Rubelli dresses Bolshoi theatre

Following on from the Fenice in Venice, La Scala in Milan, the San Carlo in Naples, the Petruzzelli in Bari and many other theatres, Rubelli, the historic Venice textiles company, is now also a feature in Moscow’s shrine to music and ballet, the Bolshoi, i.e. the “Great Theatre”.
One of the world’s most important theatres is to be “dressed” in fabrics produced by the Venice company at its mill in Cucciago, near Como, from where over 12,000 metres of damask, luxurious lampas, brocatelle, velvet and technical fabrics left for Moscow.
Rubelli started work on the project as early as 2007, initially for the boxes, wall coverings and drapes, and later for the impressive stage curtain, or rather curtains, given that there are more than one.
The first contact with the theatre’s management dates back four years ago, when Rubelli was asked to produce, on the basis of some original samples in silk from the theatre, a damask (for the boxes, the rooms behind the boxes and pelmets) and a brocatelle (for the drapes and walls), both in red, as well as two types of flame retardant velvet (one lightweight, again for the drapes, and a very strong version for the balustrades), all in line with current regulations.
Obtaining the same colour result, a strong red, when transforming the silk into a flame retardant fabric, was not a simple matter. Many tests – all in Trevira CS - were carried out at the Rubelli mill before approval of the sample and later production and delivery of the entire order. Around 1,200 metres of the damask, a faithful reproduction of the tsarist-inspired pattern, and over 6,000 metres of the brocatelle, featuring a design with very high repeat and a slightly different shade of red compared to the damask, were produced. Over 2,000 metres of the velvet, in a medium red, were also manufactured.
At the end of 2009 a total of 9,200 metres were delivered to the theatre for immediate hanging. In actual fact opening of the theatre was postponed and the fabrics were placed in store in Moscow with the due precautions on Rubelli’s instructions.
In 2010 and 2011 the lampas and velvet for the stage curtains, side columns and balustrades of the boxes, as well as over 1,700 metres of technical fabric, were delivered in various instalments.

The stage curtain was definitely the most important, complex and precious part of the entire project.
The various phases of the stage curtain operation (initial research, design, production of samples and subsequent approval) were performed within a timescale of approximately a year and a half. At the various stages of the work numerous meetings were held, both in Italy and Russia, between the theatre’s representatives and the various members of Rubelli staff involved in the project: draughtsmen, designers and commercial staff. In addition to the Venice offices a delegation from the theatre also visited the Rubelli mill near Como, at both the opening and closing stages of the work.
The fabric of the original stage curtain, in silk and pure gold yarn, featured a very high pattern repeat (1.5 metres horizontally and over 3 metres vertically) which remained identical also in the Rubelli reproduction. This pattern contains typical elements of Soviet iconography: ears of wheat, hammer and sickle, five-point star and CCCP in Cyrillic, the equivalent of the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On the basis of the new artistic design supplied by the theatre management these elements were replaced with the double-headed tsarist imperial eagle, Saint George and the dragon and the word RUSSIA, naturally in Cyrillic.
To maintain the precious quality of the original stage curtain the Rubelli mill used 500 kilos of pure gold yarn, developed by a highly specialised spinning factory, unique of its kind in the world. The result is a precious, shiny lampas used to make two stage curtains: the first is the “classic” one made up of two lengths of cloth which, running on tracks, are gathered at the sides; the second is that which, descending from above, is used taut as a backdrop, in particular, as is customary, during speeches given by the President. A total of over 1,100 metres of lampas were supplied for the two stage curtains and for covering the side columns. There is then a third stage curtain, again in red, which required 930 metres of velvet, also used to make the valance.
For Rubelli “the Bolshoi operation”, which began in 2007, is to end with the official inauguration of the refurbished theatre scheduled for October, 28th.
As well as leading Italian theatres Rubelli fabrics are now key features in the legendary Russian theatre and from now on, show after show, tour after tour, will welcome, in a sort of embrace, the enthusiastic audiences of the Bolshoi.