The Bolshoi – Moscow, Russia

Russia’s Most Famous and Influential Cultural Institution

For decades the Bolshoi was a sacred artistic institution, flourishing under czars and Soviet leaders alike. After the fall of Communism, Russia’s perilous economy gave rise to the rumor that the Bolshoi had exhausted itself and was now simply rehashing past glories.

But the excitement is back as one of the world’s great ballet and operatic companies evolves into a creative force once again, deserving of its majestic, gilded 19th-century theater. Although tradition remains sacrosanct – the repertory still consists primarily of the Russian classics – innovation, reform, and new blood are bringing the Bolshoi into the 21st century. Not all performances are sold out, but that doesn’t mean that tickets are easy to come by.

Check in across the street at one of the finest hotels in Russia, and be assured of top ballet seating (for which you’ll pay top dollar) while you enjoy a stay at a five-star landmark you may recognize from Doctor Zhivago. The Metropole Hotel, run by an efficient British-Russian joint venture, offers the opulence of the late 19th century.

Even if you’re not taking a room here, stop by for a drink before the ballet or come for an extravagant caviar breakfast in the posh glass-domed salon, where Lenin used to deliver impassioned speeches.

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