Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Hermitage

Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Hermitage

Katya Boyarskaya is a long-time MIR tour manager, guide, and now director of MIR’s St. Petersburg office. She was born in St Petersburg into a theatrical family, graduating as a drama theater critic and historian from the College of Theatrical Arts. In a series on St. Petersburg’s famous theaters, Katya shares insider tips on one of her favorites, the Hermitage.

Katya Boyarskaya autographs her book on the Boyarsky family's theatrical dynasty <br>Photo credit: Katya Boyarskaya

Katya Boyarskaya autographs her book on the Boyarsky family’s theatrical dynasty
Photo credit: Katya Boyarskaya

Hermitage TheaterCatherine the Great was in the audience the first night the Hermitage Theater (Эрмитажный Театр) debuted to the world. That first show was a comic opera. Inspired, the Empress eventually wrote dozens of her own short morality plays that were dramatized here.

Almost 100 years after Catherine’s death, Czar Nicholas II ordered the renovation of the theater, with benches upholstered in red velvet. His mistress, the ballerina Kshesinskaya, was among those who performed in ballets, operas and plays in this little theater.

Today the theater is in use again, including summertime works by the Mariinsky Ballet and State Philharmonic Chamber Players. The theater celebrated its 229th anniversary in 2014.

Statues of Greek poets and playwrights are tucked into the Hermitage Theater exterior <br>Photo credit: Katya Boyarskaya

Statues of Greek poets and playwrights are tucked into the Hermitage Theater exterior
Photo credit: Katya Boyarskaya

The Hermitage Theater is part of the Hermitage Museum complex, located near the Neva River <br>Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

The Hermitage Theater is part of the Hermitage Museum complex, located near the Neva River
Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels

Katya’s Insider Tips
  • It’s worth it just to see the Hermitage Theater alone. Although the former royal theater of Catherine the Great, it’s actually one of the Hermitage Museum structures.
  • The summertime shows can be rather more touristy than at other theaters – often with a smaller cast, too. Yet the general level of show quality is still quite high.
  • Performances tend to be a bit shorter. However, tourists might prefer this after a long day of sightseeing in St. Petersburg.

Travel to St. Petersburg with MIRYou can visit many of St. Petersburg theaters on scheduled MIR tours to western Russia. You can also book a custom private journey.

(Top photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum. She shot this photo of the Hermitage Theater from the Neva River in St. Petersburg.)

PUBLISHED: July 16, 2014

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