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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

The subject Index
Hermitage Buildings (entry)


Bakst L.S., (1866-1924), artist

BAKST (Rosenberg) Lev Samoilovich (1866-1924), painter, graphic artist, and stage designer. He was an irregular student at the Academy of Arts in 1883-87 and private academies in Paris in 1890s. He became a member of the Academy of Arts in 1914

Catherine II (1729-1796), Empress

Catherine II (1729-1796, St. Petersburg), Empress (from 1761), wife of Emperor Peter III (1745). Nee Sophie Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst. Lived in St. Petersburg from 1744, coming to power by dethroning her husband (1762)

Concert Halls (entry)

CONCERT HALLS appeared in St. Petersburg in the late 18th century. Earlier, musicians arranged paid concerts in palaces of grandees, theatres, and taverns. The first documented series of public concerts refers to the concerts given by G

Dvortsovaya Embankment

DVORTSOVAYA EMBANKMENT (Palace Embankment), called Verkhnaya Naberezhnaya Street or First Verkhnaya Embankment beginning in 1738; in the 1740s-90s, it was known as Millionnaya Embankment; from 1923 to 1944 it was called Devyatogo Yanvarya Embankment


HERMITAGE, State Museum (32-38 Dvortsovaya Embankment) is one of the biggest museums in the world, exhibiting art as well as cultural and historical objects. It consists of 5 inter-connected buildings: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage

Hermitage Buildings (entry)

HERMITAGE BUILDINGS. Hermitages were compulsory for all large court estates such as Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo built as detached pavilions for confidential meetings from the early 18th century

Imperial Theatres

IMPERIAL THEATRES (in the 18th century court theatres, in the 19th century also called public theatres), originally intended to entertain the Imperial family, and to entertain and educate the public

Konstantin Konstantinovich, (1858-1915), Grand Prince

KONSTANTIN KONSTANTINOVICH (1858, Strelna - 1915, Pavlovsk), Grand Prince, Infantry General (1907), Adjutant General (1901), honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1900). Son of Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolaevich

Krasovsky A.F. (1848-1918), architect

KRASOVSKY Alexander Fedorovich (1848-1918), architect. In 1865-70, he studied at the architectural department of Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1871-72, he went on to study at the St

Quarenghi G. (1744-1817), architect

QUARENGHI Giacomo (1744-1817), architect, representative of Neoclassicism. Native of Italy. From 1761 (according to the other data sources, from 1763) studied painting and architecture in Rome. At the end of 1779, he came to St

Semenova E.S., (1786-1849), actress

SEMENOVA Ekaterina Semenovna (married name Princess Gagarina) (1786 - 1849, St. Petersburg), actress. Graduated from the Petersburg Drama School (1805). Made her debut on the professional stage in 1803

Winter Canal

WINTER CANAL was dug from the Palace Embankment to the Moika river embankment by the contractor V. Ozerov (228 meters long, about 20 meters wide, average waterflow of 2m3/s) in 1718-19

Winter Palaces

WINTER PALACES. The first Winter Palace, "a small house of Dutch design ", was constructed in March of 1708 for Tsar Peter the Great on the left bank of the Neva River in a row of the houses for Admiralty department officials