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Have any of you been to Moscow or St. Petersburg to see the ballet there?


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I am thinking of holidaying there -- despite the visa hassles-- just to see the Mariinsky and Bolshoi perform in their home theatres!

Has anyone here been lucky enough to do so? How is it? Is it different to seeing them perform at Covent Garden?

 

I notice the Mariinsky tours the UK much more rarely than the Bolshoi...

 

 

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It is lovely to see these companies on their home territory, especially the 'old' Mariinsky Theatre and the main Bolshoi Theatre.

 

Booking tickets online is easy and there are back-up services by e-mail if you have any problems.

 

An added bonus is that both Moscow and St Petersburg are amazing cities to explore.

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I have! Ironically, I saw the Bolshoi at the Mariinsky Theatre, but this was a long time ago, in the days when you had to have an Intourist guide with you everywhere you went, she even slept in our rail sleeper carriage, and would probably have come in the bathroom with us if she could have, but it was an amazing experience. I watched Bolshoi Babylon the other night, and nothing has changed. Imagine fashions of the seventies and lots of crimplene!

 

Do go, I would recommend St. Petersburg over Moscow, stunningly beautiful, and with the added benefit of the amazing works of art at the Winter Palace.

 

From the pattern over the last few years, I believe that the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky alternate coming to the ROH each summer.

Edited by cavycapers
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I went to St. Petersburg last year. I was there for three nights and saw the Maryinsky on each of those nights, including the best performance of La Bayadere that I have ever seen. During the days we explored that beautiful city, and even walked across the frozen Nevsky river. As it was February the Hermitage was practically empty. A truly wonderful experience all round, and I highly recommend a trip there!

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Funnily enough I had my first ballet experience at The Mariinksy on a Day Trip from the UK!!! It was amazing. St Petersburg is a beautiful city which we toured and then saw a fabulous triple bill ballet in the evening then flew back to the UK.  I don't think Transun do those day trips anymore sadly. I returned 2 years later for a proper 5 day holiday and saw Giselle at the Mariinsky but that was not so good as I was in Stalls seat, no rake and a big head in front. The first time I was in stalls circle and it was great. I loved the Winter Palace within the Hermitage and do visit Tsarskoe Selo to see the Amber Room and the Peterhof as well - they are so huge they make Buckingham Palace look like a cottage!!

 

I would SO love to visit Moscow and see the Bolshoi as well as the Treasury at The Kremlin and St Basils.

 

Silly fact - Did you know they weigh the ice cream  - or they did in 2002 - at the Mariinsky good idea I say! 

 

Anyone ever done a DIY trip to Moscow - was it easy enough to arrange an invitation via hotel?  Did you feel safe?  In St Petersburg the door men at the hotel had guns under their coats!!

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I went to St. Petersburg last year. I was there for three nights and saw the Maryinsky on each of those nights, including the best performance of La Bayadere that I have ever seen. During the days we explored that beautiful city, and even walked across the frozen Nevsky river. As it was February the Hermitage was practically empty. A truly wonderful experience all round, and I highly recommend a trip there!

Sounds absolutley magical Sim!

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I went to St. Petersburg last year. I was there for three nights and saw the Maryinsky on each of those nights, including the best performance of La Bayadere that I have ever seen. During the days we explored that beautiful city, and even walked across the frozen Nevsky river. As it was February the Hermitage was practically empty. A truly wonderful experience all round, and I highly recommend a trip there!

 

Who was dancing in La Bayadere, Sim? My last Mariinsky Theatre experience featured Oxana Skorik, Vadim Muntagirov  :) and Ekaterina Osmolkina.

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not a useful reply but this prompted a memory - I went to Leningrad as it was then thirty years ago having just left university.  We went in on the train from Helsinki, which was sealed as soon as it left and rapidly became strewn with comatose Finns who had immediately availed themselves of vodka at Soviet prices.  I remember the city as very beautiful and we were perfectly free to wander round.  One evening we happened across a smallish theatre with a ballet on and just bought tickets on the spot and went in, knowing nothing about ballet at the time and just on a whim. I remember that it was a contemporary, abstract ballet and very sensual - it overturned all our young-laddish preconceptions.  I have no idea now what it was or where we went, but it made a huge impact at the time!

