The main auditorium in the new Mariinsky Theatre is clad in onyx that glows so warmly it is visible from the street. It’s like a bit of the midnight sun is held inside the building, a symbol of the artistic spirit that has burned within Russia’s most remarkable arts institution since 1860.
We didn’t start our design with the idea of this symbol – it came into focus over time, after working at length with maestro Valery Gergiev, and as our understanding of Saint Petersburg and the Mariinsky deepened.
The design of the first major Russian opera house in over a century, in a culture that exalts its greatest artists, was daunting. Our priorities, however, were clear: create a hall of exceptional acoustic quality; make operations easier for the theatre staff; celebrate the gregarious nature of attending a performance.
We believed the building, like the long list of modern dance and musical giants who built the Mariinsky’s reputation (notably, Balanchine, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich) should be modern and forward looking while remaining respectful of St. Petersburg’s historical significance.