Summer Gardens

Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre

Ballet, classical music and opera.
For most visitors, catching a ballet at the Mariinsky is the main priority, which means that getting hold of a ticket can be difficult. If you have no luck, don't despair as there are several other respected venues, where you can see ballet and opera. Classical concerts take place throughout the year in St. Petersburg, with the largest number occuring during the Stars of the White Nights Festival (June 21 -- July 11), when Yelagin Island hosts outdoor performances. Besides the main venues churches and palaces around the city also host concerts, while Orthodox Church music and military bands are worth hearing.

The Arts

For more than a century now, St Petersburg has been one of the world's great centres of classical music, most famously represented by us ballet company, the Mariinskiy (formerty the Kirov), but also by its fine orchestras and choirs. However, the sudden withdrawal of state funding left the music scene in a state of crisis, and the opening of the borders has led to an exodus of many of Russia's most talented dancers and musicians, so standards do not always match expectations.

Despite small drama troupes springing up all over, theatre has suffered in recent times largely because of the language problem which prevents it from attracting richer, foreign visitors. Nevertheless, even if you don't speak Russian, there are performances which don't require any great degree of fluency - mime and puppetry, for example.

Film, which once flourished through the local studio Lenfilm, has all but disap-peared as a home-grown art form, with most cinemas now showing not much more than the latest blockbusters and American action movies.

Concert halls and opera houses

Bolshoy Concert Hall Oktyabrskiy
The city's most modem concert hall, used by Russian and foreign concert artists and orchestras. Ballet performances are to recorded music.

The oldest concert hall in St Petersburg, to the east of the Winter Palace It has its own internationally renowned resident choir but also stages concerts of folk and classical music.

Maliy Opera and Ballet Theatre
The ballet and opera performed at the Maliy comes a poor second to the Maninskiy, though the theatre itself is no less beautiful Tickets are easy to come by, except during July and August when the tour groups are forced to come to the Maliy because the Maninskiy is closed.

Mariinsky Theatre
Sumptuous nineteenth-century ballet and opera house better known by its old Soviet title, the Kirov Along with the Bolshoy in Moscow, the Mariinsky has, over the years, produced some of the world's best ballet dancers However the current economic crisis forces the company to tour for much of the year. leaving behind second-fate dancers to sand in at the Maninskiy. The best tine to catch the house ballet company is dunng winter, when it puts on consistently good performances of The Nutcracker and for children, The Golden Cockerel, performed by junior members of the Vaganova ballet school Tickets sell out fast. if you're lucky you might get a cheap stand-by seat at around 6pm on the night of the performance otherwise you'll have to haggle with the ticket touts outside who will want dollars Having secured a ticket, you may want to dress up to the nines, quaff champagne and promenade with your partner around the Great Hall during the intermission - since that's what everyone else does Closed Jluly & Aug.

Concert venue, consisting of two halls the Bolshoy zal, a large, and the Maliy zal a small intimate hall. whose entrance is at Nevskiy prospekl 30.

Yubileyniy Sports Palace
Sports complex on Petrograd Side. with an ice rink which stages "ballet on ice" shows dunng the winter.

Orthodox Church Choirs
Russian Orthodox Church music is solely choral and wonderfully in keeping with the rituals of the faith. Splendid choirs perform at the Alexander Nevsky Trinity Cathedial and the Preobrazhenskiy Church. The choir at the latter is composed of professional singers from the Kapella choir. Orthodox services are also held at the St. Nicholas Cathedral at 6pm, and at other churches on a less regular basis. Musically speaking, the best services are those on Sat evening and Sun morning.


St. Petersburg prides itself on its dramatic tradition and boasts several sumptuously appointed theatres. Though performances (naturalty enough) are in Russian, you don't need to understand much to appreciate some of the more experimental productions -- not to mention mime, puppetry, musicals and the circus, all of which are regularly on offer.

Alexandninskry Theatre
A beautiful Neoclassical theatre designed by Rossi with a wider repertoire than the D and including ballet as well as straight theatre (though no less conservative in its treatment).

Baltyskiy Dom
A good place to catch some of the more exciting and innovative new companies currently performing in Si Petersburg.

D (The Big Dramatic Theatre)
The city's top mainstream theatre whose repertoire includes most of the Russian classics, though the productions tend to be fairly conservative. At the theatre's malaya stsena -- or studio theatre -- you can see performances of works in progress, drama competitions and festival shows.

Komissarzhevsky Theatre
A theatre just off ploshchad Iskusstv with a long tradition of realist drama particularly inaccessible to non-Russian speakers.

Maly Dramatic Theatre
Under director Lev Dodin this theatre has gained an international reputation if you know your classics it may be worth a visit.

Open Theatre
Wide ranging repertoire including some of the more controversial mud slinging Russian satires.

Priyut komedianta
This basement theatre off Nevskiy prospekt was started by an actor from the BDT Mostly presents adaptations of prose and poetry readings from the "Silver Age" of Russian literature Worth attending if you have some grasp of the language.

Museums and Galleries listing.
Concert Halls and Theatres listing.

Please direct your further inquiries on museums, theatres and concert halls to Independent Traveller's Adviser

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