Theatres in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, often called the cultural capital of Russia, lives a rich theatrical life. The first Russian professional theatre was opened in the city in 1756, by the act of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna. Nowadays more than 180 theatres are operating in the city, showcasing not only world-famous musical and drama theatres, but also avant-garde experimental venues.
Undoubtedly, the symbol of Russian opera and ballet art is the Mariinsky theatre, about which we wrote in one of our articles: https://petersburg4u.com/mariinsky-theater
Classical and experimental productions are offered to audience in the Mikhailovsky theatre, more information about its history and repertoire can be found here: https://petersburg4u.com/mikhailovsky-theatre
Another musical theatre, State Theatre also known as “St. Petersburg Opera” was founded in 1987 and is famous for its “modern and creative approach”. Its repertoire includes musical works from various genres: opera, operetta, and works of contemporary composers, some of which can be discovered here.
Address: 190000, St. Petersburg, Galernaya street, 33. The mansion of Baron von Derviz.
Office: +7 (812) 312-39-82, 314-09-55
Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama theatre, known worldwide as the BDT, was founded in 1918, shortly after the Revolution. The first art director of the theatre was a famous poet Aleksander Blok and creative leader a writer, Maxim Gorky. Not a surprise that the theatre repertoire of that time reflected the idea of a heroic man and his great achievement – liberation.
Under the direction of George Alexandrovich Tovstonogov, from the middle of 20th century, BDT became the trendsetter of the Russian theatre life. Impressive performances with original interpretation were admired almost by everyone throughout the country. The acting companies included I. M. Smoktunovsky, O.I. Borisov, T. V. Doronina, E. A. Lebedev, S. Y. Yursky, K. Y. Lavrov and many others.
Today the repertoire of the theatre includes works of Russian and world classics: “Mary Stuart” by F. Schiller, “The House of broken hearts” by B. Shaw, “The Quartet” by R. Harwood, “Vassa Zheleznova” by Maxim Gorky, “The lady with the dog” by Anton Chekhov, “The landlady” by K. Goldoni, performed by the greatest actors of our time: Alisa Freindlich, Oleg Basilashvili, L. I. Makarova, Z. M. Sharko, V. M. Ivchenko and others.
Address: 191023, St.-Petersburg, Fontanka river emb., 65
Office: +7 (812) 244-10-71
The second stage
Address: 197022, Saint Petersburg, The Old Theatre square (Ploshad Starogo Teatra), 13
Booking office: +7 (812) 244-59-04, +7 (921) 31-400-31
Russian state academic drama theatre of A. S. Pushkin, better known as the Alexandrinsky theatre is the oldest theatre in Russia established by the Empress Elizabeth on the 30th of August of 1756 and the date of its foundation is considered the birthday of Russian professional theatre.
A magnificent building was constructed on Nevsky Prospekt by the n architect Carlo Rossi in 1832; it was named the Alexandrinsky theatre in honor of the wife of Emperor Nicholas I – Alexandra Fyodorovna.
From 18th till early 20th century it was the main Imperial theatre and was visited by A. S. Pushkin, M. Y. Lermontov, N. V. Gogol, I. S. Turgenev, F. M. Dostoevsky, L. N. Tolstoy, A. P. Chekhov, P. I. Tchaikovsky and members of the Imperial family. The stage of the theatre hosted many premieres of Russian classics: from “Woe from wit” by A. S. Griboyedov to the plays of A. N. Ostrovsky and Anton Chekhov.
An extensive renovation was carried out in 2006 to restore the historic interiors of the building and preserve the spirit of the past, by implemented engineering solutions that make the theatre one of the most modern venues.
Modern performances with sophisticated audio-visual effects can be viewed at the recently opened “New stage of the Alexandrinsky theater”.
Address: 191011, St. Petersburg, Ostrovskogo square, 6
Office: +7 (812) 312-15-45
Address: 191011, St. Petersburg, Fontanka River emb., 49A
Office: +7 (812) 401-53-41
Maly drama theatre (MDT)
This theatre is beloved not only by locals, but by other European theatre-goers as well. No wonder in 1998 it was awarded the title “Theatre of Europe”, which is carried only by 3 theatres in the world: MDT, “Odeon” in Paris and the “Piccolo” in Milan. Art director Lev Dodin is considered to be the master of experiments, he reinvents classical works of world literature with a fresh shrill. The repertoire of the theatre includes “The possessed” by F. M. Dostoevsky, “The Cherry orchard” by A. P. Chekhov, “King Lear” and “The Winter’s tale” by W. Shakespeare, “Lord of the flies” by William Golding and others.
Address: 191002, Saint-Petersburg, Rubinshteina str, 18
Office: +7 (812) 713-20-78
Apart from the well-known classical giants, there are many small dramatic venues that are open to experiments in St. Petersburg. The audience in such theatres practically sits on the stage, which sometimes can be very fascinating, the audience also has the opportunity to observe the actors in close proximity and sometimes even participate in the production.
Theatre “Osobnyak”, for example, has 80 seats surrounded by brick walls, without any finishing. The venue has no art director and the productions are performed by guest directors. “The experimental theatre” is the home of classics reinvention with a modern twist. Most successful performances: “The Dream about the cherry orchard”, “Delusion” (a variation on the theme of “Crime and Punishment”), “The King Dies” E. Ionescu.
Address: 197022, Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, 55
Cashier: +7 (812) 234-25-31, +7 (921) 906-91-53
The “Theatre of Rains” is even more intimate, it has 55 seats in the auditorium with just five rows. The style of theatre can be defined as “Russian psychological”. The repertoire consists of classical pieces. One of the most favorite works among the audience is “The House that Swift built” and “Memorial prayer” by Grigory Gorin.
Address: 190005, Fontanka River Emb., 130
Office: +7 (812) 251-41-90
A unique area of the city is Art-cafe “Stray dog”, located near the Square of Arts. In the beginning of the 20th century it was the first literary and artistic cabaret of Russia operating at night, no wonder it became the center of gravity for poets, actors and artists of the Silver age, such as A. A. Akhmatova, K. D. Balmont, I. Severyanin, O. E. Mandelshtam, Vladimir Mayakovsky…
In the late 20th century art space was reopened, revealing the energy and spirit of those times. Notice that the walls are covered with autographs of people who breathed new life into this place: Y. H. Temirkanov, M. M. Shemyakin, E. V. Obraztsova, T. P. Novikov, D. L. Matsuev.
The café hosts solo performances, literary and musical evenings. Solo performance about the life of A. Vertinsky called “Yellow tango” is a hit for many years.
Address: 101011, St. Petersburg, Italyanskaya str., 4
Office: +7 (812) 312-80-47
Translation by Kira Horm
Edited by Joan Akatukunda