CriticalDance Forum

The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:41 pm ]
Post subject:  The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Last I heard the new Mariinsky II building will open this April/May for performances. Some pictures (with critical comments in Russian) are posted here of the current status of the structure:

They give you a good idea of the structure and how much it contrasts with the historical buildings surrounding it.

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Thanks for this, Catherine.

Good grief, it's an eyesore! I'm sure that many visitors will assume that it's the warehouse for the main theater, especially when viewed from the south. Hopefully it will be prettier inside.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Waxing poetically, Natalia, I've been watching the shell of it go up for so long, it's almost like an old friend.

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Natalia, the interior should be quite nice with excellent acoustics, good vision from all seats, comfortable and friendly. This is what I believe this architectural company is known for.

It should also have fine, new facilities for the artists and staff and be very good functionally for productions. And since it was designed by a firm from Canada it should be able to handle the Russian winters quite well.

As I've written often before, I'm still fascinated by some of the drawings for the prize winning and then replaced golden shell design. But this is only my personal opinion and apparently understandable practical considerations, etc. resulted in the new design.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening
(2 1/2 minute video clip showing the architects' intent)

The second picture down does show some nice linear continuity between the historic theater (green) in the foreground and the new theater behind. This is the view that most folks will get as they move along the busy avenue in front of the historic theater and is probably the nicest. (This picture is of the side street.)

From this angle the horizontal floor lines of both theaters seem to align perfectly and the domed roof of the old theater (far left) is echoed by the glass, domed roof of the new. The continued flatness (or 'plainness') of the new theater does not seem to compete with the decorative beauty of the old theater. These are qualities that I think will register well subconsciously. Again a lot will probably depend on how the new building is lit at night.

Pictures three and four show two huge windows on the second floor (far left) which hopefully will be where the dancers practice. Flooded with daylight they should be very pleasant work spaces. What might have been nice is if the studio windows could have been located where the public could look in.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

In the New York Times, Alison Smale interviews Valery Gergiev about the Mariinsky 2 Theatre.

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Linda Lentz previews the opening of the Mariinsky 2 Theatre for the Architectural Record.

Architectural Record

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

For those who want to see pictures, this is a nice "photo reportage" all in one place:

The first/top photos are of the new theatre.

The photos at the bottom of the page are all of the current Mariinsky. Photo #4 is what you see behind the upstage scrim if you walk back there. The sets they show are in preparation for Ratmansky's Anna Karenina; Andrey Ermakov is in one shot.

The article states the current theatre will not be closed "sooner than" 3 years from now: 2016.

What is unclear is how the ballet will operate at that point. They have 5 studios plus a rehearsal stage (identical to the main stage in dimensions) in the current theatre. The new building has only 1 studio for the ballet. That's not adequate for even the smallest company, esp when rehearsing more than 1 ballet at 1 time. Additionally, where will the supposed 60 new dancers they plan to hire be placed/rehearsed when the old theatre closes. A lot has not been organized, to say the least.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Catherine, I haven't looked at the pictures yet, but still have a few questions that maybe you can answer. I assume that there are other studios in the new building. Do you have any idea what they will be used for and could they be used for ballet ?

Added comment:

After a quick look at the photos, the interior is definitely 'modern' even perhaps 'streamlined' in comparison to the old theatre. The public spaces do seem quite beautiful and elegant. I do like the warm feeling that the wood cladded performance area has, again in the context of a modern building. The architectural firm is know for friendliness and comfort. Also I've read in the Architectural Record article, referred to in the post above, that the performance area has been tested for sight lines and acoustics and has been rated very highly.


The 5 1/2 minute video clip included in the Architectural Record article above is rather interesting. You don't have to read too carefully between the lines to realize that there may have been a lot of 'drama' involved in the building of the new theatre. (A cute comment in the video clip from Jack Diamond, the architect (80 years old !), to the effect that he thought that he had a lot of energy, but now considers himself a turtle compared to Valery Gergiev.)

In any case we now have a Mariinsky II and hopefully it will add substantially to the wonderful world of the performing arts that so many of us love and associate with the Mariinsky.


For anyone who would like a massive infusion of Mariinsky II images, both imagined and realized, Google "Mariinsky 2 Images".

Author:  PenneallaNorma [ Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

What's interesting is that it looks like they have a similar curtain for the new theatre judging from one of the pics. Since the Mariinsky II is almost a break from tradition it surprised me that they installed a similar curtain, but I guess they want to connect it to the past as well in some minor ways.

