About the theatre
The legendary Alexandrinsky Theatre, fully titled as the National Drama Theatre of Russia (Alexandrinsky Theatre), is the oldest national theatre in Russia. Established by a special order of the Senate, signed on Saint Alexandre Nevsky day, August, 30 1756, by Peter the Great’s daughter Empress Elizabeth, it became the common ancestor of all future Russian theatres, so the date it was founded on is recognised as the Birthday of professional theatre in Russia. The Alexandrinsky Theatre foundation had also laid the grounds for Russian state policy towards theatrical art.
For the two hundred and fifty years of its existence, the Russian State Drama Theatre has always been the symbol of the Russian State. Since its foundation and until 1917 it used to be Russia’s main imperial theatre, with the Emperors taking great personal interest in its affairs.
In 1834, the Russian State Drama Theatre had moved to a magnificent new building, designed by the great Carlo Rossi and located in the very heart of Saint Petersburg’s main street Nevsky Prospect. The building was christened the Alexandrinsky Theatre after the wife of Emperor Nikolai I, Alexandra Fyodorovna, and has been part of the world’s theatre history ever since. The unique building, with its five-tier audience hall, enormous stage, Tsar’s lobby and the splendid façade which is one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg, is included into the world architectural treasures list protected by UNESCO.
The Alexandrinsky Theatre walls have seen and remembered such great Russian statesmen, politicians, military figures, playwrights, novelists, composers and poets such as A.S. Pushkin, M.Y. Lermontov, N.V. Gogol, I.S. Turgenev, F.M. Dostoevsky, L.N. Tolstoy, A.P. Chekhov, P.I. Chaikovsky, A.M. Gorchakov, S.Y. Vitte, V.A. Stolypin, K.G. Mannerheim as well as a number of royal persons from Europe.
It was here in the Alexandrinsky Theatre that practically every premiere of Russian classical theatre plays took place: from Woe from Wit by A.S. Griboyedov to the plays by A.N. Ostrovsky and A.P. Chekhov. The Alexandrinsky Theatre is a living schoolbook of the history of Russian theatrical art. Here is the stage that saw the work of famous Russian actors from V. Karatygin and A. Martynov to N. Simonov, N. Cherkasov, V. Merkuriev, I. Gorbachev and B. Freundlich. The stage was also graced by the talents of famous Russian actresses starting with E. Semenova, M. Savina (the founder of Russian Professional Theatre Union) and V. Komissarzhevskaya, and later E. Korchagina-Alexandrovskaya, E. Time and N. Urgant. Today the Alexandrinsky Stage is the workplace of S. Parshin, V. Smirnov, N. Marton, G. Karelina, I. Volkov, P. Semak, S. Smirnova, S. Sytnik, M. Kuznetsova and many other outstanding mature and young actors.
Throughout its history, the theatre has been home to such great directors as Vs. Meyerhold, L. Vivien, G. Kozintsev, G. Tovstonogov, and N. Akimov. Descriptions of the Alexandrinsky performances have been entered in all the world theatre encyclopedias. The theatre has been the place of work of such great artists as A. Benua, N. Altman and such outstanding composers as A. Glazunov, D. Shostakovich and R. Schedrin.
Since 2003, the theatre has been led by the Artistic Director Valery Fokin. Well-known in Europe, Valery Fokin is also the Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, and a several times Awardee of the Russian State Prize. Being the symbol of Russian national theatre, the Alexandrinsky Theatre takes pride of place among its colleagues – such as the oldest European national theatres of Comedie Francaise in Paris, Vienna’s Burgtheater, Deutsches Theater in Berlin and London’s Drury Lane.
The theatre boasts a unique collection of stage decorations, costumes, furniture, props, armour and a large museum collection worth showing in the most prestigious of exhibition galleries in Russia and abroad.
During the 2005/2006 season, the Alexandrinsky Theatre underwent a thorough reconstruction, which had both contributed to restoring its historical image and had at the same time given it one of the best state-of-the-art stages in the world.
The opening ceremony of the newly reconstructed Alexandrinsky Theatre took place on the day of celebrating Russia’s oldest drama theatre’s 250th birthday, on 30th August 2006. On the morning of that day, the Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga Vladimir had consecrated the new stage and auditorium and gave his blessing to the assembled actors, directors and stage workers. The Theatre of Glorified Masters exhibition, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Russian Theatre, opened in the Marble Palace the same afternoon. The opening ceremony of the new Alexandrinsky Stage crowned the celebration. The guest list included the Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga Vladimir, the Governor of Saint Petersburg Valentina Matvienko, the Plenipotentiary Presidential Deputy in the North-western region of Russia Ilya Klebanov and the director of the Federal Culture and Cinematograph Agency Mikhail Shvydkoy. The 250th anniversary of Russian theatre became an important event of state policy concerning the art of theatre. According to the President’s instruction # Pr-352 of March 2, 2004, the Order # 572-r of May 12, 2004 was issued by the Russian government concerning ‘the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Russian theatre.’ According to this decree, the Alexandrinsky Theatre was to host the main celebratory events throughout the whole year of 2006.
The 180th anniversary of the Alexandrinsky Theatre building was celebrated in November 2012.
The New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre was opened on May 15, 2013. The unique high-tech New Stage complex was designed by a Saint Petersburg architect Yury Zemtsov and built in the location of the theatre’s former workshops between the Ostrovsky Square and Fontanka Embankmen
The New Stage is a multilevel complex including 4 auditoriums of different sizes and a spacious 2-level lobby with the state-of-the-art lighting, sound, video and media equipment.
The New Stage Media Centre is an ideal location for meetings, workshops and film shows for 100 viewers. As it is equipped for internet and television broadcasting, a great number of New Stage events are broadcast on different online resources.
The New Stage is not only a state-of-the-art addition to the country’s oldest theatre that produces four or five premieres and more than 120 shows a season. During its three-year history, the New Stage has also gained the reputation as one of Saint-Petersburg universal educational centres. The New Stage is the popular place for meetings, workshops, concerts, film shows and exhibitions, hosting 250 events a year.
In the summer of 2016, another facility was added to the theatre: the Roof, which is a perfect location for meetings, poetry readings, concerts and film shows.
In August 2014, the Alexandrinsky Theatre was awarded the National Treasure status. It was included in the State Roster of the Most Valued Russian Federation Peoples’ Heritage.