The Hermitage Signs Agreement of Cooperation with the Mariinsky Theater
On 10 April, 2003, the Hermitage Theater hosted the ceremony of signing the agreement of cooperation between the State Hermitage Museum and the Mariinsky Theater. Heads of Russia’s two major cultural institutions Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky and Valery Abisalovich Gergiyev signed a document setting forth new joint programs to mark the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg.
Though the agreement of cooperation including a succession of large-scale events in St. Petersburg, other Russian cities and abroad was an expected development, it made sensation. The two absolutely autonomous institutions will now on equal terms realize projects combining music and fine arts. Recognized leaders of international arts, both the Mariinsky Theater and the Hermitage were born as phenomena of national culture opened to the world in the age of Catherine the Great. In 1764 the Empress bought the collection of merchant Gotskovsky which laid the foundation for the Hermitage collection. In 1783 Catherine II published the decree creating the Big Stone Theater, the progenitor of the present-day Mariinsky. The alliance between the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theater is justified by history because both were founded as treasuries of national and international cultural values and testing grounds for new ideas. Their existence also has a political aspect: they are to demonstrate the power of the Russian State to the entire world; the task which they have always excellently performed. The museum and theater accessible to general public were designed to educate citizens, first of all youth, with the use of the best creations of international arts. This function has not lost its actuality.
International tours of the Mariinsky Theater, visits of western classical stars, international exhibitions of the Hermitage and organization of the major Russian museum’s representations abroad attest to the world’s esteem enjoyed by the two institutions. Visitors to the Hermitage exhibitions and Mariinsky performances come from various countries to see the best specimens of arts. This audience is shared by the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theater. It is remarkable that even their “geography of influence” is to a great extent the same. Their closest contacts are with the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany and the USA. The Hermitage has its exhibitions grounds or long-term projects in these countries, while the Mariinsky often tour them. Quite naturally, these contacts does not preclude the museum and theater’s friendly expansion to other countries.
While representing Russia in the international arts, the State Hermitage Museum and the Mariinsky Theater act as messengers of Russian national culture. The Hermitage has traditional links with museums and public of such Russian regions as Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Lipetsk or Kazan. Over last years the Mariinsky has also been showing its interest to these cities.
Shared understanding of traditions and innovations, extensive experience of activities within and outside Russia, well-established contacts with Russian and international cultural institutions, desire to win new audiences and urge of experimenting will contribute to the success of the cooperation between the Mariinsky Theater and the Hermitage which has now been given a legal form. The agreement made between them include among other things the following events:
1. Ballet performance of the Mariinsky stars in Palace Square on 28 May, 2003, in celebration of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg.
2. Participation of the Mariinsky Theater and the State Hermitage Museum in the Big Waltz Festival in Pavlovsk from 5 to 13 July, 2003.
3. Joint participation in the celebration of Pskov’s 1100th anniversary: exhibition from the Hermitage and performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Pskovityanka on 17 August, 2003, by the Mariinsky company conducted by Valery Gergiyev.
4. Exhibition St. Alexander Nevsky: The Patron of St. Petersburg in the Museum of Fine Arts of Veliky Novgorod and performance of Prokofiyev’s oratorio Alexander Nevsky on the exhibition opening day 28 August, 2003, in the Novgorod Kremlin by the Mariinsky company conducted by Valery Gergiyev.
5. Participation of the Mariinsky stars in the gala concert marking the 220th anniversary of the Hermitage Theater.
6. Participation of the State Hermitage Museum in the exhibition marking the 220th anniversary of the Mariinsky Theater.
7. Participation in the Culture Journalism Program at the Department of Journalism, University of St. Petersburg, from September 2003 to May 2004.