Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
The theatre built at the request of magnate Daniel Mailov and funded by magnate Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. In 1910, famous Russian soprano Antonina Nezhdanova visited Baku giving several concerts at various clubs and performance venues. On a ball organized on the occasion of Nezhdanova’s departure at the local casino. She asked whether she would like to visit Baku again. Her response was negative. She said,that in a city of so many wealthy people no one would fund the construction of a decent opera theatre where singers could fully demonstrate their musical talent. Daniel Mailov who had grown to admire both Nezhdanova’s voice and persona during her tour. And decided to use this opportunity and offered her to revisit Baku in one year to attend the opening of a new opera theatre. Then he would order to build in her honour. According to an urban legend, Mailov and his brother not invited to a housewarming ball of a famous opera singer from Baku. His new house was one of the most outstanding pieces of architecture in the city. The Mailovs therefore decided to erect a building of their own outdoing the “tactless” singer.
Architect of Building
The Russian architect and civil engineer of Armenian descent Nikolai Bayev designed the architectural sketch of the theatre. However the construction of such grandiose building in a year unheard of at the time and required many safety measures taken. The Mailovs decided not to wait for the approval of the City Council but ordered to stop the construction as it violated building regulations. Soon Bayev managed to convince the city legislature and received its approval. Azerbaijani magnate Zeynalabdin Taghiyev who had earlier sponsored the construction of the Taghiyev Theatre expressed his doubts that the new theatre fully constructed in such a short period of time. Daniel Mailov laid a bet: if the Mailovs did not manage to get the theatre built on time, they would offer it to Taghiyev as a gift; if the theatre indeed built by 1911, Taghiyev would have to cover all the building expenses.
Azerbaijani Opera Troupe
Playbill of Leyli and Majnun opera by Uzeyir Hajibeyov. Spectacle of Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.
The three-shift work at the site involving 200 workers ensured speedy construction of the building. All works completed in less than 10 months. The total costs for construction exceeded 250,000 rubles. The city mayor Peter Martynov accompanied by architects and engineers examined the newly built theatre and confirmed its safety. As promised, Taghiyev paid all the expenses. The official opening of the Mailyovs’ Theatre scheduled on 28 February 1911. Daniel Mailov notified Nezhdanova of the ceremony by telegramme beforehand, and the renowned soprano became the first singer to perform at the new opera house. Most of Baku’s multiethnic elite attended the event; among the ones not present was the opera singer who had not invited the Mailovs to his housewarming ball.