Machinery by Gerriets raises the Curtain on long-awaited Bolshoi Theater Renovation

Umkirch, 18. June 2012

Renowned the world over for its ballet and opera productions, the Bolshoi Theater reopened this past October, after renovations and restoration that took six years and more than 700 million dollars. We are delighted to report that the motorized systems operating the stage curtains at this iconic theater were custom-manufactured by Gerriets GmbH.

Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi opened on the current site in Moscow in 1825. The building was destroyed by fire in 1853 and was later rebuilt in opulent 19th-century style. After being bombed in World War II and neglected throughout the Soviet era, the 1,700-seat auditorium had fallen into disrepair by 2005, when inspectors found the stage was on the verge of collapse and the Bolshoi was finally closed for renovations.

In the beginning of 2011, Gerriets was commissioned by the Bosch Rexroth Group (general contractor for the Bolshoi's new stage machinery systems) to provide motorized stage machinery for the theater's main curtain and eight legs.

For the main curtain, Bosch Rexroth ordered specialized FENCE curtain machinery. Gerriets engineered a heavy-duty system comprised of a 27.50-meter-long truss housing 8 winches connected to FENCE curtain machinery by dual sets of steel bands at each lifting point. With a total weight of 3,000 kilograms and maximum load capacity of 1,000 kilograms, the system raises and lowers the curtain machinery 18.50 meters and operates at a maximum speed of 0.3 meters per second. This adds an essential element of versatility, enabling stage crews to quickly and easily lower the entire system and switch the opening style of the curtain from traveler (bi-parting in the middle and opening horizontally) to tab (lifting diagonally to create two large swags).

When used for a traveler opening style, the system provides a curtain opening of approximately 24.0 meters, with a maximum opening speed of 3 meter per second. As a tab curtain, the system delivers a lifting height of 12.0 meters with a maximum speed of 1.5 meters per second. Whichever look is required, the system gets the job done in about 8 seconds!

For the eight legs, Gerriets fabricated the drapery itself (black Trevira CS velour, each 3 meters wide x 23.60 meters high) and engineered eight individual, motorized STRATUS systems whereby each leg can be independently raised, lowered, and pivoted 180°.

On October 28, 2011, the new Bolshoi made its debut to the world, restored to its 19th-century grandeur and modernized with 21st-century amenities befitting a theater of its stature. Gerriets is proud to have played a role in "raising the curtain" on this magnificent comeback.