Mariinsky Theatre Map P

"3 326 4141; www.mariinsky.ru; Teatralnaya pi 1; tickets R300-2000; S box office 11am-7pm, performances 7pm; (M) Sennaya PI

The most celebrated and most spectacular venue for ballet and opera in St Petersburg, the Mariinsky Theatre is an attraction in its own right, whether or not you manage to get tickets to see a performance. Known as the Kirov Ballet during the Soviet era, the dance company confusingly still tours the world under this name, as its Soviet-era association with Nureyev, Baryshnikov et al brings more ticket sales!

Despite this odd tie to the past, the current general and artistic director Valery Gergiev has led the venue bravely into the modern world. In 2004, plans were finally signed off to build a new theatre, known as Mariinsky II (see p57), behind the current building, attracting praise and derision from the usual quarters. The new venue is expected to be completed by 2009, although the original theatre will continue to function throughout the construction period. Recent artistic successes include the staging of Dmitry Shostakovich's first opera, The Nose.

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