The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Львівський Державний академічний театр опери та балету імені Соломії Крушельницької) is an opera house and theatre located in Lviv, Ukraine. The building was built between 1897 and 1900. The Lwów Opera was originally called the Grand Theatre (Великий міський театр) until it was renamed in 1939 by the Soviet authorities. At the end of the 19th century, Lviv felt the need for a large city theatre.
In 1895, the city announced an architectural competition for the best design, which attracted a large number of projects. An independent jury unhesitatingly chose the design by Zygmunt Gorgolewski, a graduate of the Berlin Building Academy and the Director of the Lwów higher art-industrial school. Gorgolewski pleasantly surprised the jury by planning to locate the building in the centre of the city, although it was already densely built-up. In order to solve the space problem, he boldly proposed to enclose the Poltva River underground, and instead of using a traditional foundation, use a solid concrete base for the first time in Europe.
In June 1897, the first stone was placed. Gorgolewski directed construction, earthwork and decorating tasks, employing the leading masters from Lviv and abroad. Local materials were used for the construction. Marble elements were manufactured in Vienna, whereas Belgium provided special linen for painting the foyer. The Austrian company "Siemens" was responsible for assembling the electric lights, while the hydraulic mechanization of the stage was built by the Polish railway workshop company in Sanok. Construction continued for three years. Funding came from Lviv, the surrounding communities, and from voluntary donations. The cost of the works totaled 6 million Austrian crowns.
There are stories told that despite the engineering innovations used by Gorgolewski to construct the foundation of the building, it began to slowly sink because of the Poltva river running underneath it in a tunnel. Learning of the flaw, the architect took it to heart and fell into depression. In the end, in the story, he hanged himself 3 years after the construction was finished (not borne out by facts − he died of heart disease). Shortly afterwards, the building stopped sinking and remains stable nowadays.