Maly Theatre

The Mikhailovsky Theatre enjoyed a happy fate in the twentieth century, occupying a special place in the cultural life of Petrograd, Leningrad and St Petersburg. At one point intended to be a “laboratory of Soviet opera,” its aims and tasks were not always immediately clear. Perhaps that is why, like the town itself, the theatre changed its name on so many occasions.

From 1917 to 1920, the company was known simply as the former Mikhailovsky. In 1921, it was the Maly Petrograd State Academic Theatre, renamed the Leningrad State Academic Maly Opera Theatre in October 1926. In 1939, its full title became the Leningrad State Order of Lenin Academic Maly Opera Theatre. In 1963, the theatre received the official status of not only an opera, but also a ballet theatre – the Leningrad State Order of Lenin Academic Maly Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 1989, the Maly was again renamed, this time after Modest Mussorgsky. In 1991, when the former name of St Petersburg was restored to the city, the company became known as the St Petersburg Mussorgsky State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. Finally, in 2007, the theatre reverted to its original name of Mikhailovsky.

The Maly Opera and the Maly Ballet are indelibly linked to the some of the greatest names in Soviet musical theatre. These are composers Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry Kabalevsky and Gara Garayev, Rodion Shchedrin and Sergei Slonimsky; conductors Samuil Samosud and Boris Khaikin, Kirill Kondrashin and Eduard Grikurov, Alexander Dmitriyev and Yury Temirkanov; directors Vsyevolod Meyerhold and Nikolai Smolich, Alexei Kireyev and Emil Pasynkov, Emmanuel Kaplan and Stanislav Gaudasinsky; choreographers Fyodor Lopukhov and Leonid Lavrovsky, Boris Fenster and Leonid Jacobson, Igor Belsky and Konstantin Boyarsky, Oleg Vinogradov and Nikolai Boyarchikov; designers Alexander Golovin and Mikhail Bobyshov, Vladimir Dmitriyev and Simon Virsaladze, Valentina Khodasevich and Tatyana Bruni, Semyon Pastukh and Vyacheslav Okunev.

Smaller and cosier than the Mariinsky Theatre, the Maly stage did not permit the holding of vast pageants. Instead, its shows were noted for their experimental forms, expressive scenic action and close creative dialogue with the audiences. Throughout the twentieth century, the Mikhailovsky Theatre always strove towards a modern opera or ballet performance, contributing to some of the finest achievements in Russian musical and theatrical culture.

Random articles