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I went a very long time ago. I found buying tickets for the Bolshoi very easy. There was a box office outside, the people spoke enough English to sell you a ticket. They had the seating plan in plain sight and I just pointed to where I'd like to sit. Being a foreigner, I had to buy two tickets - a ticket for the performance and the special "rip-off the foreigners" extra ticket. Hey, it's all fine - they were up front about charging you extra, and it still came to about £10 for a seat in the circle. I think the ROH was charging £60 then. There were plenty of touts selling tickets too, but I didn't bother with them.
 
In St Petersburg, I couldn't see the Kirov (they were in London at the time). I asked the tour guide if there was any ballet on and she booked me tickets at the Alexandrinsky Theatre.

 

I was on a package tour but I booked some extra days, so I had been in Moscow for three days before the tour arrived. I met the tour guide but since i'd done every thing she had planned, I didn't do anything with the group. They knew that there was an extra person on the tour but we only met up on the overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg. Once in St Petersburg, I did my own thing. On the first day, they went to Peterhof by bus, while I went to the Hermitage. On the next day, they went to the Hermitage and I went to Peterhof on the Meteor hydrofoil, which I arranged myself - front up at the dock and buy a ticket. I think that I had the better deal.

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Who was dancing in La Bayadere, Sim? My last Mariinsky Theatre experience featured Oxana Skorik, Vadim Muntagirov  :) and Ekaterina Osmolkina.

 

It was Shklyarov and Tereshkina, with Matvienko as Gamzatti.  The next night was Yermakov/Kondaurova/Chebykina.  They were good, but my gosh, that first cast was something really special and totally terrific.  The first night was La Sylphide but that didn't do much for me...it wasn't really their thing. 

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Anyone ever done a DIY trip to Moscow - was it easy enough to arrange an invitation via hotel?  Did you feel safe?  In St Petersburg the door men at the hotel had guns under their coats!!

 

Many times, but the visa thing was never easy and I gave up some years ago after the occasion when my visa arrived less than 24 hours before departure.  The agency had also booked me on a separate flight to my travelling companion.  In addition I was charged a huge surcharge as punishment for not holding a British passport.  These days I find out where the companies are dancing in Europe and go there instead.

 

Moscow is fairly safe but you will need to know some Russian if you go alone.  Unless you are a seasoned traveller it might be better to join a tour rather than opting for independent travel, also bear in mind the hotels in central Moscow are very expensive and the cheaper options are further out.  The metro is brilliant and cheap but don't forget all the signs are in Cyrillic so some knowledge of Russian is essential just to use public transport, ask directions etc.

 

I've always considered Moscow more Russian than St Petersburg, but it has colder winters than St Petes and I would strongly advise people to avoid winter and spring.

Edited by MAB
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I have been to both Moscow and St. Petersburg. As others have pointed out, it is much easier to travel to St. Petersburg as it is much westernized city with many tourists and many signs are in English. But you have to keep in mind that most Russians do not speak English. St. Petersburg is a beautiful  place with many places to visit, such as the the Hermitage, the many gorgeous cathedrals, the Russian Museum and so on. The historic Mariinsky Theatre is beautiful but the seats are not raked much so I would recommend balcony seats to have a good view. It is quite away from the center of attraction so it would be better to use bus for transportation. The Mikhailovsky Theatre is in a much convenient place close to the Nevsky main area, a modest theatre but performances were brilliant. I did not feel much danger when I was there but I read a report on the Ballet Alert forum that one of our fellow balletomanes were mugged on her return from the Mariinsky.

 

Moscow is, as MAB pointed out, the signs are in Cyrillic so it is not easy for first-time tourists to move around. It is a huge city compared to St. P and very Russian. But there are great places to visit such as Kremlin, Red Square, Treychakov and Pushkin museums (and more). You have to queue a long time to get tour tickets for the Treasury and Artillery at Kremlin so I din't have enough time. The metro is gorgeous to watch as architecture. I was overwhelmed by the love the Russian people have to their art. In spite of some difficulties I do recommend to travel to Russia if you love ballet.  

