The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bove, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The theatre's original name was the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, while the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre (demolished in 1886), was called the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre.
At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property. Moscow and St. Petersburg each had only two theatres, one for opera and ballet (these were known as the Bolshoi Theatres), and one for plays (tragedies and comedies). Because opera and ballet were considered nobler than drama, the opera houses were named "Grand Theatres" and the drama theatres were called the "Smaller Theatre" ("Maly" is Russian for "small", "lesser", or "little").
The main building of the theatre, rebuilt and renovated several times during its history, is a landmark of Moscow.
The official cost of the renovation is 21 billion rubles ($688 million). However, other Russian authorities and other people connected to it claimed much more public money was spent. The renovation included restoring acoustics to the original quality.
With the destruction by fire of the Petrovka Theatre on 8 October 1805, it was replaced on 13 April 1808 with the opening of New Arbat Imperial Theatre, but, as a consequence of the French invasion of Moscow in 1812, fire destroyed that theatre.
The current theatre was built on Theatre Square between 1821 and 1824. It was designed by architect Andrei Mikhailov (who had also built the nearby Maly Theatre in 1824) and it opened on 18 January 1825 as the Bolshoi Petrovsky Theatre with a performance of Fernando Sor's ballet.