A jewel in Russia’s cultural crown

Show-stopping sparkle has given majesty and drama to St Petersburg’s new and opulent Mariinsky Theatre. Lucky audiences enjoying a night at the opera or ballet will bathe in the glow from lighting effects that are, quite simply, out of this world.

Headed by Artistic Director Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky II is the new address for the Mariinsky Opera, Orchestra, and Ballet. The original 1860 Mariinsky Theatre, which premiered Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in 1874 and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker in 1892, was expanded in 2007 with the addition of the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall. It now boasts a further development known as Mariinsky II, the first major opera house to be built in Russia since the Czars, which opened with an exclusive black-tie gala on May 2, 2013, marked by virtuoso performances from Plácido Domingo and Anna Netrebko.

The stunning edifice, designed by the Canadian firm, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and costing $700 million, pays due respect to the parent building by giving public spaces, rehearsal rooms, and the breathtaking rooftop amphitheater glorious views over the canal of the old Mariinsky and the city. Glass and metal walkways slice through the building, with the two theaters connected by a bridge.

Working in partnership with Russian lighting designer, Desart LLC, Swarovski Architectural Solutions, an expert team of designers and architects at Swarovski Lighting, was commissioned to create suitably dramatic lighting effects, yet without interfering with the acoustics. Swarovski Architectural Solutions rose to the challenge, deploying over 130,000 Swarovski crystals to match the prestige of the new seven-storey building. Blending seamlessly into the space, the luxurious crystalline accents highlight the Mariinsky’s grandeur and awe-inspiring sense of occasion.

Theater-goers enter an interior glowing in light reflected from wall panels made of Italian onyx that stretch several floors high. Custom crystal art pieces from Swarovski adorn the main lobby area, where, surrounded by a reflective glass façade, thousands of crystals catch and refract an abundance of natural light by day, and atmospherically illuminate performances by night.

Those privileged to sit behind the beech wood front of the leather-walled VIP box get to enjoy a breathtaking, custom crystal art piece realized by Swarovski—a lighting element designed to create a state-of-the-art ‘space-centering’ effect that guarantees major wow factor. In sympathy with the auditorium’s cutting-edge production lighting, the balcony fronts are artfully studded with further discreet accent lights created by Swarovski, designed to give an intimate and romantic sparkle to the main hall, just as flickering candelabras once did in days gone by. It all contrives to conjure an unforgettable ambiance as a hush descends, the houselights fade, and the curtain goes up on another stellar performance.

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Photography by Tim Griffith.

Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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