Ever since I was introduced to the basics of ballet through gymnastics, I was hooked. There hasn’t been a ballet that I haven’t loved for one reason or another. I fell in love with everything about ballet, the ballerinas, the music, the costumes, the scenery, everything. and unlike opera, they (especially the ballerinas, their movements, and the music) never clash, always accentuating each other. So obviously I’ve wanted to see a ballet in Russia for the longest time.
I thought about the possibility of seeing one while I was in Russia, but I dismissed it because I was afraid that it would be too pricey…what’s the point of buying a ticket to the ballet if you can’t see a thing even with opera glasses? After I thought about it some more and about the fact that this was a vacation and vacations are to be enjoyed, I mean you’re supposed to do amazing, unbelievable things when you’re on vacation, right? Also, it crossed my mind, when would be the next time that I make it to Russia??? – you never know what could happen, Biden could annoy/make whoever is running Russia mad at the States and we’re banned from Russia. And third, it’s not like I’m a real big spender here in Korea, I have enough money to do this bucket list item.
So I asked my friend Margot for help and she gave me the website for the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky Theater and luckily the Mariinsky had a ballet performance planned to the night that I had planned on staying in St. Pete’s. 😀
The theater itself is unbelievable mintish green paint , white moldings, with touches of gold and that’s just the outside. It’s huge, imposing, basically the stuff that dreams are made of and made into reality. I can imagine the children in St. Petersburg that study ballet walking by the Mariinsky at least once a week imagining one day they could feel the rush of the opening curtain, the ping of the violins, the gasps and cheers of the crowd all for them.
The ballet I saw was the Fountain of Bakhchisarai, based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, I honestly thought that I was getting a two-for-one deal: real Russian ballet in Russia and a poem by Alexander Pushkin. For some unknown reason, I had it in my head that it started at 8pm, but happily I made a point of figuring out exactly where the theater was and picking up my ticket before the show and found out that the show actually started at 7pm. Along the way I had bought some things from the souvenir market next to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and I had this idea that I’d prefer to leave them at the hostel instead of lugging them around the rest of the afternoon. And then I found out that the nearest subway was closed and I couldn’t find any alternative entrances. So I was a little late(5 minutes) to the performance, but thankfully I only missed the first few minutes of the overture. I had an amazing seat, I was on the third tier, the very front next to the crown, and the view was spectacular.
I’m not disrespecting any of the other ballet theaters or companies that I’ve been able to see in the past, but yeah, ummm they just don’t compare to the Mariinsky. There was a stage on the stage, a fully workable 3-D set on the set. The costumes were amazing…even with the economic difficulties around the world, they had the most gorgeous costumes that had to cost a lot to make and to outfit that many dancers.
Yuri Smekalov was the male lead, Khan Ghirei, and Alexandra Iosifidi, who played the Khan’s favorite wife, Zarema, were amazing. I think that they were a bit underrated, mostly because of their size, they’re pretty tall for ballerinas, especially Alexandra Iosifidi. It was unbelievable how effortless they made everything look, particularly from where I sat, it looked like they were barely hopping, but I know that they were really much higher than that.