Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Mariinsky Theater

Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Mariinsky Theater

Katya Boyarskaya is a long-time MIR tour manager, guide and director of MIR’s affiliate St. Petersburg, Russia office. She was born in St. Petersburg into a theatrical family, graduating as a drama theater critic and historian from the College of Theatrical Arts. In her series on St. Petersburg, Katya shares insider tips on one of her city’s famous theaters.

Katya Boyarskaya was born into the Boyarsky theatrical dynasty, which is the title of this book she authored <br>Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

Katya Boyarskaya was born into the Boyarsky theatrical dynasty, which is the title of this book she authored
Photo credit: Igor Smolnikov

 Mariinsky Ballet Company (formerly ‘Kirov’)This is my bold but true statement: Mariinsky Ballet Company is every bit as good as the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and every bit as beautiful. It may even be higher class in my mind, since it is more devoted to classical traditions.

Dancers take their bows at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

Dancers take their bows at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia
Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

Ballet dancers have graced the Mariinsky stage for more than 200 years Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

Ballet dancers have graced the Mariinsky stage for more than 200 years
Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

The gorgeous blue and gold main hall is surrounded on three sides with gilded tiers of box seats, and as the lights dim, swags of gold-embroidered velvet curtains part to show the stage.

The Mariinsky's famed curtain was designed by Alexander Golovin Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

The Mariinsky’s famed curtain was designed by Alexander Golovin in 1914
Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

An annual ritual, chandeliers in the Mariinsky Theater are washed, polished and light bulbs replaced Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

An annual ritual, chandeliers in the Mariinsky Theater are washed, polished and light bulbs replaced
Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

The "Tsar's Box," where royalty once sat at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

The “Czar’s Box,” where royalty once watched performances at the Mariinsky Theater 
Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

If you watched the Sochi Olympics Winter Games closing ceremonies, you could see both famous stages – Bolshoi and Mariinsky – and nearly their full size! Originally built in 1783, the theater has maintained its present appearance since around 1886. In 2014, the Mariinsky Theater celebrated 231 seasons in St. Petersburg.


My Insider TipsThese are some of my favorite things to know about the Mariinsky Theater:

  • The Mariinsky is the #1 theater in St. Petersburg. Don’t miss it!
  • Best performance to watch: Swan Lake. You’re lucky if you see Uliana Lopatkina dancing the main role; other performers are also brilliant.
  • Dance styles: For now, the Mariinsky performs only classical ballets. Any production you see will be pure, authentic Russian ballet.
Lithe ballerina dances at the Mariinsky Theater, once known as the Kirov Theater in Soviet times <br>Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

Lithe ballerina dances at the Mariinsky Theater, known as the Kirov Theater in Soviet times
Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

Travel to Russia with MIRMany of MIR’s small group tours that travel to Russia visit the world-renowned theaters of Moscow and St. Petersburg, where you can see first-hand their place in Russia’s rich cultural history. You can also book a custom private journey.

Read more of Katya’s insider looks and tips on her hometown’s top theaters.

(Top photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum) 

PUBLISHED: November 6, 2014

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