 

As for the visas and invitations, there might be slight differences as I am a Japanese, but we also need visas, and I requested visa support to the hotel I was staying and had to pay some surcharge for that. (so you have to fix which hotels you are staying, and your schedule quick) They will send you a voucher in PDF style, then you fill in the forms on the website of the Russian Embassy and go to the embassy for application with your passport. So you will need at least a few days to arrange them (of course there are some travel agents that will do it for you) 

 

Last time I went to St.P was in the end of April but it was still cold and I was right to bring a down coat and gloves, scarves with me. 

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I have been many times to St Petersburg, starting when it was still Leningrad.  I've only been a couple of times to Moscow.  It is definitely worth going with a group for your first visit, because the guided tour of the 'sights' at least helps you to place everything and all the necessary documentation is dealt with for you.  Getting an independent travel visa is a nightmare.  If you deal with the Russian Embassy in London, be prepared for a long, long queue.  You have to wait in line on the street for the heavily secured gate to open - and the last time I went, admittedly a few years ago - the gate was manned by a leftover from the Soviet era (when I first encountered him) with attitude to match.  The gates shut at whatever time is scheduled, whether or not the queue has all got through.  You put your application in and then have to go back and repeat the whole procedure to pick up the visa.  But once you are in Russia, the experience is absolutely wonderful.  I do speak some Russian and can read Cyrillic, so that definitely made things easier.  I also agree with trog that the boat trip to Peterbhof is well worth doing - as is the boat trip on the canals in St. Petersburg. 

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As this is thread for Russian ballet lovers, thought I'd just post a reminder that the Kirov's Cardiff performances are less than a month away.  I've booked my tickets and hotel and am counting down the days.

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My only knowledge of being in Russia is travelling from Paris to Moscow two times there and back via Aeroflot. Stunning views[??] of the inside of Sheremetyevo Airport at eleven o`clock at night. First time would have been 1988. Glasnost and Perestroika were all the rage and you could buy souvenirs with these slogans written on them in the airport. I bought a CCCP T Shirt in black with the red Hammer and Sickle sign. Still have it. The inside label says O`Neills Made in Ireland. I kid you not. Were were all sitting around for about three hours,waiting for our connecting flight to Tokyo. There was a dingy cafe open. We ordered what looked like Coke. I asked the woman for a coke. She scowled at me and said,"It`s Russian Coke". I smiled nicely at her and said that would be fine. It tasted vile.To amuse ourselves we sang Beatles songs; mainly because we thought they wouldn`t approve. There seemed to be nobody else in the airport except us from our flight. There was a soldier with a large gun on duty. He was tall ,blond and gorgeous. We kept giggling and looking at him. Then one of us asked him if we could stand next to him and take his photo. The poor lad looked absolutely terrified. He shook his head and said ,"No photos". When we all went into the toilets ,immediately after us followed a woman pretending to be mopping the floor. It was so obvious she was listening in to everything we were saying. On the flight all the stewardesses wore 1970`s looking bright blue eye shadow. They asked us if we wanted to read a newspaper in Ruskie or whatever English is in Russian. We all asked for a Ruskie newspaper. She looked at us as if to say,"Really?". Duly handed over the paper. We passed the time on the flight pouring over every page,picking out the odd English word and trying to make out from that what the story must have been about. When we were due to land in Tokyo,as the stewardess was collecting the papers,I kind of clutched it to my bosom and said "Keep for souvenir?".She shook her head and growled "No " at me. As the agent in Paris,Roland Bertin always used Aeroflot to fly out his dancers [probably because he was a cheap skate!] they were used to different troupes every six months coming and going. But i`m sure they must have been glad to see the back of us six girls and one boy that night. We would love to have ventured out of the airport though and seen the real country.

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http://www.baltictravelcompany.com

 

would be able to help you with flights; hotels; trips; rail link between the two cities etc. if that is what you are seeking. They will also provide a car to and from the airport if you want that service. However, you would probably still have to organise your ballet tickets yourself.

 

By the way, the Russian visa system is not as bad as all that. Please don't let the thought of that put you off going.

Edited by capybara
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I've never been to Russia yet though have started learning the language.

