The Russian State Pushkin Academy Drama Theater – the legendary Alexandrinsky Theater – is the oldest Russian national theater. It was founded by the Senate’s Decree, signed by Empress Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the Great) on August 30, 1756, the day of Saint Alexander Nevsky. This theater is the progenitor of all Russian theaters and the date of its foundation is the birthday of the Russian professional theater. Foundation of the theater gave a start to the Russian state policy in the field of theater arts.
The Russian State Drama Theater served as an attribute of the Russian state system for over two and a half centuries. In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries it was the main imperial theater; Russian emperors had been directly involved with its guidance.
Since 1832, the Russian State Drama Theater has resided in a magnificent building (built by a project of the great architect Carlo Rossi) in the very center of Nevsky avenue, the main thoroughfare of St. Petersburg. The building was named the Alexandrinsky Theater (in the honor of Alexandra Fedorovna, the spouse of Emperor Nikolay the First) and since then the name of Alexandrinsky theater has been tightly bound to the world theatrics history. The theater crowns a unique ensemble of Rossi’s buildings, which was named to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The theater has a 5-circle auditorium, a spacious stage, palace style lobbies, and a grandiose facade, which became one of the emblems of the Imperial Capital of Russia.
The walls of the Alexandrinsky remember the greatest public figures of the Russian state, politicians, military men, and people of arts. A. Pushkin, M. Lermontov, F. Dostoevsky, L. Tolstoy, A. Chekhov, P. Tchaikovsky, A. Gorchakov, S. Vitte, V. Stolypin, K. Mannerheim and numerous members of European royal families visited it.
Here, at the Alexandrinsky Theater, took place premieres of practically all plays of the Russian drama classics: from the “Woes of Wits” by A. Griboyedov to the plays by A. Ostrovsky and A. Chekhov. The Alexandrinsky Theater is a textbook of Russian theatrics. A number of renowned actors performed on its stage – from V. Karatygin and A. Martynov to N. Simonov, N. Cherkasov, V. Merkuriev, I. Gorbachev, and B. Freindlikh. Talents of famous Russian actresses had flourished on this stage – from E. Semyonova, M. Savina (founder of the Russian Union of Theater Artists), V. Komissarzhevskaya to E. Korchagina-Alexandrovskaya, E. Time, and N. Urgant. Today, the stage is home to such actors as S. Parshin, V. Smirnov, N. Burov, N. Marton, I. Volkov, A. Devotchenko, S. Smirnova, I. Voznesenskaya, M. Kuznetsova, K. Petrova and many others.
Outstanding theater directors, such as V. Meyerhold, L. Vivien, G. Kozintsev, G. Tovstonogov, and N. Akimov, worked at the theater. Today the theater is directed by an acclaimed director, People’s Artist of Russia, Laureate of State Awards Valery Fokin. Alexandrinsky’s productions are catalogued in all world theater encyclopedias. A whole number of great artists, such as A. Benua, K. Korovin, A. Golovin, N. Altma, and famous composers like A. Glazunov, D. Shostakovich, R. Shchedrin cooperated with the theater.
The Alexandrinsky Theater occupies an honorable place among the oldest national theaters of Europe, including the Comedie Francaise in Paris, the Burgtheater in Vienna, the Drury Lane in London, and the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, serving as a symbol of the Russian national theater.
The theater holds a unique collection of decoration sets, costumes, furniture, theater properties, and weapons — the richest museum stock that could be exhibited both in Russia, and abroad in the most prestigious exhibition premises.
Academician Dmitry Lihachev had not once mentioned in his speeches and writings that the Alexandrinsky Theater was the true national treasure of Russia.
During the season of 2005/2006, the Alexandrinsky Theater had undergone a general reconstruction, resulting in restoration of the historical image of the building’s interiors. At the same time, the Alexandrinsky will turn into one of the most technically perfect theater venues.
The grand opening of the reconstructed Alexandrinsky Theater took place on August 30, 2006, in the course of celebration of the 250th anniversary of the oldest state drama theater of Russia. The opening of the renovated Alexandrinsky stage became the culmination of the anniversary festivities and was held in the presence of the state leaders.
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