The Hermitage Theater

The Hermitage Theater

Plan of auditorium

The Hermitage Theater is undoubtedly a unique monument of architecture. Suffice it to say that in the whole Europe there are only three theatres of this kind dating back to Fêtes galantes of the 18th century. It was built in 1782 by Giacomo Quarenghi as a private theater for Catherine the Great.

Right after its inauguration, the theater began a busy life with new productions coming one after another. Internationally renowned celebrities whom any theater was seeking to contract were invited by the Empress to perform here. The best Italian, French, German and Russian theater troupes performed on this stage for the Russian Royal family and courtiers. The Hermitage Theater became a real school of Russian theatrical art where pieces of scenery were made by outstanding artists Alexander Benois, Léon Bakst, Konstantin Somov and Alexander Golovin. Their sceneries still remain to be unrivalled works of painting art.

The high status of the Hermitage Theater today is clearly seen from the list of events held here recently. Among them is the festival Paganini Violin at the Hermitage where the famous Russian musician Sergey Stadler played Niccolo Paganini’s violin which was specially delivered from Genoa. The festival The Return of a Legend was held here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jean Sibelius. In 1995 Mstislav Rostropovich’s recitals in the program A Symphony of Peace was broadcast from the Hermitage Theater all over the world.

During the theatrical season, operas as well as ballet concerts are given at the Hermitage theater almost every night. Troupes of the Mariinsky Theater, the Alexandrinsky Theater, and the St Petersburg Opera Theater often perform here. All ballet productions follow the original choreography. A recent tradition is Vaganova Ballet Academy graduation concerts.

A story of the Hermitage theater will be incompleted if we don’t mention its auditorium, which is truly unique. The architect designed it as an ancient amphitheater decorated with columns and statues of Apollo and the nine muses. Any seat commands a perfect view of the stage. The theater’s superb acoustics make any performance here an unforgettable experience.

Interesting facts:

- The Hermitage Theater was built on the site of the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, where he died in 1725.
- Catherine the Great, who was a great theater-lover, wrote short plays for the theater.
- The Hermitage Theater is on the Russian State Cultural Heritage Register – the list of monuments of the national history and art.