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City news, 01.06.2004 14:29

Contract for second Mariinsky signed

Contract for second Mariinsky signed The Culture Ministry finally signed a contract with French architect Dominique Perrault to use his design for a state-of-the-art building housing a second stage for the state-owned Mariinsky Theater. Perrault won an international competition to design the building almost a year ago, but the government has been in no rush to get things started. Some insiders say this embarrassing procrastination is due to a lack of money. Since the competition, the projected cost of the building has gone up from $100 million to $244 million.

Perrault's design is a non-symmetrical, many-sided golden metal structure built around a new theater building. The architect has said that he sees himself as a fashion designer, and his design wraps the black marble facade of the building inside a light, transparent golden tunic.

The new building is intended to harmonize with the existing theater building built in 1860 to a design by Italian Albert Cavos. A bridge over the Kryukov Kanal will connect the two buildings.

"We are talking about creating some kind of a theatrical quarter, similar to what we have in Europe," Perrault said Saturday. "There, the city's history and the rhythm of modern life should be equally felt. My project will be as open to the world as possible. There will be a gallery intersecting the building, accessible at any time of day or night."

While assuring audiences that St. Petersburg will definitely acquire "the best theater in Europe," Governor Valentina Matviyenko issued a warning after the signing ceremony. "What you saw is not the final version," she said. "We are going to ask the architect to make his project a harmonious component of the part of the city surrounding the historical building."

The Mariinsky's artistic director Valery Gergiev is convinced that the second building will become one of the leading concert halls in the world, both visually and technically. The new hall, which will accommodate 2,000 spectators, twice as many as the new Bolshoi Theater hall in Moscow, will rate among the world's top five venues for its acoustics, he said.

"We have never envied anyone in terms of artistic talent," he said. "But I have to admit that, especially over the past several years, we have watched the technical and technological side of the venues where we perform very closely. Anywhere we went on tour, be it Europe, Asia or America, we studied their resources and capacities very carefully, and this experience will be of enormous help for our new building."

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