Better known in the west as the Kirov Ballet (the name it received during the Soviet era), this historic theater recently returned to its original designation (which honored Alexander II's wife Maria). The Mariinsky was built in 1860 as an opera house, but its reputation rests largely on the ballet that was added to its repetoire two decades later.
The apex of its fame was during the earliest days of modern ballet, just after the turn of the century. In fact, the choreographer of the Mariinsky at the time, Michel Fokine (1880-1942) is widely considered to have been the founder of modern ballet. Fokine's choreography marked a departure from many of the rigid rules and forms of the earlier tradition and inaugurated the freer styles of expressionism. Fokine was the choreographer for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets-Russe from 1909-14, and several of the Mariinsky's finest dancers were also members of Diaghilev's company.
The most prominent of these included Vasily Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Tamara Karsarvina. During the Cold War era, the Mariinsky (then known as the Kirov) maintained its traditions despite numerous difficulties, including the defection of a number of its finest dancers--Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and Mikhail Baryshnikov--to the West. Almost all of the Mariinsky's finest dancers were trained at St. Petersburg's Vaganova School of Choreography, still the world's premier ballet school in the classical tradition. Catching a performance at the Mariinsky is an integral part of any visit to St. Petersburg, and tickets are best obtained as far in advance as possible.
1, Teatralnaya Square
St Petersburg, 190000
All over St. Petersburg, you can see billboard signs advertising various concerts and performances to go to. The first day in St. Petersburg, I saw this poster for Dio, which is one of my husband's favorite heavy metal bands. It made me feel at home to see it!
The history of the Mariinsky Ballet Company dates from 1783, when the Bolshoi Theatre was opened on the site now occupied by the Conservatoire.
In the eighteenth century, Carousel Square was built in the Second Admiralteisky district of St Petersburg. It derived its name from the theatricalised horse shows held there - the favourite amusement of court society. Fêtes with dancing and music were also held on the square, while an unpretentious wooden structure was used for dramas and performances of the Italian opera company, in which pupils of the St Petersburg Dance School took part.
I couldn't believe how many cinemas there were in St Petersburg. Some theatres even show movies in English. While I was there, the two most popular films where Harry Potter and Monsters Inc. I watched some TV in the hotel, it just made me crack up laughing. They were showing West Side story. It was not even properly dubbed, while they were singing, in Russian someone was translating on top of the singing. This is the common thing on TV.
The Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev is probably the most acclaimed conductor in the world, and his theatre has done more than any other theatre in Russia to show that the transition from command economy to market economy is possible.
Here are some more concerts and performances that were going on during the time I was in St. Petersburg.
The St. Petersburg Male Choir is what makes night exciting for the one of mine. They are very good with the Aria and yes.