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Printed from: http://petersburgcity.com/theaters/?id=441|
The Hermitage theatre is the oldest building in a complex of the Winter Palace kept till our time. Was built by order of Catherine the Great in 1782-1785 to a design by the architect Giacomo Quarenghi. It was constructed in the austere Neoclassical style on the site of what was once Peter the Grate’s Winter Palace. The building of the theatre is functionally independent and adjoins the basic court building by an arch - transition through the channel connecting the river Moika to the Neva ("the Winter flute").
The decoration of the theatre and its halls is unique and represents a classical masterpiece of palace architecture of the XVIII century. Its unusual auditorium was designed to resemble an amphitheatre, the walls and columns decorated with coloured imitation marble. Statues of Apollo and the nine Muses are placed in niches, with bas-relief portraits of famous musicians and poets above them. The small court theatre (only 250 seats) was initially intended for the imperial family and selected court noblesse. It defined the forms, capacity of the hall and disposition of seat rows. A small pit of three rows at seven armchairs each for the honorary guests is arranged before the stage. Behind a balustrade separating the stage from the auditorium, there are some more lines of benches and two lateral boxes.
The seats of armchairs are upholstered with red velvet; floors are covered with carpets. The architectural decision of the auditorium of the Hermitage has strict classical forms included in the canons of the world building art.
Before the stage there is an open orchestral hole separated from the hall by the balustrade. Being not very wide the stage is rather deep that allows arranging of various sets and gives large space for staging even ballet performances. The hall has natural perfect acoustics, sounds of music are transferred precisely and clearly.
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