Hermitage theatre is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Russia. It was built by the Italian architect G.Quarenghi in the times of the Empress Catherine the Great. Ballet performances at the Imperial Hermitage theatre are important events in the theatrical life of St. Petersburg. The stage of this theatre is distinguished by a special beauty, graceful decorations, and a unique historical tie to the Imperial past of the Hermitage that hosted performances attended by Catherine the Great. Today the best artists of St. Petersburg and all of Russia perform here.
The Hermitage Theatre is one of the buildings in the complex of the Hermitage museum. It was built on the site of the former Winter Palace of Peter I. The construction of the theatre is functionally independent of the main building and is connected to the basic court building by an arch. The building was constructed between 1711-1723. The theatre was built later in 1783-1785 during the reign of Catherine the Great. The architect was Giacomo Quarenghi, who built around 30 of the most beautiful buildings and structures in the city.
The decoration of the theatre and is unique and represents a classical masterpiece of palace architecture of the XVIII century. The small court theatre was built to contain only 250 spectators as it was intended for the imperial family and selected court nobles. It was built to ensure that every seat was the "best in the house." The construction of the hall though small, resulted in the most beautiful venues for any performance. Thea auditorium, is exemplified by grace and the magnificence of the decor and furnishings. A deep amphitheater reminiscent of an antique architectural principle is marked by proportions harmoniously combined with the lines of marble half-columns framing a semicircular hall. A small pit of three rows of seven armchairs for honorary guests is arranged before a stage. Behind a balustrade separating the stage from the auditorium, there are some more lines of seats and two lateral boxes. The walls of the auditorium are trimmed with marble and are decorated with classical sculptures of Apollo and the nine muses. There are bas-reliefs with images of known poets and musicians that further embellish the beauty of the theater.
The seats of the armchairs are upholstered by red velvet and the floors are covered with carpets. Unique lusters softly illuminating the hall from a lowered ceiling add to the ambiance of the surroundings. The architectural theme of the auditorium of the Hermitage embodies the strictest classical forms of the canons of classical architectural construction. Venerable architects of many countries of the world come to study immortal works of the great master Giacomo Quarenghi.
Before the stage an open orchestral pit is separated from the hall by a balustrade. The geometrical parities of the area of the hall and the arrangement of the depth of scenic space have no equal. While not wide the stage is rather deep and it allows for the arrangement of the needed various sets and provides artists sufficient for space for the staging of ballet performances. The auditorium is unique, it is small in volume and is so perfectly located that theatrical field glasses are not required. Everything occurring on the stage is easily seen from any seat. The hall has such natural perfect acoustics, that the sounds of music are precise and clear without distortions.
Today the hall of the Hermitage theatre and all its premises are completely reconstructed. The decor of the hall, lines of armchairs, ceiling, illumination and acoustics are restored exactly as it used to be. Modern scenic equipment, sound amplifiers and light installations with computer usage, and a perfectly gracefully weaved curtain make this unique gem so beautiful it must be seen. The Hermitage theatre is the largest pearl in the necklace of treasures of the Hermitage.
Address of the theatre: Saint Petersburg, Dvortsovaya (Palace) Emb., 34 Metro stations - Admiralteyskaya, Gostiny dvor - Nevsky prospect Entrance to the theatre from the Dvortsovaya Emb. near canal of Zimnyaya kanavka