CriticalDance Forum

Mariinsky Theatre Closure: postponed until 2009
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Oct 01, 2006 5:53 am ]
Post subject:  Mariinsky Theatre Closure: postponed until 2009

Based on an announcement in Thursday's newspaper, ... ction=6820

the Ministry of Culture and Government of St. Petersburg have announced the delay of the closure of the Mariinsky Theatre. Current plans are to wait until completion of the new Dominique Perrot building (est. 2009) and at that point to close the main theatre for renovation.

Perrot has also proposed a 10% shorter building, and his proposal is expected to be approved in the coming weeks. The cost of the new building is estimated at 185 million Euros, which is 10 million more than initial cost estimates given during the competition for building design two years ago. Nonetheless, due to community concern, a shorter version is welcome.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:31 pm ]
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Great News, Catherine ! Thank You !

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Oct 02, 2006 4:52 am ]
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You're welcome Buddy. It is indeed great news. It has seemed the logical thing to do from the get-go, but unfortunately it took a year and a half to reach this point. The important thing, however, is that the point has indeed been reached!


Author:  NataliaN [ Mon Oct 02, 2006 8:06 am ]
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I wonder if this means that the Vaganova Academy will indeed graduate a class in June 2007? If you recall, at the June '06 graduation it was announced that there would be no graduation class until June 2008. At the time, it was assumed that this was due to the closure of the theater, although there may be academic reasons for 'skipping' a year.

There is precedent for this, by the way. Vaganova cancelled the graduation of a class in the early/mid 1930s due to a change in the curriculum at the school (an additional year's coursework).

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:57 am ]
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The Vaganova Academy will not be graduating a class of 2007 but this is not related to any theatre closure events as far as I know. They have changed the syllabus to add a ninth year of study beginning with this year -- meaning this year's level 8 students will continue for a 9th year and graduate in 2008. I was told this is in coordination with efforts to align the Russian system with European ones, as well as to give the boys in particular an extra year to refine technique before joining the company (any company).

Based on what you wrote about the 1930s, Natalia, I am curious if this change will be permanent...

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:34 am ]
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I'm copying and pasting my post from the "Vasiev to resign" thread here, as this is where it belongs. I wrote in response to Cassandra's question as to why the rebuilding of the MT has not yet begun:


Cassandra, hello -

To your question about rebuilding the old theatre.

In the 27 February visit by Putin to the Mariinsky Theatre, in which Makhalina received the People's Artist of Russia award, and both Fadeyev and Tereshkina received Honored Artist awards, Gergiev made a comment that was in the news. He said that the new theatre --which incidentally continues to be built just behind the MT -- will not be finished before 2010 and he does not want a slapshod job, because he loves this theatre and does not want to ever be considered its enemy. The plan is to complete the new theatre, move into the new and out of the old, and THEN close the old for renovation. In short, at this very moment there is no where else to put everyone, and the former plans to squeeze people into other inappropriate theatres/stages in the city was thankfully abandoned when its idiocy was recognized.

As for the rebuilding itself, I personally think it will be a loss for the city (and country) if the kind of rebuilding that I imagine (Russian style) will take place. Backstage, the number of old-fashioned tricks and trap doors are charming and still functional. Whatever the state of the house itself -- and yes, a fresh layer of paint and caulking could be used -- to demolish parts of this history seems to me a travesty.

[afterthought: Furthermore, you rarely encounter cases of new buildings being higher quality than the old -- esp in the construction here in Russia, for example, the new steklopaketi windows that are all the rage are not soundproof as they claim to be, and do not protect from the cold as well as the old double layer wood windows. (not saying the MT is doing this but there is something to be said for construction that lasts hundreds of years!) I presume even in a multi million dollar theatre project there will be differences that are not necessarily better in the end for the artists (smaller rooms/studios? poorer floors?). I hope I'm wrong but I have a bad feeling about that. New not necessarily being better...]

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:36 am ]
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As an additional note on construction issues, an example of the renovation inside the Vaganova Academy.

In November I visited a class and asked the teacher about the floors -- which he said are the wooden originals. As the studios are renovated, the old floors will be torn out, and replaced with marley. He explained that the studios used to have photographs in them but those were taken down and the walls repainted.

