The Mariinsky T
heatre is a historic theatre of opera and
ballet in Saint-Petersburg. Opened in 1860, it became the
preeminent music theatre of late 19th century Russia, where
many of the stage masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky,
and Rimsky-Korsakov received their premieres. The Mariinsky
Theatre is home to the Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Opera and
Mariinsky Orchestra. Since Yuri Temirkanov's retirement in
1988, the conductor Valery Gergiev has served as its general
The Imperial opera and ballet theatre in Saint Petersburg
was established in 1783 at the behest of Catherine the Great,
although an Italian ballet troupe had performed at the
Russian court since the early 18th century. Originally, the
ballet and opera performances were given in the wooden Karl
Knipper Theatre on Tsaritsa Meadow, near the present-day
Tripartite Bridge (also known as the Little Theatre or the
Maly Theatre). The Hermitage Theatre, next door to the
Winter Palace, was used to host performances for an elite
audience of aristocratic guests invited by the Empress.
A permanent theatre building for the new company of opera
and ballet artists was designed by Antonio Rinaldi and
opened in 1783. Known as the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny
Theatre the structure was situated on Theatre Square. Both
names were coined to distinguish it from the wooden Little
Theatre: "Kamenny" is the Russian word for "stone" and "Bolshoi"
is the Russian word for "big". In 1836, the Bolshoi Kamenny
Theatre was renovated to a design by Albert Cavos (son of
Catterino Cavos, an opera composer), and served as the
principal theatre of the Imperial Ballet and opera.
The Alexandrinsky Theatre rivals the Fyodor Volkov Theatre
in Yaroslavl as the oldest Russian national theatre.
It was founded on 30 August 1756 by a Senate decree
signed by Elizabeth of Russia to play Fonvizin, Lukin,
Racine, Molière, Beaumarchais, Voltaire, and Derzhavin.
Since 1832, the theatre has occupied an Empire-style
building that Carlo Rossi designed. It was built in
1828-1832 on Alexandrinsky Square (now Ostrovsky Square),
which is situated on Nevsky Prospekt between the Russian
State Library and Anichkov Palace. The theatre and the
square were named after Empress consort Alexandra Feodorovna.
The building is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre of Saint-Petersburg
and Related Groups of Monuments.
The premières of numerous Russian plays have been performed
at the stage of the Alexandrinsky, including plays by
Alexandr Griboyedov, Aleksandr Ostrovsky, and Anton Chekhov.
Famous directors who have staged work there include Vsevolod
Meyerhold, Grigori Kozintsev, Georgy Tovstonogov, and
On 30 August 2006 the theatre reopened after reconstruction.
The Hermitage Theatre is one of five Hermitage buildings
lining the Palace Embankment of the Neva River.
The palatial theatre was built between 1783 and 1787 at the
behest of Catherine the Great to a Palladian design by
Giacomo Quarenghi. The crumbling Third Winter Palace of
Peter the Great was demolished to make room for the new
structure, although its old foundations are still visible in
the ground floor. Quarenghi's designs for the theatre were
engraved and published in 1787, earning him a European
Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, and Fyodor Chaliapin
were among the great artists who performed at the Hermitage
Theatre for the last Russian tsar. Among the ballets
performed there was the premiere of Marius Petipa's
Harlequinade, in 1900. The Bolsheviks closed the theatre and
utilised the building for administrative purposes. It was
not until 1991 that performances were resumed on this stage,
with the likes of Svyatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich
and Yelena Obraztsova appearing as guest stars.
Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater
Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater formerly known as Gorky
Bolshoi Drama Theater (1931–1992), often referred to as the
Bolshoi Drama Theater and by the acronym BDT, is a theater
in Saint-Petersburg, that is
considered one of the best Russian theaters. The theater is
named after its long time director Georgy Tovstonogov.
The theater is also encountered in literature as the Great
Drama Theater or Great Dramatic Theater of Leningrad.
Circus Ciniselli was the first stone-built circus in Russia;
it is situated beside the Fontanka in Saint Petersburg. The
building, which still stands, was opened on 26 December
1877, with a large stage (13 meters in diameter) and stables
(housing 150 horses). The architect was Vasily Kenel.
The Italian circus performer Gaetano Ciniselli (1815-81)
first visited Saint-Petersburg in
1847, as part of the troupe of Alessandro Guerra. He
returned to Russia in 1869, this time working with
Carl-Magnus Hinne, his brother-in-law, in his circuses in
Moscow and Saint-Petersbrug.
Ciniselli settled in Russia, and inherited Hinne's circuses
The Ciniselli family managed the circus until 1921, when
they emigrated. They would often lease the building to stage
high-profile entertainment events, such as the World
Wrestling Championship in 1898 and Max Reinhardt's
production of Oedipus Rex which featured Alexander Moissi in
1911. In 1918 Iury Iurev revived the play using the original
set. This was followed by the production of Macbeth
featuring Maria Andreeva and Fedor Chaliapin.
Two halls in the building house the first circus museum in
the world, opened in 1928 and boasting more than 80,000
exhibits as of 2002.