Speech at opening ceremony for Mariinsky Theatre’s new building 2013-05-02 20:30:00 Saint Petersburg President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, friends, Today, we celebrate a major event in the cultural life of our country: we are opening the second building of the famous Mariinsky Theatre, loved by millions of our people. Congratulations. We are opening the Theatre’s second facility. Just recently, the same event occurred in Moscow, where the Bolshoi Theatre was reopened. But we are not just concerned with developing theatres and the theatrical arts in major cities. Theatres are opening in the Russian Federation’s regions, in Saransk, Yoshkar-Ola and other regional centres. But I also want to point out right now that this is absolutely insufficient for the development of the Russian theatrical arts in our country. We agreed earlier that since the Government of the Russian Federation and the Culture Ministry have completed the major construction work in Moscow and St Petersburg, they must give more attention to developing the theatre in Russia’s regions and not reduce corresponding funding. But today, we are at the Mariinsky Theatre, attending the event that has brought us here. I must tell you that this project has a long history. Back in 1997, Mr Gergiev appealed to the leadership of the country with a suggestion to build a second facility for the Mariinsky Theatre. All of you recall what 1997 was like for the country, and it was followed by a descent into a crisis in 1998, so frankly, the theatre was no longer a priority. That is why the first project essentially fizzled out. But Mr Gergiev did not stop there. In 2003, he once again brought this issue up and a new project was born; it underwent an international competitive tender and was seemingly launched. Then in 2007, the main contractor was in fact replaced, and in 2009, another competitive tender was held. All this was possible due to the absolutely unstoppable energy of the artistic director. Only thanks to his efforts was all of this done, and thanks to him, we are opening the second Mariinsky Theatre facility today. But what is this second facility? It is not just another stage; it is a new theatre, and we can see that. I am confident that today, we will experience this for ourselves. As I already said, all of this has been made a reality thanks to Mr Gergiev. And so, you must believe me when I tell you it is a complete coincidence that today is his 60th birthday. Let’s congratulate him. The Mariinsky Theatre has not only maintained all its splendour over these years, it has also risen to a new level in its development. The theatre maintained all the best traditions of Russian musical theatre and is certainly developing them. It holds 760 shows per year and each of them is of world-class, standard-setting quality. I don’t think any other creative team in the world does what the Mariinsky does. Naturally, people know that this work is extremely exhausting, but it does a great deal for the development of creativity and the musical arts in our country, and we are endlessly grateful for this to both Mr Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre’s entire team. Thank you all very much. I described how difficult it was to implement the project. Up until now, we are still having arguments about its appearance and how it fits in with old St Petersburg’s architecture. But it’s obvious that the interior has been carried out at the highest level, using the most advanced international engineering techniques for this type of facility. Indeed, the interior was created in the classical style, but what’s most important and what is key for a musical theatre are the newest technologies that allow for the highest level of sound quality. I hope that tonight, we will hear this for ourselves. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the implementation of this enormous project: the builders, engineers and architects. I certainly want to once again thank Mr Gergiev and the Board of Trustees, whose members I just met with and who have been supporting the development of the Mariinsky Theatre over the course of many years. I congratulate all of you on your new artistic home and wish you luck.