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Mariinsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Mariinsky Teatr Opery I Balleta)
Mariinsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Mariinsky Teatr Opery I Balleta) Review
Mariinsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Once known as the Kirov and still advertised internationally under that brand, the world-renowned Mariinsky is one of Russia's finest artistic institutions, a definite must-see. The names Petipa, Pavlova, Nijinsky, and Nureyev—and countless others associated with the theater and the birth of ballet in St. Petersburg—are enough to lure ballet lovers to an evening here. The Mariinsky is without doubt one of the best ballet companies in the world, with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of stars.
St. Petersburg maintains its reputation as a citadel of classical ballet, but the works of some more modern works do appear on the playbill. However, audiences are slow to change their expectations, and modern ballets almost always perform to a half-empty auditorium. Between February and March, the company runs the impressive Mariinsky International Ballet Festival, which has at least one premiere and an array of guest performers from other renowned companies, such as London's Royal Ballet, Opera Bastille, and the American Ballet Theater.
The Mariinsky is also at the forefront of the world's opera companies, thanks largely to the achievements of the Mariinsky's artistic director Valery Gergiev. The company's best operatic repertoire centers on Russian opera: Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Prokofiev's Semyon Kotko, Shostakovich's The Nose, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, and The Snow Maiden are particularly recommended.
Operas are all sung in their original language; Russian operas are all provided with English subtitles, while Russian subtitles are given for foreign operas. Verdi can be hit-or-miss, but Wagner is one of Gergiev's greatest passions, and the company now feels very much at home with the composer. The orchestra's rapport with the conductor is amazing, the sound is nuanced and powerful.
Ballet and opera share the calendar throughout the year; the opera and ballet companies both tour, but at any given time one of the companies is performing in St. Petersburg. A second stage, designed by the renowned Canadian architectural firm Diamond and Schmitt, is set to open in late 2011.
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