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The Hermitage Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in Russia, was built by order of Catherine the Great in 1782-1785 to a design by the architect Giacomo Quarenghi. It was constructed in the austere Neoclassical style on the site of what was once Peter I's Winter Palace. Its unusual auditorium was designed to resemble an amphitheatre, the walls and columns decorated with coloured imitation marble. Statues of Apollo and the nine Muses are placed in niches, with bas-relief portraits of famous musicians and poets above them.

The first season in the Hermitage Theatre opened on November 16, 1785, with a comic opera. Performances were held two or three times a week and all St Petersburg theatre groups - Italian, Russian, French, German and the ballet troupe - participated in court performances, many of them with a libretto written by the Empress herself. A great number of celebrated artists, writers and musicians worked for the Hermitage Theatre.

After the Revolution in 1917, the Soviet director Vsevolod Meyerhold made an unsuccessful attempt to revive the Theatre, but it was gradually transformed into a lecture and conference hall for the State Hermitage Museum. In the early 1980s, the decision was taken to undertake major repairs and restoration of the entire building. In the course of the reconstruction, modern equipment was installed, including that necessary for simultaneous translation (up to five languages at any one time), a film projector with reverse projection, and computerized light control equipment. Since completion of the reconstruction, the Theatre has been used not only for scholarly purposes - lectures, seminars, conferences - but has also functioned once more as a true theatre, with plays and concerts accessible to the public. Musical festivals are organized and conducted in the Hermitage Theatre, and there are now traditional performances by graduating students of the famous Vaganova College of Ballet. Lovers of classical music can attend performances of the State Hermitage's own orchestra, St Petersburg Camerata.

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The Hermitage
 
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Related Links:
The official homepage of the State Hermitage Museum: www.hermitagemuseum.org

Complete playbill of all St. Petersburg,Russia theatres, shows, concerts, etcComplete playbill of all St. Petersburg,Russia theatres, shows, concerts, etc. !
World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights". Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights".
Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)

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