The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the largest theatres in the world; it plays a significant role in world culture. It is known in Russian history as Leningrad State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after S. Kirov (abroad it was known as Kirovsky Theatre), and later as Academic State Mariinsky Theatre.
The theatre of majestic history
The Mariinsky Theatre was founded in 1783 by the order of the Empress Catherine the Great as a part of Russian Imperial Theatres. It was located in a building on Karuselnaya Square which now is called the Theatre Square. At the same time a decree establishing a Committee for the management of shows and music in Russia was issued.
In 1859 the theatre was named Mariinsky in honor of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II. Together with Russian actors Italian and French artists performed there. Dramatic pieces were alternated with concerts. The repertoire of Mariinsky Theatre consisted of such stage masterpieces as: "The Magic Flute", "Cinderella", "Semiramis", "The Barber of Seville", "La Bayadere", "Giselle", "The Queen of Spades", "Iolanta", "Ivan Susanin". Romantic opera, light musical comedies and heroic opera were performed there. Great compositions by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi sounded there. It has become a birthplace of world-famous Russian ballet where dancing is like music... All foreign guests seek for a ticket to the Mariinsky Theatre.
In times of the Soviet Union the Imperial Theatre was renamed to the State Theatre. During two centuries it have seen many different eras with changes in government and ideologies but the art has been always clean and independent of time. The Mariinsky remembers the great figures of opera and ballet such as Feodor Chaliapin, Ivan Yershov, Sophia Preobrazhenskaya, Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Galina Ulanova, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
According to technological progress
At its birth the theatre was equipped with the latest theatre technology of that time. The Mariinsky has never been going to keep up with technological progress! St. Petersburg was continuously growing, changing its shape in accordance with the trends of the time, and so did the theatre.
The first major reconstruction of the Mariinsky took place in 1802-1803: the famous architect Thomas de Thomon altered its internal and external design. In 1836 the modifications were made for better acoustics: the dome of the building was replaced by a flat cover, columns were removed, and the hall was given a horseshoe shape.
In 1885 a three-storeyed building for the theatre workshops and other technical facilities was added to the main building. In 1894 wooden rafters were replaced with steel, foyer was expanded. In 1968-1970 during the next general reconstruction the left wing of the building was increased. Not long ago the Mariinsky also had gone through reconstruction. Today the theatre has three stages, and one of them was opened quite recently – in 2013.