's alterations to operas normally have some historical justification, it's worth noting that they generally also cut the running time of performances to a little over two hours. There is a sneaking suspicion that part of the motivation may be to mollify an audience comprised largely of rich "New Russians" less comfortable with the cultural haughtiness of the Bolshoi.
The theatre is also used by visiting ballet companies and even, on occasion, for rock concerts.