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The Temple of muses: The Mariinsky Theater for guests of the Northern Capital

The Mariinsky theater is one of the oldest and the best-known in Russia. The best opera singers and dancers of the ballet in the country won fame in this theatre and the Russian theater as we know it today arose exactly here. Almost each performance in Mariinsky theater collects the present notice. Not only guests from different corners of the country, but also the tourists wishing to plunge into art arrive to see the cult plays there.

The Mariinsky theater presented to the world such outstanding singers as Shalyapin, Medea and Finger, and not less outstanding ballet dancers as Matilda Kschessinskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and other great dancers who glorified the Russian ballet worldwide. Today each guest of the Northern Capital can visit this historical theater, see the best plays and the leading Russian actors, and even to be located in an imperial lodge!

How to get to the Mariinsky Theatre

It should be noted that the Mariinsky Theater is not only one concert building, but the whole complex of three constructions. The main and oldest building of the Mariinsky theatre is located on Theatre Square, and two branches are on Dekabristov Street, 34 (The second scene) and on Dekabristov Street, 37 (Concert hall / the Mariinsky theatre-3).

It is possible to reach this musical sanctuary of the city the next ways:

  • To reach to metro stations Gostiny Dvor or "Nevsky Avenue", and then to change on one of minibuses No. 169 or No. 180, or on buses No. 27, No. 3 and No. 22. It is necessary to leave at a stop "Theatre square".
  • To reach to the Spasskaya, Sadovaya or Sennaya Square metro stations, and then to change on one of minibuses at numbers No. 350, No. 186, No. 124 or No. 1.
  • To reach to St. Nicholas Church and to walk one stop.

By the way, the Mariinsky Theatre is beautiful not only from within, but also outside. Guests of the capital are always fascinated by the historical building and its picturesque vicinities!

Several words about the history of the Maryinsky Theatre

The beginning of history of the well-known theatre can be considered as 1783 when the empress Catherine the Great issued the decree approving the creation of theatrical committee. In total in half a year in St. Petersburg the first Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre was created. Karuselnaya Square at which he settled down was renamed into Theatrical in its honor. There were cult operas of those times in this theatre, and it always brought together many viewers. However, the building transferred badly such loadings and constantly demanded repairmen. In 1859 the theatre Circus which was near the Bolshoi Theatre burned down, and then the architect Alberto Cavos constructed a new one, more modern and spacious. This theater received the name "Mariinsky" in honor of the empress Maria Aleksandrovna ruling at that period.

For the first time the Mariinsky theatre opened the doors for the audience on October 2, 1860, and since then constantly collected a huge number of the audience. During the days of premieres huge turns gathered on the square. 9 more years later the chorus master of ballet troupe there was Marius Petipa, and he laid the foundation for new choreography at the Mariinsky Theater. That is exactly why we can now watch such exceptional plays as "La Bayadère", "The Sleeping Beauty", "The Nutcracker" and "Swan lake".

Interesting facts about the Mariinsky Theatre

The first representation and patriotic metamorphoses

The first representation was given in theatre on October 2, 1860. It was the opera by Glinka "A life for the Tsar". The performance remained in the repertoire of the theatre up to Soviet period, however for ideological reasons it was renamed into statement "Ivan Susanin". It is amusing that exactly this way Glinka himself wanted to call the work, but could not make it also for ideological reasons! The director of Imperial theatres decided that the opera needs more patriotic name, and all glory should not get only to the main character. Today the play still appears in the program of Mariinsky theatre, however under the original name "A life for the Tsar".

An imperial lodge with a secret

There is still an imperial lodge in the theatre. It was equipped especially for the royal dynasty and decorated with initials of the emperor and his beloved. Today anyone can watch a performance from an imperial box, however, the ticket will be in this case more expensive than on any other place, and it will be quite difficult to manage to redeem it, such places in an imperial lodge are bought up instantly. It is a surprising fact that there was a secret door which conducted on "the women's party", to make-up rooms of soloists of the ballet and it is rumoured that Nicholas II used this secret passage to visit his beloved Matilda Kschessinskaya.

