The Mariinsky Opera, Russia, 2016

Tour Dates: 17th - 23rd October, 2016

The history of the Mariinsky Opera Company dates back to 1783 when Empress Catherine II issued a decree on the establishment of a theatre committee.

Tour Dates
  • 17th - 23rd October, 2016


The history of the Mariinsky Opera Company dates back to 1783 when Empress Catherine II issued a decree on the establishment of a theatre committee. Its publication coincided with the opening of the Bolshoi (Stone) Theatre on Carousel Square (now Theatre Square). In the 1840s, performances by the Russian Opera Company were transferred from the Bolshoi to the Alexandrinsky Theatre and the so-called Circus Theatre, which was located opposite the Bolshoi. When, in 1859, the Circus Theatre was destroyed by fire, a new theatre was built on the same site, once again by Alberto Cavos. It was named the Mariinsky in honour of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II.

Over the years, Mariinsky Theatre stands out for the premieres of the most important operas in the history of Russian music, such as Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov, May Night and The Snow Maiden, Borodin’s Prince Igor, Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans, The Enchantress, The Queen of Spades and Iolanta, Rubinstein’s The Demon, Taneyev’s Orest etc. Numerous renowned singers worked for the Mariinky Opera Company, among them Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya, Maria Kuznetsova-Benois, Olga Kashevarova, Irina Bogacheva, Nikolai Okhotnikov etc.

Today, the Mariinsky Opera Company is a natural blend of experience, traditions and youthful energy. Its soloists perform not just on their home stage but at leading opera houses throughout the world. The theatre is playing host to world premieres of productions of operas by contemporary composers, among them Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer, Alexander Smelkov’s The Brothers Karamazov and Nikolai Karetnikov’s The Mystery of the Apostle Paul.

In the 1990s and at the start of this century works by Richard Wagner returned to the repertoire, among them his Der Ring des Nibelungen, performed – as are other operatic works – in the original language. European classics are represented by operas by Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Donizetti, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Bizet, Rossini, Richard Strauss, Janaček, Bartok, Britten and other composers. In line with tradition, the repertoire is based on operas by Russian composers including Glinka, Borodin, Rimsky- Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

Artistic & General Director: Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev is Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. He established and directs festivals including the Stars of the White Nights, the Gergiev Festival (the Netherlands) and the Moscow Easter Festival. In 1997 following Sir Georg Solti’s death, Valery Gergiev took over the World Orchestra for Peace. The maestro is Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and, starting in 2015, will become Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the Mariinsky Theatre Gergiev has overseen the emergence of a plethora of world-class singers. Under his direction the theatre’s opera and ballet repertoires have become much richer and more diverse, now including a broad range of works from 18th to 20th century classics as well as music by contemporary composers. In 2006 the Concert Hall opened on the site of workshops that had burnt down, and 2nd May 2013 saw the opening of the new Mariinsky Theatre (Mariinsky-II) alongside the historical building, thanks to which the Mariinsky Theatre was transformed into a theatre and concert complex unparalleled in Russia.

Established by Gergiev in 2009, the Mariinsky recording label has already released more than 25 discs that have won praise and acclaim from critics and audiences alike across the globe. He works with the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna, New York and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras and the Filarmonica della Scala. In 2014 the Children’s Chorus of Russia, founded on the initiative of Valery Gergiev on the basis of the All-Russian Choral Society, first performed a programme at the Mariinsky-II and subsequently took part in the Closing Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Games in Sochi. Gergiev’s numerous awards and prizes include prestigious government decorations from Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Poland. He is Dean of the Faculty of Arts of the St Petersburg State University, Co-Chairman of the Organisational Committee of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, Chairman of the All-Russian Choral Society and Honorary President of the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2012 the maestro was awarded the titles of Honorary Doctor of the Moscow State University and Honorary Professor of the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire.