Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Swan Lake in Catherine's personal theatre

One advantage of the visa free program is that you are free to roam around St. Petersburg on your own, something that passengers on cruise ships cannot do. We wanted to see something typically Russian in the evening. Unfortunately the Swan Lake tickets for the next evening were selling for well over €200 each so we settled on seeing Swan Lake in the smaller Catherine's Theatre in the Hermitage for much less money.

The Hermitage Theatre was built as a private theatre for Catherine between in 1782-1787. A keen theatregoer, Catherine even wrote libretti for some of the operas performed there, and arranged for St. Petersburg's various theatre troupes to stage performances there two or three times a week. Most performances were attended by a select group of the empress's closest friends and advisers.

The theatre's fully restored interior is magnificent: it features rich decorations including statues of Apollo and the Muses, and bas-reliefs depicting famous musicians and poets. The Hermitage Ballet theatre is one of the best Chamber Ballets in Russia. The artistic director is Lev Bruskin, a classmate of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

We thoroughly enjoyed our step back in time to watch Swan Lake in this historic jewel of a theatre.

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