So as they "renovate" in Russia, much of the past is being lost. That was what I was getting at in the previous post, and I worry about this as far as the theatre is concerned.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:58 pm ]
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Catherine, from what I have seen in Saint Petersburg and at the Catherine's (a relative of yours?) Palace outside the city, the country has done an Incredibly Good Job in restoring their war damaged historical monuments. Hopefully the Bolshoi and Mariinsky restorations will be the same.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:04 pm ]
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Hi Buddy,
Ha ha. Yes, they did a nice job at my namesake’s palace, didn’t they?
I guess I wasn’t making myself clear. Of course restoration can be beautiful, but the fact remains that the original gets lost in the process. I find it much more exciting to see a worn piece of wood with chipped paint and know that Catherine II herself –or her servants or her son, or someone in years past -- may have touched it at one point, rather than fresh wood and paint that was just installed a few years ago to give the look of how it was all originally – that is all I was saying. We have plenty of “new buildings” around… I guess there is no other way to “preserve” the former structures without redoing the outer layers in the process. As far as the theatre goes though, I was under the impression they were going to destroy some of the current internal structure, maybe not in the hall and balconies and stage, but the studios, rehearsal halls, corridors. I find that a shame , as shoddy as the current “catacombs” are, they are a charming reminder at every inch of the way, of the Mariinsky’s long historical past.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:23 pm ]
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Catherine, I do agree with you. If as much of the original building can be left in tact as possible I am all for it. It depends on how much rebuilding is required to make the building safe and usable. I have an interesting response to your seemingly logical statement about having to change the outside if you have to redo the structure holding it up. In Switzerland it is the law I believe with historic buildings that the outside can not be altered at all. Somehow they have to keep it standing while it's supporting structure is being rebuilt.

[typo correction]

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:48 am ]
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Hm, interesting. That reminds me of some apartment hunting I did last year. There are buildings around the theatre that are also considered historical that contain(ed) apartments for sale. For a potential buyer, this is kind of a money pit for two reasons: the offically historical buildings are not allowed to be destroyed and rebuilt, but I have heard different things about which parts can be redone: in some cases, the entire thing can be demolished if only the original internal walls remain (and those are then inevitably painted over...) There is a dom on Kazanskaya ulitsa, not sure if you saw, it but the facade was kept intact while they took a wrecking ball to everything else behind it. Anyway, because they are restricted to certain kinds of renovation w/the historical "monuments", this limits the funcitonality you are purchasing. The other issue is the intra-floor support ("perekriitye") which is typically wood in many of the older structures, and with time starts to sink or sag. Structural reinforcements (I was told) can't be made on such buildings so really you're living inside a prayer! I'm not saying this is the case w/the theatre, just an example of how sticky it gets with such issues!

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:04 pm ]
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By the way, I just read that MT has decided NOT to build the Dominique Perrot designed expansion to the Mariinsky Theatre complex (it was announced back on November 5, 2008). Valery Gergiev said that the Perrot design is not suited to the harsh winter environment of the city, and probably implied the design was just too "modern" to match the architecture of the rest of the city. I would not be surprised that we see a new, more "traditional" design emerge by the end of 2008, and construction starts in early 2009 to for a late 2010 completion.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:41 am ]
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Yes, there was a big Kommersant article on it that I saw (and forgot to post, sorry about that. If I can find it again I will post it). They mentioned the cost of the Perrot building beind prohibitive and said they have only ...well now only 6 weeks to find and agree on a new design. Gergiev is determined the timeline will remain the same. I have my doubts...

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:02 pm ]
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Here's the information about the cancellation of the current design from this Russian news source: ... cle343254/

There's also an English-language news source that also mentioned this:

Author:  bcx [ Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:23 pm ]
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A revised proposal (by a team of Canadian architects) for the new Mariinsky Theater has been approved.

Pictures (from the architects): ... ussia.html

Story (from the St Petersburg Times): ... %20theater

It looks like an improvement over the earlier French design, and bravo for the Canadians, but nothing will replace the wonderful original.

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