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The Mikhailovsky Theater
The Mikhailovsky Theater has always been a competitor to the Marrinsky Theater. They rival in its splendour, the artistic level of productions and performing stars.
The theater’s glorious history started with the choice of the architect responsible for the construction of the building. This honour was awarded to Alexander Brullov, a refined connoisseur of arts. He managed to indigenously integrate a new building for the theater into the existing architectural ensemble of Arts Square. Alexander Brullov designed a fairy casket – it is not possible to guess that a theater is hidden behind the modest façade unless one casts a glance at the roof of the building and notices that behind the cupola there stands a high case of the stage above the auditorium. All the glamour of the imperial theater – silver and velvet, mirrors and crystals, paintings and moldings - is inside.
On November 8, 1833 the theater opened its doors to receive first visitors. It was named after Grand Duke Mikhail, a son of the Emperor Paul I, and after some time become strongly associated with fine arts. All St Petersburg’s beau monde as well as the Imperial family and the court frequented the Mikhailovsky Theater. Performances were given by a French and a German companies. The orchestra was more than once conducted by Maestro Johann Strauss.
After the 1917 revolution, the theater’s history became more dramatic albeit not less intensive. The theater got a new name, a new troupe and its aristocratic ambience. Despite its hard lot in this period of time, the theater stayed at the peak of the city’s life. The troupe was always headed by prominent dancers and choreographers. At the same time, the theater became sort of a laboratory where the new Soviet opera was brewed. It was on this stage that many trailblazing operas of Shostakovich, Meyerhold and Sergei Prokofiev were premiered.
In the Soviet period the theater was famous primarily for its stage productions of Russian classical operas: Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina by Mussorgsky, Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky, The Golden Cockerel and The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Prince Igor by Borodin.
In 2001, the theater’s original pre-revolutionary period name The Mikhailovsky Theater arose from the depths of the centuries. And in 2007, the theater regained its reputation as that of the most fashionable musical theaters in St Petersburg.
Currently, the theater remains true to its age-old traditions and has a keen sense of the pulse of the modern theatrical process worldwide. The theater is headed by internationally renowned artists the ballet troupe is directed by Nacho Duato, several productions have been prepared by Vassily Barkhatov, one of the youngest and the most imaginative theater figures today, the orchestra is under the baton of Vassily Petrenko, one of the most sought after conductors from the younger generation!
At the initiative of the new General Director of The Mikhailovsky Theater Vladimir Kekhman the building of the theater was repaired and renovated. The project was sponsored by Mr Kekhman. Grand décor of the auditorium and the public part of the theater were restored, which makes it possible for spectators not only to enjoy operas and ballets but also to spend their time in a really comfortable way.
The Mikhailovsky Theater has its own Friends’ Club . Members of the Club have some privileges which we will be happy to share with you.
Some curious facts from the theater’s life: during the dry law time, the theater’s sceneries were stored at the Church on Spilled Blood, located nearby which also housed a liquor storage in the cellar. A joke which was frequent in private discussions said that God offered very special care to stagehand guys.
The last but not the least, if you want to flaunt your knowledge of the theater, refer to it as MALEGOT for this is the name used by local theater pundits.