Mariinsky Orchestra

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About Mariinsky Orchestra

As the orchestra of Russia’s foremost opera house, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra is both one of the most prestigious and most venerable in Russia. Though the ensemble claims its history dates from the early 18th century, it is safer to trace its origin back to 1803, when the Russian Opera troupe—which transferred to the newly built Mariinsky Theater in 1860—was founded. Initially less well-regarded than the favored Italian Opera Company, the Russian Opera became notable under Konstantin Lyadov (father of composer Anatoly), its conductor from 1850. As well as performing Russia’s first Wagner production, Lohengrin, they premiered works by Mussorgsky, Dargomyzhsky, and Serov. Under chief conductor Eduard Nápravník, the orchestra gave the premieres of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov, and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, while its excellence was recognized by such composer/conductors as Berlioz, Wagner, and Mahler. Following the Revolution, Vladimir Dranishnikov revived the orchestra’s fortunes, conducting the Soviet Russian premieres of Berg’s Wozzeck and Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges. After Sergey Kirov’s assassination in 1934, the theatre and orchestra were renamed in his honor and Dranishnikov was fired shortly afterwards. The orchestra subsequently premiered Prokofiev’s complete Romeo and Juliet ballet and Khachaturian’s Spartacus, but its prestige dwindled until the appointment of music director, Valery Gergiev, in 1988. With its original name restored in 1992—and lavishly supported by the Russian government—the orchestra was showcased as a performing ensemble; its dedicated concert hall opened in 2006.

St. Petersburg, Russia
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