Photo of Mariinskiy theatre in Saint Petersburg

If you are traveling to Saint Petersburg and love opera or ballet, then you probably want to visit the Mariinsky Theatre, the oldest Russian musical theater located in Saint Petersburg. Having come to the performance, you will not only enjoy the play but also be able to admire the beautiful interiors of the historic building.


The building, which now houses the Mariinsky Theater, was designed by the Italian-Russian architect Albert Kavos and built in 1859-1860.

Although the first season of the Mariinsky Theater is considered to be 1783, when the Stone Theater opened at the place of the current conservatory, on the carousel square, at the behest of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (also called the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theater). Soon the area was renamed the Theater. The first performance, which took place here, was Giovanni Paisiello’s Lunar World opera. Kamenny Theater hosted opera and ballet performances.

The first performance in the Mariinsky building took place in 1860, it was Glinka’s opera “Life for the Tsar”, led by the orchestra and opera Konstantin Lyadov.

A large reconstruction of the building was carried out at the end of the 19th century under the guidance of the architect Viktor Aleksandrovich Schroether. At this time, there are new buildings, three-dimensional facade and the famous turret on the dome of the building. After these reconstructions, the Mariinsky Theater lost its grand appearance and ceased to look like a palace or castle, and acquired a businesslike appearance. Schroether also designed the auditorium, preserved until our time.

Masterpieces of the Russian classic opera such as “Ruslan and Lyudmila”, “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina” premiered on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater. Tchaikovsky’s ballets were staged and presented to the audience.

With the advent of Soviet power, the theater became known as the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, and in 1935 it was named after the revolutionary and statesman Sergei Mironovich Kirov. The directors widened repertoire with Soviet composers Prokofiev and Berg, as well as works by contemporary foreign composers.

The Mariinsky Theater re-gained its historical name in January of 1992. The theater conducts festival activities famous worldwide, for example: “Stars of the White Nights”, International Mariinsky Ballet Festival, Moscow Easter Festival.

New Building of Mariinskiy Theatre - 2, second stage

Second stage of Mariinskiy theater-2

The new building of the theater, called Mariinka-2 was the most ambitious project in the history of the theater that took 10 years to complete. The result was a concert hall of 80 thousand square meters that meet the latest standards; it was opened in 2013. Unlike the old scene of the Mariinsky Theater, every one of the 2,000 spectators sees the whole scene perfectly – there are no blind spots.

The architecture made a strong impression on the residents of St. Petersburg and critics. Most citizens did not approve of the building, believing that it did not fit into the architectural appearance of the city at all. It was called a monster, a shopping center, and even a barn.

At the same time, according to Jack Diamond, the author of the New Scene project, the townspeople do not immediately accept the changes because they like old Petersburg. Canadian architect believes that classical architecture does not convey the spirit of our time, and his plan was to have the modest Mariinsky-2 facade serve as the backdrop for the old building of the Mariinsky Theater.

According to Valery Gergiev, a new building of the Mariinsky Theater in a quarter of a century will be considered a valuable landmark of St. Petersburg, known for its good acoustics, sufficient production capabilities and a high level of comfort for the audience.

Tickets to performances are sold onsite and on the official website –


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