Bishkek Opera and Ballet Theatre
Like most of the former Soviet Union, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan has a strong presence of fine and performing arts – Drama and Painting and Opera and Ballet, among others. Though I had visited the Kyrygz Philharmonic Concert Hall a number of times, up until recently I had never made my way to the other side of the city center and the Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theater.
Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Sovietskaya/Adrahmanov #167 (just north of the intersection with Chuy)
The season generally runs from September through May or thereabouts.
Attempting to rectify this obvious omission in my experience with the cultural opportunities that Bishkek provides, we finally visited several times over the past few weeks for sample of both the Opera and Ballet offerings.
Walking past the Theater itself, the depth of the National Company for both arts and their repertoire is fairly obvious. Each week, hand-painted signs out front of the theater rotate depending on which shows will be coming up soon. We chose two international favorites – the ballet Giselle and the opera Carmen – but there are local offerings to be seen as well. According to one source, there are around 200 pieces in the company’s range without even considering touring shows from Russia and beyond that stop through the city.
Shows are perhaps not flawless, but are certainly worthwhile. It seems to depend largely on the principals in any given performance, and from the two shows we’ve seen so far Giselle was great while Carmen was good. Note that the opera was in Russian – potentially worth considering whether the ballet might therefore make a better choice if you don’t speak the language.
Even for backpackers and budget travelers, the Bishkek Opera and Ballet Theater is still incredibly accessible. The most expensive tickets for the local company run around 250 Som – $5. Prices for touring companies are generally more, but still well with reach of even the penny-pinching-iest traveler! Ticket can be purchased from the касса just inside the main door of the Theater, open during business hours during the week and generally just before performances as well.
If you’re in Kyrgyzstan as a tourist, the Hostel Inn is one of the closest cheap accommodation choices to the Bishkek Opera and Ballet Theater. Check them out – they’re also one of the cheapest city center accommodation options I know of. If you’re looking more upmarket, the Hyatt is just next door.