History, description and detailed plan of the Mariinsky Theatre
Today, like more than two hundred years ago, the Mariinsky Theater’s playbill impresses with the diversity of its repertoire.
The theater is deservedly considered one of the oldest in Russia and thanks to the high level of training of its opera singers and choreographic troupe is known throughout the world.
Visitors to the northern capital, seeking to join the world of art, should know in advance where the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. The main building is located on Teatralnaya Square, but opera and ballet lovers can also visit branches of the Mariinka (so the theater is called by the people). The address is:
- Second Stage (Mariinka-2): 34 Dekabristov St;
- Concert Hall (Mariinka-3): 37 Dekabristov St;
- The Mariinsky Theatre: Vladivostok, 20 Fastovskaya St.
Interesting facts about the Mariinsky Theatre
Although the building opened to the public in 1860 with the premiere of the famous opera A Life for the Tsar, the official date of birth of the Mariinsky Theatre is the late 18th century. In October 1783 the Bolshoi Theatre, built by the personal order of Catherine and designed by the famous Italian architect Rinaldi, was inaugurated. It often played host to Italian and French operas, as well as vocal concerts and musical evenings.
In the 19th century, most performances were held on the stage of the Circus Theatre, which was built opposite the Bolshoi Theatre and almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1859. At the same time, work began on the construction of the new Imperial Theatre, which became a real architectural ornament of the city. They were headed by a talented Italian architect Alberto Cavosa.
Most visitors wonder who the Mariinsky Theater is named after. The sonorous name was given to it in honor of the wife of the Russian monarch Maria. The wife of the then ruler Alexander II had a reputation as a true patroness of the fine arts. So the first performers at the Mariinsky Theatre were the singers and choreographers of her personal company.
The interior of the theater
The Mariinka building is interesting not only for its unusual semicircular shape, but also for its interior furnishings. When attending a performance, the following attractions are worth paying attention to:
The Tsar’s Box. It is one of the largest and most pompous in the building. Once it was adorned with a monogram, in which the first letters of the names of Tsar Alexander II and his wife were pictorially combined. During Soviet times it was replaced by the emblem of hammer and sickle, but in the 1990s the original decoration was restored. Nowadays ordinary people can buy tickets for the lodge on the official website of the Mariinsky Theater, located in the center of St. Petersburg, unless seats are reserved for diplomats and members of the government. The cost of tickets to the royal box is 4100-4400 rubles. In the wall of the box you can notice a secret door backstage, which leads directly to the dressing rooms of the artists, to the “female part” of the theater. According to legend, Russian tsars visited their beloved ballerinas incognito this way.
Orchestra pit with raising and lowering floor. For this purpose, hydraulic elevators were built into it. During the restoration of the building, a layer of shards of broken crystal glassware was discovered under the floor covering. It turned out that more than 200 years ago the architects had used them to improve the acoustics of the room.
The Alexander Golovin Hall, built directly under the roof of the theater, is named after the outstanding Russian painter of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Nowadays most of the sceneries for operas and ballets are created here. Many of them can be safely called masterpieces of fine art. An armchair with a portrait painted by the artist on the brush of his colleague Yakovlev is still preserved in the room. This painting can be seen in the foyer of the 3rd tier.
The room is famous for the fact that it was there that Golovin painted his famous painting, in which the brilliant Chaliapin is depicted as the usurper Godunov from the opera of the same name. Here the famous Russian poets Voloshin and Gumilev had a quarrel, and it came to bloodshed and a duel.
Curtain. Its author is the same Golovin, who made it amazingly skillfully in the 1910s. It is considered a symbol of the Mariinsky Theatre and combines traditional painting techniques with applications that reproduce precisely the tracery of one of Empress Maria’s ceremonial garments.
A three-tier chandelier made of bronze that illuminates the auditorium. Its weight is more than 2 tons. It contains more than 200 light bulbs which give a brilliant light thanks to more than 2000 crystal pendants. The latter decorate all the tiers of the chandelier, and the plafond is painted with images of merry nymphs and cupids, as well as portraits of famous Russian playwrights of the past centuries.
Bell, “dwelling” in the theater for more than 200 years. It is used in the operas Khovanshchina and Boris Godunov. According to legend, immediately after the revolution it was removed from one of the churches and thrown into the Neva. From there it was retrieved shortly before the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War and presented to the Mariinsky Theatre.
Mariinsky Theatre repertoire
The Mariinsky Theater’s 2017 schedule will delight art lovers with a variety of opera and ballet productions. Some of them have been on stage for decades, while others are designed for lovers of novelties in the field of beauty. The Mariinsky’s repertoire in recent years has included the following performances:
- “The Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia. This mystical tale of love for the homeland and the tender feelings of a prince and a simple girl has been given a completely new meaning in the staging of this production. From an Old Slavonic legend, the opera moves quite organically into our contemporary reality, with homeless people and the characters’ typical twenty-first-century clothing. Rather flamboyant are the men imitating beasts, insects instead of dashing Tatar invaders, and today’s bums in the role of 13th century beggars.