Unsuccessful fate of the first theatre

Till 1859 the Theatre circus was in the place of the present Mariinsky Theater, but it had worked for only ten years before being burned down. The chandelier with oil lamps became a cause of the fire. Interesting fact is that both buildings had one architect - Alberto Cavos.

Theatrical chandelier as work of art

The three-storied chandelier hangs in the centre of the auditorium today. The titanic design weighs two and a half tons! The chandelier is decorated in 23 thousand crystal pendants, and 210 bulbs are responsible for lighting. Sketches of the painter Kozroye Duzi became a basis for creation of the central plafond: the plot of a plafond represents the cupids and nymphs who are turned in dance, and of 12 portraits of the greatest Russian playwrights surround this composition.

Bohemian bell of the Mariinsky theatre

In operas "Hovanshchina" and "Boris Godunov" the audience hears a rolling and deep bell-ringing, but the few guess that it is not high-quality record, but the most real bell sound. The matter is that offstage there is "an honourable actor" of Mariinsky theatre, it is a bell aged for more than two centuries. Initially it was hung in one of city churches, but during the fight against religion it was dumped from a head to Kryukov Canal. Only several years later the bell was taken out from water and presented to the theatre.

Crystal secret of an orchestra pit

For nearly one hundred years the orchestra pit was located under a proscenium, and only in the 70th of the last century hydraulic elevators were installed to lift and lower the pit's floor. The builders found a thick layer of a crystal cullet under an orchestra pit during the installation time of mechanisms and just removed it with shovels, without going into details of purpose of this strange "underground". The sense of a crystal substrate was opened already during the first performance when the habitual theatre began to sound deafly and even insipid. It appeared that architects used crystal as the additional resonator to improve acoustic characteristics of the hall.

Maria Aleksandrovna is a muse of the theatre

The Mariinsky Theatre is obliged by the name to Alexander II's spouse, to Maria Aleksandrovna. Her image is immortalized in the curtain of the theatre which became its emblem. The drapery and an ornament of a curtain completely repeat a decor of a loop of Maria.

A burro in love and the broken play

During the period since the end of the seventieth and prior to the beginning of the eightieth the real animals - a horse and a burro - that were used as transport by the main characters participated in statement Don Quixote. The trained animals grandly walked on stage and won back the role without incident until once the horse got sick. The theatre had to rent quickly an animal in one of sports horse sections, and in a hurry nobody paid attention that instead of a horse took a mare. The mare fascinated her "workmate" in the play, and the burro was smitten with love for it directly on the stage, having embarrassed all troupe. The performance had to be cancelled, and the audience left the building in deep amazement.

Scene of action – Golovin’s studio

Surprisingly, but the theatrical studio sometimes did not concede on intensity of emotions to the most revolutionary plays, and even a grandiose scandal burst once in it. The poet Nikolai Gumiljow was in love with the St. Petersburg poetess Elizabeth Dmitriyeva, and once decided to make her an avowal of sentiments. The creator in love was refused as Elizabeth was affianced, and decided to revenge the girl. Gumiljow began to spread rumours about her torrid love affair, and her friend Maksimilian Voloshin stood up for the poetess. In Golovin's studio in the face of the whole crowd of people Voloshin gave to Gumiljow a slap in the face and challenged him to a duel. The duel took place, but, fortunately, Gumiljow missed, and Voloshin's gun misfired. Both duellists were not traumatized, but an incident was remembered by the public for a long time.

International creative cooperation

The Mariinsky Theatre cooperates with the most known opera theatres of the world – Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Bastille, La Scala and many others. Thanks to it many masterpieces of the foreign opera became available to the audience and in original language!

Bonus: The secret from the regular audience of the theatre

As true theatre's lovers say, the best place to listen to the opera is from the third tier, there is the best acoustics. And for those who are in love with ballet it is best to choose the mezzanine. The intricate pattern of the dance is perfectly visible from that level.


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