The Mariinsky Theatre represents a unique cultural force on the world stage among performing arts organizations. Its touring schedule and residencies abroad total more than 200 performances each year and span the globe, from North America, to Europe, Asia and beyond. The Mariinsky‘s artistic impact and its ambassadorial role on behalf of Russian culture have been recognized by governments and international organizations alike.
The Mariinsky Theatre was established in 1783 following a decree by Empress Catherine the Great to stage the first Russian comic operas and the best works of foreign composers. The current theatre building on Theatre Square was opened in 1860. The theatre‘s magnificent decor of dazzling white sculptures, lustrous gilt chandeliers and light blue upholstery created the perfect atmosphere in which to herald in St. Petersburg‘s golden period of operatic history.
In 1862, Giuseppe Verdi‘sLa Forza del Destino premiered on
the Mariinsky stage and opened the door for the premieres of Russian
masterpieces such as Boris Godunov (1874), Prince Igor (1890),
and The Queen of Spades (1890). The Mariinsky Theatre, under the baton
of Eduard Napravnik, quickly took its place among the world‘s leading opera
houses. The theater‘s ballet company under the director of Marius
Petipa was equally distinguished, premiering Peter
Tchaikovsky‘sSwan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and
influencing the development of classical dance for generations to come. At
the beginning of the 20th Century, legendary artists such as Fyodor Chaliapin,
Anna Pavlova and Vladislav Nijinsky graced the Mariinsky‘s stage. Under Soviet
rule, the Mariinsky Theatre was renamed the Kirov Theatre, a change which did
not alter the high quality of its artistic productions or affect the supreme
talents of the dancers, musicians and singers performing on its stage. In
1988, Valery Gergiev was appointed Artistic Director and Principal
Conductor of the Kirov Opera. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the
theatre reverted to its pre-Revolutionary name, and in 1996, Gergiev was named
Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. Under his leadership the
Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra have continued to garner worldwide praise.
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