- “Swan Lake. The theater’s main stage has become the setting for the beautiful love story between Prince Siegfried and the enchanted swan princess a thousand times, which has never lost its charm. The ballet to the immortal music of Tchaikovsky is a classical choreographic production based on the ideas of the famous choreographer Marius Petipa.
- “Music is pleasant and unpleasant.” In this purely instrumental concert you will hear both melodic and touching as well as unusual and rather extravagant music performed by talented violinists, pianists, clarinetists, cellists and flutists.
- “Carmen.” In the new version of the opera we hear all the same famous opera roles, but the action is somewhat modernized, and evokes more associations with our reality. The use of a large number of staircases as scenery was a particular find of the director. According to his version, they symbolize the desire of the human soul for something sublime and divine.
- “Salome.” This is one of the most anticipated productions of the New Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. The Biblical story of Herod’s beautiful stepdaughter who demands the prophet’s head on a platter becomes a battle of global ideas on which human society is based: egoism and altruism. The opera is enhanced by modern videography.
- “Jenůfa. The story of a single, pregnant girl who has been abandoned by her lover is as old as time; but the Mariinsky Theatre’s dancers have succeeded in giving it a new meaning. In the complicated family twists and turns of this opera, many of the audience will recognize what happened to them or their acquaintances.
- “Giselle.” The feelings of the young heroine, deceived by her lover and died suddenly, is unlikely to leave fans of the ballet indifferent. Incredibly beautiful dancing of the characters reflecting the whole range of human emotions, will be a real gift for true aesthetes.
Scheme of the theater with indication of seats
Download a detailed diagram of the Mariinsky Theatre
How to get into the theater
Nearly all Mariinsky Theatre performances in St. Petersburg gather a full house, so it is worth buying tickets in advance. You don’t need to go to the box office to do this: you can order almost any seat online. The theater has a season ticket system. You can, for example, buy a pass for all performances of music by Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev, productions by Shchedrin, or even become a season ticket holder for a family show which includes performances for children. Subscriptions are valid for the entire season, and their prices are reviewed each year.
If you are planning to go to the opera for the first time, buy tickets for the Mariinsky Theatre on the third tier, where the voices of the singers are much better received. Ballets, on the other hand, are better viewed from the mezzanine, where you can clearly understand all the nuances of the complex pas.
On average, the price of tickets for an opera or ballet in the main building of the theater is:
- 350-1000 RUB for a seat on the 3rd tier;
- 1,500-2,000 for a seat on the second tier;
- 1700-2500 RUB for a place on the 1st tier;
- 2000-3000 RUB for a seat on the mezzanine;
- 2800-3400 RUB for a seat in the Parterre.
The box-office of the theater is opened from 11.00 to 18.30 (in the Concert Hall – to 19.00).
How to Get There
There are the following ways to get to the temple of muses in St. Petersburg:
- From metro stations “Gostiny Dvor” or “Nevsky Prospekt” by taxi № 169 and 180, as well as by bus routes № 27, 22, 3.
- From Spasskaya, Sennaya Ploshchad, or Sadovaya metro stations take shuttles # 350, 186, 124, and 1.
- Walk from St. Nicholas Church one stop to the theater.
Mariinsky Theatre performances are a great opportunity to join the world of high art and expand your horizons.
The ticket offices are open daily from 11:00 to 19:00. In the Mariinsky 2 and Concert Hall there are breaks from 14:00 to 15:00.
The Mariinsky Theater is both a cultural site and a landmark, and its performances are sought after not only by travelers from Russian cities, but also by foreign tourists during their visit to St. Petersburg. The date of the foundation of the theater is 1783, at first performances were staged in the Bolshoi Theater. Over time, the theater had another building and a name, the Mariinsky Theater, it was named in honor of the wife of Alexander II – Maria Alexandrovna.
The theater had many glorious periods, with it cooperated truly talented people. The best opera voices of the time – Leonid Sobinov, Fyodor Chaliapin, Maria Slavina – danced on the stage; the ballet troupe included Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and other famous dancers.
Today the Mariinsky Theatre is developing apace, striving to update its repertoire and develop new formats for working with audiences.
Mariinsky Theatre Playbill
The Mariinsky Theatre’s repertoire is diverse, featuring both productions that are already to many people’s liking and new ones. The theater collaborates with renowned international theaters, and this work results in joint productions. Art lovers can visit the opera, enjoy ballet performances, buy tickets for musical concerts and lectures on the topic of culture and art. There are also productions geared toward younger audiences. A special program is being prepared for New Year’s holidays and anniversaries.
The stage of the Mariinsky Theatre is a venue for international festivals – Flute Virtuosi, Faces of Modern Pianism, the Organ Festival – and other significant events. The theater implements a project called “Open Wednesday,” the meaning of which is that every Wednesday afternoon there are free musical concerts. Visitors have the opportunity to hear composers of various musical genres and eras performed by the theater’s orchestra members and young instrumentalists. Tickets are issued directly at the entrance to the theater, but it should be borne in mind that the number of spectators is limited – the hall can seat only 170 people.
