The Mariinsky Opera

Opera / Ballet

Biography

The Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera is one of the world’s greatest opera companies. It can trace its origins back to the Russian Imperial Opera, which in 1860 found a permanent residence at the Mariinsky Theatre which was built to house it. Such great Russian masterpieces as A Life for the Tsar, Ruslan and Lyudmila, Prince Igor, Boris Godunov and The Queen of Spades were composed for it.

The names of outstanding Mariinsky Theatre singers have gone down in the annals of the history of the performing arts. Maria Slavina, Fyodor Stravinsky, Medea and Nikolai Figner, Fyodor Chaliapin, Marianna Cherkasskaya, Ivan Yershov, Boris Shtokolov, Vladimir Atlantov and Sergei Leiferkus all sang here. In the first third of the 20th century Vsevolod Meyerhold worked with the opera company, staging Elektra, Tristan und Isolde, The Stone Guest, Le Rossignol and The Snow Maiden, while in the 1920s performers followed in eager pursuit of such avant-garde innovative works as Wozzeck, Der Rosenkavalier and The Love for Three Oranges.

In 1988 Valery Gergiev took over at the helm of the company. It was on his initiative that the opera repertoire expanded significantly ? today the playbill includes over eighty titles. While remaining the “home of Russian opera”, the Mariinsky Theatre possesses a rich collection of western European operas from the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, it is the only theatre in Russia which regularly performs operas by Wagner, including the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen; the opera company’s repertoire includes thirteen operas and the Requiem by Verdi and such immense oeuvres as Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, Hector Berlioz’ Les Troyens and Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace. With Gergiev’s appointment there emerged the tradition of performing all operas in their original languages.

Each season the Mariinsky Opera gives around three hundred performances. Singers appear in recital programmes and take part in concert performances of operas and in recordings on the Mariinsky label. The company’s singers include such internationally acclaimed performers as Albina Shagimuratova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Yevgeny Nikitin, Alexei Markov, Vladislav Sulimsky and Elena Stikhina.

The theatre’s recent opera premieres include Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, von Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchey the Immortal, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Verdi’s Falstaff. In the spring of 2019, in honour of a Rimsky-Korsakov anniversary held at the Mariinsky Theatre, all of the composer’s operas were performed, including such rarely heard works as Mlada and Pan Voyevoda. Last season saw the return to the company’s repertoire of Wagner’s Parsifal and Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed opera The Enchantress, the soloists moreover singing Berlioz’ La Damnation de Faust and Roméo et Juliette and Debussy’s Le Martyre de saint Sébastien.

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