CHAMBER VENUES OF THE MARIINSKY II
The Mariinsky II is a theatre and concert complex that hosts incredibly diverse events for smaller audiences as well as major productions. It is for just such chamber events that the complex is home to four chamber venues that have been named after composers whose lives and works are connected with the theatre – Modest Musorgsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky and Rodion Shchedrin.
Each hall has around one hundred and twenty seats. Such a format offers the opportunity for closer contact between performers and audiences, facilitating not just concerts of instrumental and vocal music but lectures, interactive sessions and film screenings too.
Access to the chamber venues is ensured by “democratic” prices – the average ticket cost is 300 roubles. Starting in the new season, the theatre will be running the project Open Wednesday – each week on Wednesday there will be open-access concerts in these chamber venues. According to the theatre’s Artistic and General Director Valery Gergiev, it is young people who will make up the greater part of audiences at the chamber venues of the Mariinsky II: “Our main target audience is students, though they now have a rival in the form of school pupils. And it would be good if school pupils had ‘rivals’ too – pre-schoolers.”
It is not just the audiences at these chamber venues that are “young” – the performers themselves will be young too.
According to maestro Gergiev, these chamber venues will see performances by pupils from music schools not just in St Petersburg but also in Vyborg, Pskov, Veliky Novgorod and other more remote Russian regions. The new theatre’s chamber venues will serve educational purposes on which maestro Gergiev and all of the theatre’s creative teams have been actively engaged in recent years.
The Prokofiev Hall is located on the first underground floor and generally hosts performances by pianists. It is not by chance that the Hamburg-based company Steinway & Sons was specially commissioned to produce a unique instrument for this chamber music venue. As well as pianists, the Prokofiev Hall hosts performances by both young and established soloists of the Mariinsky Orchestra in solo recitals and ensembles alike.
The Stravinsky Foyer, a chamber venue in the public area of the theatre, is located on the fourth floor. Here it is light and airy, and one special feature of this concert space is the high step-like rows of audience seating. As well as concerts, there are interactive educational programmes for children and young people, Sunday lectures and performances for audiences of all age categories in the Stravinsky Foyer.
Thanks to the unique way the space has been organised, the light and spacious Stravinsky Foyer is an ideal venue for theatre programmes.
Notably, the huge panorama windows of the venue look over Kryukov Canal and the house in which the great composer spent his childhood years.
The Shchedrin Hall is in great demand as a chamber venue. Like the Stravinsky Foyer, it is located on the fourth floor of the theatre; this hall plays host to concerts, film screenings, lectures and music lessons for both adults and the very youngest theatre-goers.
This venue is “very similar to an ultra-contemporary auditorium with the steep rise from the stalls and the huge windows that soar upwards from the floor to halfway up to the ceiling. From below one can see – but not hear – life passing by on Offitserskaya Street which, combined with musical gems, creates a mood of peculiar contemplativeness.” (Vecherny Peterburg).
The opening of the hall in 2013 was attended by Rodion Shchedrin himself, whose works are broadly represented on the playbill of the Mariinsky II. His operas are performed here – The Lefthander, specially commissioned for the opening of the inauguration of the new theatre, as well as Dead Souls, The Enchanted Wanderer and Boyarina Morozova (in concert). The theatre’s ballet repertoire includes Anna Karenina, The Little Humpbacked Horse and Carmen-Suite.
In line with Valery Gergiev’s policy, the Shchedrin Hall will host performances by students of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers who are preparing for their debuts on the main stage. Here there are also video-screenings of the theatre’s productions.
The Musorgsky Hall is located on the fifth floor. It is named after the great composer who was particularly enthralled with the music of the poetic word, and it is generally intended for vocal concerts. Here there are frequent programmes by soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers, directed by Larisa Gergieva. The Musorgsky Hall also hosts the series Portrait of a Soloist which sees leading singers of the Mariinsky Opera perform recital programmes.
Each of the chamber venues has a particular location, tasks of its own and unique and special appearance, though they are all united by the musical traditions of the Mariinsky Theatre.
In the words of Valery Gergiev, the names of the composers in whose honour the chamber venues have been named “speak for themselves. These halls should embody a living link with these composers. The music of Prokofiev, Mussorgsky and Stravinsky is alive in our theatre, and Rodion Shchedrin is with us today.”