A simple yellow building on the Arts Square in St. Petersburg, the Mikhailovsky Theater is often overlooked in favor of the more popular Mariinsky Theater. But its famous cousin should not deter people from attending performances or even simply admiring the theater, for the Mikhailovsky's history and productions are no less amazing.
Like the Mariinsky, the Mikhailovsky Theater was established by royal decree. It was not until after the 1917 revolution that the Mikhailosvky developed its own theater company. Prior to this it staged performances using the Mariinsky's company, a company of French performers, or the Alexandrinsky's company. The Mikhailovsky had a booming French influence, with numerous famous French actors as residents and the works of French authors in production.
Under the reign of the Bolsheviks, the French influence was forced out and a more Russian influence was brought in. Its name was changed to Maly Operny, and again changed in 1989 to Modest Mussorgsky. From the 1920s it staged a number of excellent performances, including the opera War and Peace by Prokofiev. In 2007, the theater returned to being the Mikhailovsky, and was taken over by a new director who would transform this theater into one of St. Petersburg's best.
Vladimir Kekhman broke theater norms when he took the appointment of General Director of the Mikhailovsky. A Russian businessman, Kekhman earned much concern when he accepted the position normally given to people with artistic backgrounds. But Kekhman's mind for business has transformed the Mikhailovsky, from his donation of more than $30 million dollars to renovate the theater to his appointment of leading artists to rejuvenate the productions. The Mikhailovsky is now a booming metropolitan art scene that stages numerous amazing performances each year.
Everything about this theater is modern and magical. Its white and red accents, chandeliers dripping with crystals, soft ceiling frescoes, and tiers of seats make guests feel like modern royalty. Partaking of a performance in the Mikhailovsky is to partake of some of Russia's finest ballets and operas, and to experience such magnificent productions as The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and Don Quixote. Theater lovers and those unfamiliar with theater alike will adore the Mikhailovsky!