The Legend of Lviv Opera

If you ask a random Lvivian which sight of architecture he likes the most, you will hear a certain answer that the Opera and Ballet theatre named after Solomiya Krushelnytska is the one. Lvivians never stop saying that there are no even than the Opera is and it is one of the most beautiful not only in Europe but in the whole world.

The Opera House was constructed in 1900 by the project of a talented architect Zygmund Gorgolewski. The first legend was created after his death. It has been told that Gorgolewski killed himself a year after construction was finished because the building started to sink slowly and burst because of the Poltva River running underneath it. The truth is that during the construction of the theatre a paved bypass for Poltva River has already been built.  Gorgolewski died from other causes.  Despite of that Lvivians never forget about streams of the choppily river water under the cobbles. In fact during the holiday parades in Soviet Union times heavy military equipment near the Opera was banned.  

Tadeusz Pawlikovsky was the first head manager of the Opera house. He was so fond of the Opera that he often gave his money to a box office to support the theatre. Day by day financial difficulties became stronger and Pawlikovsky was forced to sell his manor in Medyca.
Lviv Opera is also full of romantic tragedies. At the beginning of the last century the famous Lvivian ophthalmologist Buzhynskiy killed himself because of his unhappy love to the one of theatre actresses. In 1912 a famous Lvivian womaniser, lawyer and banker Stanislav Levytskiy during the act of jealousy, shoot his lover, an actress Yanina Oginska-Shenderovych.
Another interesting story is about a hundred year old curtain of  Lviv Opera named “Parnas”. At the end of the construction, the founders decided to make the curtain as pompous and solemn as the building was itself. So they sent a few specialists to take a look at European theatres and choose a good looking example of the curtain, which would suit Lviv the best. Among the variety of curtains they were pleased with the one at the Theatre of Milan and the one at the Theatre of Krakow. As it turned out later, Henryk Semiradski – the famous polish painter, who actually was born in Ukraine, was an author of both curtains.  Sometime later he was asked to design one for Lviv theatre.

The artist had been working on his masterpiece for four years.  When the curtain was made and it was the time for opening newly built theatre, the founders, unfortunately had no more money to pay for the curtain. All the money which were given for theatre construction were completely used. And there was no chance to ask for more.

Disappointed customers went to Italy to inform Henryk Semiradski that they could not pay for his job. They were surprised by his kindness as he did not get angry, but took them to his workshop and showed the curtain. They were speechless. A masterpiece, they have been dreaming about, was right in front of them. The great debates about magnificence of the curtain started and continued until the morning next day. Henryk Semiradski was very excited about these debates because he saw that Lvivians understand the value of his creation.
After all Henryk Semiradski made a decision to give away the curtain. He understood that no one else in the whole world will ever appreciate what he has done and there will be no place where his creation will look best. The gift was given right before the theatre was opened in 1900. Two years later the artist died but Lvivians will never forget his generousness and will be always captured by his creation.

Sculptures at Opera theatre have their own legends. Years ago there was an argument between Mr. Mars, the teacher of Lviv Polytechnic University and the students about a sculpture of Freedom which is located on the top of the Opera. He made a deal with his friends that the sculpture of Freedom looked like a pregnant woman. He was a gynecologist and he was absolutely sure about it.

To prove his words and to win the bet, Mr. Mars went to an author of the sculpture and asked an address of a model.  When he came to visit her he saw that she has had a baby indeed. Later he did some calculations and assumed that the period the sculpture had been made is the period when that woman was pregnant. At the end professor did prove that Lvivian “Freedom” is “pregnant”.