I wonder if this new theatre was mainly planned to enhance opera. Opera tends to need 3 dimensional sets and lots of backstage machinery/equipment to change massive sets. The need for a new theatre seems to be much more important for the opera side of things, since most ballets need to have a cleared stage for the most part.

I know they plan to do ballet there also, but I think Gergiev's emphasis was on making a better opera staging situation. He might not care whether the ballet has what it needs backstage. Or maybe most rehearsals for ballets will continue in the old theatre. Who knows? In any new construction things are forgotten, because nobody ever asks the people who are actually going to use the building what the needs and wants are. Usually administration and architects and construction people do all the planning and decisions. And then you'll have a big disaster like not enough stalls for women's bathrooms, etc. In this day and age knowing the problems of women's bathroom lines, architects should know to make the women's bathrooms larger and more plentiful. It is a major problem worldwide in every theatre. I actually feed bad that I can zip in and out of the men's room so easily, and I don't blame some women who decide to invade the men's room at times. Only problem is that we don't tend to have many stalls and we get in and out quickly mainly because of plenty of urinals (usually).

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Buddy, to your question, unless something is added or rearranged, the ballet has only 1 large studio in the new theatre. It is as large as, or larger than, the size of the stage. At any given hour today in the current theatre, the ballet is rehearsing in 5 studios at once, solo and pas de deux rehearsals, as well as massive corps de ballet scenes. The studios are busy from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. even during performance hours. When they do close the current theatre in 2016, there will be a real shortage of rehearsal space for the dancers.

There are two smaller studios available in the new theatre (in the basement I think?) but those have low ceilings - therefore, no pas de deux/lifts can be rehearsed in them.

The project is, as PeneallaNorma pointed out, Gergiev's brainchild and was not designed to take into consideration the needs of the ballet troupe (see also: Unraked stage). He has shown a repeat lack of consideration historically speaking for the needs of the ballet troupe - the latest being that there is no need for them to tour, they should stay at home and perform 365 days per year so that the Opera can go on tour. The logic defies all of us.

However, that said, there are still major construction oversights in how the new theatre will address the *opera's* needs and that is the most shocking issue. There are some sets that I am told cannot fit in the new theatre -- first of all there is no space around the outside of the building, as there is on the south side of the Mariinsky, for trucks to load and unload stage sets. That poses a serious logistical issue meaning that certain operas will not be *able* to be performed in the new theatre unless new sets (?) presumably are created.

Penealla I also noted the copy of the curtain but it looks like a screenprint rather than an actual curtain. The Mariinsky's curtain has hand-sown gold thread (and used to have jeweled draggees on it) and intricate work. The new version looks more like a flat copy or photograph of the original, untextured.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Thanks, Catherine, for your answers.

The new building had to be put on the already built foundations of the previously proposed and quite different, unused design, so certain aspects of the new building were out of the control of the current architects. I'm not sure if this effects your evaluation of the new building's performance for the opera.

Is it also possible that this was taken into account, when you say that some operas can't be performed in the new building because the sets won't fit. Maybe it was assumed with the new design that certain performances would only be possible in the old theatre. I do gather from the sense of surprise in your comment that this is an unexpected outcome.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Catherine, I guess that I would want to add, that even with some of the 'comings and goings' in the world of the Mariinsky ballet (and the Russian ballet in general), it has produced some of the greatest moments of Enchantment that I've ever experienced.

Author:  Cygne [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

I've seen the facades and interior on various sites and links, and I've read the impressions of native Petersburgers online; in the media and received messages from friends on the ground and on site. There's no question that this will be a state of the art facility, but which entity will benefit the most from it? Catherine stated that there's no room for the Ballet to operate. One studio, (with a glass ceiling), will not be sufficient. Moreover, hiring additional dancers will only exacerbate the problem. Surely, one would think that for all the billions spent on this project, the architectural, logistical and demographic issues of both the Ballet and the Opera would have been addressed. Maestro Gergiev had the final authority on the architectural designs of M2. It seems to me that he had the Opera in mind for this new facility, and that the Ballet and its needs were incidental.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Mariinsky "II" Theatre - 2013 opening

Maclean's Magazine has a feature on Canadian architect Jack Diamond's design of the Mariinsky II Theatre.


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