 

This is because believe it or not (I hardly can) our Ballet group may be going to perform in some amateur Dance Festival in St Petersburg next November!!

So even though it will only be in some freezing church hall somewhere I'm totally bowled over by the idea of dancing in the city of the Maryinski.

I hope we get a chance to look around the Vaganova School at least .......I will feel I'm in some sort of surreal dream though.....and go to a ballet while we're there of course!

The boat trip mentioned sounds just up my street but hopefully the first week of November won't be so cold everything has frozen up!!

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I have just been to St P for the second time - we spent 5 nights there and 1 night in Moscow this month. As others have said it is a fantastic place to visit, quite apart from the ballet. It is different seeing ballet in Russia - in St P the Mariinsky have two theatres, and both are great. The old theatre has no rake in the stalls and it is hard to see from the second row in the dress circle because the boxes are flat. They are also quite cramped. It is worth paying at least £30-£40 which gets you a good seat in thr front row of a box. There is no problem in the new theatre. However the atmosphere is fantastic. The Michailovsky is a real gem - I saw the best performance ever of Giselle there last week - with the full 32 beats. It's a young company and Viktor Lebedev and Anastasia Soboleva are names to look out for. Buy tickets direct from all the theatres online not through an agency as the mark- up is incredible and they all do etickets. Avoid tourist theatres like the Kremlin Palace Theatre in Moscow - the standard is not so good and the audience are largely tourists. Russia is generally cheap and it's easy to get the fast train to Moscow. We booked everything ourselves and got our own visas, and flew in and out of St P which is easy from London. It's a wonderful experience!

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The Kremlin Palace hosts all sorts of dance events and I would say its always worth taking a chance on.  The last time I saw Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev together was at the Kremlin Palace where they danced a pas de deux to Prokofiev's Overture on Hebrew Themes.  Afterward audience members filed on stage to present them with gift and flowers, had I known in advance I would have brought something myself but only heard about the performance minutes before it started,  I literally raced to the theatre and waved a fistful of dollars at the people going in yelling 'bilyet pazhalsta', luckily someone was tempted to sell.  A night I'll never forget.

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In 2012, I was fortunate to see Anastasia and Denis Matvienko in Swan Lake at the Mariinsky Theatre.  They were absolutely beautiful together.  The love Odette and Siegfried showed for each other on stage was, quite obviously, an extension of real life.

 

I want to go back....

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Is Kremlin Palace Theatre the home of Kremlin Ballet, or is that a different company altogether?

 

I presume so (name change), they used to dance at the Palace of Congress which is situated inside the Kremlin complex.  In addition to Kremlin Ballet there is also the Stanislavsky Ballet and other dance events can be seen at other venues in Moscow such as The Operetta Theatre  and the Tchaikovsky Hall.

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Maybe I was just unlucky with the performance I saw at the Kremlin then. But the audience talked all the time, used their mobiles, the corps were very poor and it was a real disappointment. The St P performances were in a different class altogether. We didn't see anything at the Bolshoi this time.

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Also there is Dance Open Festival in April in St. Petersburg. I was lucky enough to catch Bolshoi's fabulous Taming of the Shrew there at Alexandrinsky Theater. 

 

This year's program is like this. Vienna State Ballet, Perm Ballet, Dresden Semperoper Ballet, Slovenia Maribor Ballet.

http://www.danceopen.com/en/

 

Also there is a gala with many stars. (This year, Manuel Legris is announced to be performing in this gala) 

If you are lucky, you can see Mariinsky, Mikhailovsky and Dance Open Festival in one trip (which I did last year) 

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 Avoid tourist theatres like the Kremlin Palace Theatre in Moscow - the standard is not so good and the audience are largely tourists.

 

.....  and the Alexandrinsky in St Petersburg which has 'scratch' companies performing (usually) Swan Lake and caters to the cruise ship business. Beautiful theatre, though, as is the Mikhailovsky.

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As this is thread for Russian ballet lovers, thought I'd just post a reminder that the Kirov's Cardiff performances are less than a month away.  I've booked my tickets and hotel and am counting down the days.

I'm going too the Friday and Saturday only.  Happy to meet any balletco-ers.

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