Everyone has heard a lot about the Russian ballet, and it is so pleasant to realize that we, Russians are a part of this heritage. The school of the Russian Ballet is appreciated around the world. There are 4 imperial theaters which exist in St.Petersburg: Maryinsky, Hermitage Theatre, Aleksandrinsky, Mikhaylovsky.
The Hermitage Theatre is the oldest theater in St. Petersburg. It was founded in 1783 by order of the empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great). It is very small and cozy. Theaters like this used to be called intimate theaters. Twice a month diplomats and people of the royal court would be invited to see a performance. During other days the audience would be even more intimate – maximum 10-12 spectators. Getting into the bridge heading to the entrance of the Theater, to the left of you there is the Old Hermitage with paintings by mannerists, and on the right side one can see Raphael’s Loggias. The architect Giacomo Quarenghi had to build the floor of the house in the shape of an amphitheater. It came with the purpose that ladies could have a close look at each other’s jewelry and dresses The entrance to the theater used to be from inside of the Hermitage museum. It means that if one was invited they were supposed to be a part of the court or be diplomats.
Naturally, at all of the performances there were members of the imperial family. That’s how it all was till the revolution of 1917. Catherine the Great for whom this theater was built herself had a great creativity talent. She herself never performed on the stage but was an outstanding producer if I may say so. Catherine even had her own newspaper, as you understand she was the editor. This newspaper was called “A little bit of everything”. Today the Hermitage Theater is standing on another interesting sightseeing point: The Old Winter Palace of Peter the Great. The Hermitage Theater is connected with other Hermitage buildings with the so called Bridge of Sighs like in Venice.
Next theater I would talk about is called Maryinsky Theater. It stands on the Theatre Square where everything has something to do with theatrical activity: ballet schools, cafes and restaurants, names of streets, monuments. Conductors, actors, ballerinas, they all live in its vicinities. The old stage of the Maryinsky Theater is called “Old” because one still can see there preserved imperial boxes and the stage has seen all magic artists of Imperial Saint Petersburg. One can imagine how carriages would approach its main entrance and ladies wearing fancy dresses and shiny jewelry would get off elegantly holding hand of their page boy. The stage of this theater remembers Anna Pavlova, Václav Nizhinsky, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Tamara Karsavina, Rudolf Nureev. Newly built New Stage differs in modernism, it was criticized that it does not fit into historical theatrical ensemble at all but time passed by and everyone got used to it. Modern stage, comfortable seats, amazing acoustics. Beautifully decorated foyer.
Alexandrinsky Theatre is called like that in honor of the empress Aleksandra Fiodorovna, emperor Nicholas I’s spouse. The oldest national drama theater. The troupe of the theater originates from Volkov’s troupe founded by the empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Awesome historical stage.
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