Russia is steeped in culture, especially in St. Petersburg. Flowing through the veins of this city and its people is a love of arts so deep, it can rival most any other nation in the world. The epicenter of culture and art in St. Petersburg happens to be the legendary Mariinsky Theatre – a 156 year-old venue that has hosted the country’s czars, heads-of-state, noble families and every day citizens looking for a taste of magic.
The stunning façade of the Mariinsky was designed by Albert Cavos and glows in any season – it’s blue-green paint reflecting the snow and sun. Inside, an ornate theatre sits packed with patrons, eager to see that evening’s offering. Aside from the original theatre, there is a newly built sister venue, the Mariinsky II, which hosts operas and other performances that might require a larger crowd. Though starkly different in architecture and design, the Mariinsky II, is equally as breath taking. It’s glass and wood structure coming to life when dancers and singer take the stage.
I recently experienced both venues during my time in St. Petersburg. I enjoyed the iconic Swan Lake at the Mariinsky II – one of the most moving ballet performances I’ve ever seen. And, I enjoyed La Sylphide at the original Mariinsky. This performance was short, sweet and so elegant in its design and execution.
For any visitor to St. Petersburg who wants a moment of culture that is innately part of Russian heritage, the Mariinsky must be included in your travel plans. I cannot explain the feeling and energy during the final act of Swan Lake. It will be a moment I remember and cherish for a lifetime.