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Entries / Hermitage Theatre

Hermitage Theatre

Categories / Architecture/Architectural Monuments/Public Buildings and Edifices
Categories / Art/Music, Theatre/Theaters, Concert Organizations

HERMITAGE THEATRE at 32 Dvortsovaya Embankment is a monument of 18th century architecture, is part of the complex of Hermitage buildings. It is the only 18th century theatre hall preserved in St. Petersburg. It was built according to the design of architect G. Quarenghi in 1783-87 on the site of the 3rd Winter Palace of Emperor Peter the Great. The hall's semicircular amphitheatre is 19 m in diameter and is decorated with coloured artificial marble. Along its perimeter are 10 niches with sculptures of Apollo and the Muses. Between 20 and 100 people might be invited to the Hermitage Theatre during the time of Catherine II. A deep wall was equipped with scenic machinery, allowing the setting up of full-scale plays with various effects. The first play, M.M. Sokolovsky's opera, Miller - Sorcerer, Cheat and Matchmaker, took place on 22 November 1785. Plays by Russian and Italian court troupes were staged at the Hermitage Theatre, as well as musicals and dramas. Catherine II premiered her won plays and operas, written according to her librettos took place there. The Hermitage Theatre was used for ceremonial plays in presence of diplomatic corps until the early 20th century. In 1894-96 wooden trussing was substituted by metal; in 1904 the foyer over the arch leading into the Old Hermitage was decorated (architect L.N. Benois). During the last large-scale restoration of the building in 1987-95, archaeological researchers preserved fragments of the Winter Palace of Peter the Great in the basement, making them part of the museum's collection. Today the theatre has been re-instituted as a venue for plays and musical performances.

References: Эрмитаж: История и архитектура зданий. Л., 1974; Авраменко С. И. Воспоминания об Эрмитажном театре. СПб., 1992; Ее же. Пять новелл Эрмитажного театра // Нева. 1996. № 3. С. 154-181.

Y. M. Piryutko.

Benois Leonty Nikolaevich
Catherine II, Empress
Peter I, Emperor
Quarenghi Giacomo
Sokolovsky Mikhail Matveevich

Dvortsovaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 32

Эрмитаж: История и архитектура зданий. Л., 1974
Авраменко С.И. Пять новелл Эрмитажного театра // Нева, 1996
Авраменко С.И. Воспоминания об Эрмитажном театре. СПб., 1992

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Hermitage Buildings (entry)