Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg

Published: January 7, 2016

Arts Square in St, Petersburg is the location of the Russian Arts Museum, the Grand Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, and the Theater of Music Comedy. Arts Square is also the location of the Mikhailovsky Theater. This theater features the performances of opera and ballet. At the Mikhailovsky Theater, I saw Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballets Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

The Mikhailovsky Theater opened in 1833. In that same year, a French troupe moved into the theater, which began the 85 years of French Theater in St. Petersburg. French plays alternated with Russian and German works. The theater became the center of French culture in the city. Beginning in the 1870s, the theater opened its doors to various performers by groups from other St. Petersburg theaters and touring companies. The theater also hosted celebrations and charity shows. In 1894, several performances of the Mariinsky Theater were transferred to the Mikhailovsky Theater. The year 1918 marks the modern period of the theater. Now a new opera house was established in the city. From 1918 to the 1932/1933-concert season, the theater was on a quest to create something unique within the musical life of the city. During this time, an opera company and ballet troupe was formed and the directors of the theater aimed at creating Soviet operas. In 2007, the official name of the theater became the St. Petersburg Mussorgsky State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater-Mikhailovsky Theater.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) composed three ballets: Swan Lake (1876), Sleeping Beauty (1889) and The Nutcracker (1892). I was able to see a performance of Swan Lake at the New Mariinksy Theater. Sleeping Beauty is a ballet with a prologue and three acts. The ballet was based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant (1697). The choreographer of the original production was Marius Petipa. The ballet premiered at the Mariinsky Theater on January 15, 1890. This was the first time I have ever seen this ballet performed lived. The Nutcracker is a ballet in two acts. Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov originally choreographed it. The ballet is based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816). The ballet premiered on December 18, 1892 on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta. I have seen this ballet since I was a little girl and seeing this work has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. The music in The Nutcracker left a strong impression on me when I was young and it is this ballet that influenced me to become a Russian musicologist and to eventually study in Russia.

Mikhailovsky Theater
Sleeping Beauty/Спящая красавица
The Nutcracker/Шелкунчик
tickets starting at about 750 ru for each show

About the author

Jesika Berry

Jesika Berry holds a bachelors of arts in music performance (flute) from Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia. She has formerly been a principle flautist for AUC Symphony Orchestra (Atlanta) and a cellist for the Huxford Symphony Orchestra (Tuscaloosa). After completing SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, she planned to go on to graduate studies in Russian musicology.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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