The Mikhailovsky Theater, which opened in St. Petersburg in 1833, combines classical traditions with the pursuit of creativity and bold experimentation. It is where some of the greatest operas of the 20th century had their world premieres, including Shostakovich's The Nose and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Prokofiev's War and Peace.
Until the early 1930s, the ballet ensemble of the Theater was featured only in operas and operettas. However, sometimes the ballet pieces in the operas were little jewels of choreography: for instance, the dances in the production of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel (1923) were created by the young Georgy Balanchivadze, better known as George Balanchine, the co-founder of New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Later legendary and pioneering ballets, which live on in the memory of several generations, began on the Mikhailovsky stage, such as Shostakovich's The Bright Stream, and Prokofiev's Boris the Tsar.
Vladimir Kekhman, the well-known entrepreneur, has been General Director of the Mikhailovsky Theater since 2007. Through his efforts, the Theater has reclaimed its crown as St. Petersburg's most prestigious musical theater. Today the Theater is rich and vibrant, without forgetting its imperial past or the best traditions of the 20th century.
In 2013, the Mikhailovsky Ballet celebrated its 80th anniversary, having earned itself devoted fans in Russia and around the world. From November 11 _23, discerning New Yorkers will have a chance to discover the brilliant St. Petersburg ballet company on the stage of the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
The company's leading soloists are world-renowned dancers associated with the greatest achievements of Russian ballet. Among them are phenomenal international stars, including Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, and Leonid Sarafanov, as well as well-known and much-lauded members of ballet's younger generation: Angelina Vorontsova, Oksana Bondareva, Anastasia Soboleva, Victor Lebedev, and Ivan Zaytsev.
Every performance in the autumn tour has been declared a must-see. "One of the most precious jewels in the classical ballet crown" (The Sunday Express); "a classic slice of the 19th-century supernatural" (The Evening Standard); British critics have showered Nikita Dolgushin's version of Giselle at the Mikhailovsky with praise. The Mikhailovsky Company performs the entire ballet, with its time-tested choreography, precise mise-en-scne, and abundant historical details, with "clear, devoted style" (Financial Times). The artistic talents of the Mikhailovsky's performers, blending technical mastery with personal charisma, are seen at their highest point in Giselle.
"The drums of revolution beat out once more in Petersburg;" the Financial Times review of The Flames of Paris after its premiere sounded like a victory march. This ballet, based on the French Revolution, was originally staged in 1932, and is often remembered as Stalin's favorite ballet. However, the Mikhailovsky's Ballet Master in Chief, Mikhail Messerer, has concentrated exclusively on the artistic aspect of the work, presenting Vasily Vaynonen's choreography as an expansion on the achievements of Russia's great choreographers, Petipa, Ivanov, and Gorsky.
The Times described Mikhail Messerer's production of Don Quixote as "Incredibly fresh and vibrant, it's a lusty rom-com," commenting that "everyone in the company, be they toreadors, dryads or gypsies, danced it for all it was worth."
Three Centuries of Russian Ballet is a unique combination of three one-act ballets, including Nacho Duato's Prelude. The Evening Standard described it best: "It's a meeting of mismatched styles and scenarios, as if dancers have wandered into each other's ballets." The multifaceted evening program features the Mikhailovsky company's full range: absolute classical virtuosity in Class Concert, choreographic melodrama in Le Halte de cavalerie, and contemporary reflections on Romantic ballet in Prelude.