Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects has completed an opera house in St Petersburg which itself completes the Mariinsky II performing arts complex, located across the Kryukov Canal from the original Mariinsky Theatre (1860). The new home of the Mariinsky opera, ballet and orchestra “embraces the themes and forms of St. Petersburg and contains a jewel of an auditorium that is based upon the successful configuration of past houses, and one in which the social aspects of attending opera or ballet performances have been enhanced for every member of the audience,” said architect Jack Diamond.

The 79,115 square metre facility fills an entire city block and consists of a masonry base of Jura limestone, large structural glass bay windows and a gently curved metal roof with a glass canopy. The design intent is to provide a frame for the original Mariinsky theatre from the streetscape and allow extensive views of the landmark neoclassical theatre from within Mariinsky II.

Dramatic staircases connect multi-tiered lobbies, and a large illuminated onyx wall encases the 2000-capacity auditorium, which features a horseshoe configuration with three balconies in the tradition of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera houses.

Back-of-house accommodates full stage-size rehearsal rooms for the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet, Orchestra and Chorus as well as dining and production facilities for 2,500 staff. The new theatre is the production centre for the Mariinsky Cultural Complex, including a nearby concert hall, the Music Academy and the original Mariinsky Theatre, which will soon close for renovation.

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