The troupe includes many experienced vocalists who honor the traditions of the theater, but there are also young talented artists who bring a lot of creative energy to the process. A significant place in the theater’s repertoire is taken by productions based on musical works by domestic prominent composers – in particular, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev. The repertoire includes operas Boris Godunov, The Tsar’s Bride, Eugene Onegin, and The Nightingale.
Operas are staged on the basis of foreign classics – Mozart, Berlioz, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss and other famous composers. On the stage of the theater you can hear the operas “Aida”, “Don Carlos”, “Macbeth”, “Benvenuto Cellini”, “The Love Drink”. The works are usually performed in their original language. Some performances for the convenience of the audience are accompanied by simultaneous captions in different languages. The theater management will also pay attention to the operas by modern composers.
Opera is a fairly complex genre which will be difficult for an untrained audience to understand. That is why the repertoire includes small operas – mono-opera and one-act operas – that allow the audience to get acquainted with interesting works. There are also small operas for children, using themes and techniques that they can understand in order to convey the timeless truths of the productions.
European choreography had a significant influence on the ballet of the theater. Choreographers from Italy and France were busy training dancers who could perform in their productions. The successful period in the ballet company’s work is associated with the name of Marius Petipa, who was a dancer and choreographer at the theater. Having achieved much in this field, he continued his work as Principal Ballet Master. Ballets like “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Raymonda” staged by him can still be seen on the billboard and are enjoyed by many admirers of choreography.
Giselle, The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, The Corsair, Romeo and Juliet are the centerpiece of the repertoire. In addition to productions of classic masterpieces, the Mariinsky Theatre also shows the best examples of work by contemporary foreign choreographers and introduces performances by promising young choreographers.
Mariinsky Theatre in 2022
The theater is constantly evolving, expanding its repertoire and inventing new formats for working with audiences. It has several stages, each with its own role. The theater also includes the Primorskaya stage, located in Vladivostok, a branch in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania (Vladikavkaz).
The historical first stage is still the main stage for the theater. It is located at Teatralnaya Square, d. 1, the building was built in 1860, since then it has undergone several reconstructions. On this stage the audience can see a significant part of the repertoire.
The stage curtain is one of the symbols of the theater, it was created by the artist Alexander Golovin. Its peculiarity is that it is made in painting and applique techniques and duplicates the pattern of the plume of Empress Maria Alexandrovna (wife of Alexander II).
Mariinsky Theatre Hall on Google Panoramas
The concert hall at 20 Pisareva Street was opened at the end of 2006. The building had long been used as a set studio for the theater. After a devastating fire in the early 2000s it was decided to build a concert hall in its place. The construction managed to save part of the facade, which was not destroyed by fire. The theater and concert complex has ultramodern equipment.
Concerts of foreign symphony orchestras, famous instrumentalists and opera soloists are held on the stage of the hall, conductor Christian Thielemann, singer Anna Netrebko, pianist Denis Matsuev, singer Sergei Leiferkus and other recognized performers have performed here. The concert hall is a venue for various festivals, and exhibitions of paintings are also held there.
The new theater building was opened in 2013, its address is 34 Dekabristov St. Although the architecture of the new building has caused a lot of negative feedback, inside everything has been designed in accordance with all modern requirements – from the auditorium to the dressing room. The auditorium can seat up to 2,000 people and has been designed with the best possible acoustics, visibility and audience comfort in mind. The stage consists of the main, rehearsal and rear stages. Much space is set aside for rehearsal rooms for troupe artists.
The building has an open terrace, which offers a wonderful view of the city. It is available in the summertime and can be visited one hour before the start of the performance. Opera and ballet productions are staged on the stage. In addition to the auditorium, chamber halls are used, designed for a small circle of listeners. Here concerts, lectures and film screenings are held.
Tickets to the Mariinsky Theatre
Buy tickets for interesting productions and concerts in advance – the cheapest tickets are purchased in the first place, the rest can have a fairly high price. The cost of tickets depends on the production; there are quite affordable tickets, but there are events that not everyone can afford to visit.
To find out the prices of tickets to the Mariinsky Theatre, visit the institution’s website.
How to get there
All the buildings of the theater are located in close proximity to each other. Nearby is the Mariinsky Theatre stop. If you are going to the production on the main stage, it will also be convenient to get off at the Teatralnaya Square stop, many public transport routes pass here.
You can also get to the theater by subway, but keep in mind that the nearest station “Sadovaya” is about 1.5 km from the place. You can walk to the theater on foot or change to ground transport and go to the stops listed above. From the subway you can take buses number 50, 71, route cabs number 1 and 169.
It is also easy to get to the Mariinsky Theatre using cab booking apps: Yandex.Taxi, Maxim, Gett, Uber and others.