Excursions across Saint-Petersburg: theaters
Everybody, who comes in St. Petersburg, seeks to go to a play in a local theater – long since the city is famous both for its theatrical performances, and the school of ballet, which is considered one of the best in the world. The whole world has always admired the art of the famous and outstanding Petersburg dancers – Rudolf Nureev, Natalie Makarova, Michael Barishnikov. The Mariinsky theater is considered the most famous nowadays. Originally operatic, ballet and dramatic companies acted in the Kamenny theater, situated in front, which has become the Conservatoire. In the middle of the 19th century operatic and ballet companies were transferred into the building of the theater-circle, erected by A. Kavoso in place of the present building of “Mariinka” in 1847.
In 1860 the theater was named Mariinsky in honor of the wife of Alexander II. In 1883-1896 architecture V. Shreter decorated it according to the emperor’s status. Only the Paris grand-opera can compete with the Mariinsky theater in the size in stage. Here one can hear such masterpieces of world operatic art as “Iolanta”, “Queen of spades” by P. Chaikovsky, “Prince Igor” by A. Borodin and many others. And here were sounded the rarest operatic voices of F. Shalyapin, I. Ershov, L. Sobinov. At their time here were used grandiose decorations, executed by such famous authors as A. Benua, O. Golovin, K. Korovin. On the theater gained world fame such ballet-dancers as M. Kseshinskaya, O. Preobrazhenskaya, A. Pavlova and others. From here began the triumphal train over the world such famous operas as “The Swan lake”, “Nutcracker”, Sleeping Beauty” by P. Chaikovsky. With the Elexandriysky (or to be precise, the Academic theater by A. S. Pushkin) theatre are bound up names of V. Komissarzhevskaya and V. Meierhold. Here take places plays of Russian and foreign classics, and recently – ballet performances with the participation of modern ballet stars.
The building of the theater is placed in Ostrovsky square near Nevsky avenue. It was called in honor of the wife of Alexander I, Alexandra Fedorovna and was erected by government decree at the beginning of the 19th century. Patriotic drama by M. Krikovsky “Prince Pozharsky”, which was played by the first company, assembled by playwright Sumarkov, is the first performance. At that time repertoire of the theater consisted of modern translated melodramas, vaudevilles and plays. Gradually the repertoire was replenished with the best works of such Russian writers as N. Gogol, L. Tolstoy, A. Pushkin. The Academic theater of opera and ballet by M. P. Musorgsky, built in 1833 and having another name – the Maliy theater of opera and ballet – is situated in square of arts, not far from the Russian museum. This theater is famous for its grandiose ballet performances. In principle the repertoire of its companies doesn’t differ from the “Mariinka”. Here are staged classics: “Don Juan” by V. –A. Motzart, “Hovanshchina” by M. P. Musorgsky, “Iolanta” by P. I. Chaikovsky, “Otello” and “Traviata” by J. Verdi and other works.
The theater was opened on November, 1833; ballet “Cupid in the village” and vaudeville of P. Karatigin “Familiar strangers” were the first performances. Subsequent fate of this establishment is interesting. It is known, for example, that in soviet times the theater became a branch of the Mariinka, and in 1920 it became the theater of comic opera, after which received the present name. By the way, long before this the establishment was called the Michaolovsky theater of opera and ballet of St. Petersburg conservatoire by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, situated near the Mariinsky theater. Originally in the building of this establishment was situated the most considerable theater – Bolshoi. It was erected in the 18th century; grand opening of the theater was carried out on September, 24, 1783. And already in the 19th century it was rebuilt into the Conservatoire. The last performance was staged in 1886 before the ballet company’s moving to the present building of the Mariinsky theater. Here, like in the “Mariinka” are staged plays of classical repertoires.