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St. Petersburg's Mariinsky ballet and opera house gets its public unveiling

May 6, 2013

A cultural building project ten years in the making got its public debut when the Mariinsky theater company debuted Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta" in the newly finished Mariinsky ballet and opera house.  Known at the Mariinsky II, the new structure is an addition to the original 1,600-seat Mariinsky that opened in 1860 and the 1,200-seat concert hall that was added in 2006. The newest iteration of the structure now contains a new 2,000-seat theater complex, a simple blonde wood interior and the latest advances in acoustics technology. 

"Russia is seen very often as a country that thinks, but not always deeply enough, and acts maybe not always in the right way," said Mariinsky theater director  Valery Gergiev. "The whole world makes mistakes, Russia included. And the whole world makes good things, thanks God, Russia included."

The glass encased building has been criticized as being overly modern and too bland by some critics who also balk at the $460 million price tag. Naysayers were nowhere in sight at the theater's gala opening which commenced with remakrs from  Russian President Vladimir Putin and featured a performance by internationally known tenor Placido Domingo as well as native talents like soprano Anna Netrebko and ballerina Diana Vishneva.

Putin has said the Mariinsky II will hopefully be one of many regional theater constructions across the nation. 

Opera fans, architecture critics and fans of Russian ballet have a lot to discuss with the new theater opening, an activity made easier by picking up and international calling card


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