20 Best Performing Arts Venues in City Center, St. Petersburg

Eifman Ballet Theater St. Petersburg

Fodor's choice

Psychological drama reigns here. Most of the ballets in the repertoire of this internationally acclaimed troupe—one of the only professional contemporary ballet company in St. Petersburg—have been inspired by the biographies of extraordinary Russians with a tragic fate or are based on Russian literature. A must-see is Red Giselle, which tells the story of the great Russian ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, who fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and spent 20 years in a psychiatric ward in New York. Also highly recommended are Anna Karenina, Tchaikovsky, and The Russian Hamlet, devoted to the doomed life of Russian tsar Paul I, who was murdered in Mikhailovsky Castle. The troupe, founded in the late 1970s, has no permanent home, and spends most of its time abroad. When here, the company usually performs at the Alexandrinsky Theater, the Mariinsky, or the Mikhailovsky Theater.

Academic Capella

City Center

One of St. Petersburg's best-kept secrets is its oldest concert hall, dating to the 1780s and presenting choral events as well as symphonic, instrumental, and vocal concerts. Many famous musicians, including Glinka and Rimsky-Korsakov, have performed in this elegant space along the Moika, near the Alexander Pushkin Apartment Museum and the Winter Palace. The main entrance and the surrounding courtyards have been beautifully restored.

Alexandrinsky Theater

City Center

Russia's oldest theater opened in 1756 and is one of the country's most elegant and comfortable. Its repertoire is dominated by 19th-century classics but with prominent Moscow director Valery Fokin at the helm, the company is enjoying a prolonged renaissance and staging new productions that have been critically acclaimed. Fokin's interpretations of Dostoyevsky's The Double and Gogol's The Government Inspector are thought-provoking and engaging. The theater also hosts an international drama festival in the early summer.

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Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

City Center

The former home of Prince Beloselsky-Belozersky, a rose-color neobaroque palace, has a large mirrored ballroom that hosts concerts.

Bolshoi Drama Theater

City Center

Known as BDT, this theater is one of the jewels in St. Petersburg's crown and with a repertoire that focuses on classics—from Chekhov and Ostrosky to Shakespeare and Albee—attracts Russia's top acting talent to its boards. With the appointment of one of Russia's most respected directors for the stage, Andrei Moguchi, as artistic director, big things are expected.

65 nab. Reki Fontanki, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 191023, Russia

Gallery Borey

City Center

On display here are changing exhibitions of work by contemporary artists, including paintings, graphics, and decorative art. There is also a shop that sells artists prints and books, as well as unusual souvenirs.

58 Liteiny pr., St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 191104, Russia

Glinka Hall

City Center

For chamber and vocal music, head to this small theater, part of the Shostakovich Philharmonic (it's just around the corner from the main hall of the Philharmonic). It's also known as the Maly Zal (Small Hall).

Hermitage Theater

City Center

This glorious and highly unusual theater in the Hermitage mainly hosts the St. Petersburg Camerata, a fine but often overlooked chamber ensemble. The theater doesn't have a box office, so purchase tickets at a theater kiosk or via your concierge. The entrance is reached via the museum's staff entrance at 34 Dvortsovaya embankment.

House of Composers

City Center

Lovers of contemporary classical music flock here to hear pieces written by its members—look for names such as Sergei Slonimsky, Boris Tishchenko, and Andrey Petrov—and their students at the conservatory.

Kochneva's House

City Center

Chamber music concerts are held here in atmospheric salons.

Marina Gisich Gallery

City Center

One of the best small galleries in St. Petersburg hosts exhibitions by international and Russian artists in a former apartment.

121 nab. Reki Fontanki, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 190068, Russia
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Rate Includes: Closed Sundays

Marionette Theater

City Center

The company revels in an avant-garde and experimental tradition in which works by Swift and Andersen are adapted for marionettes. It has a varied repertoire of fairy tales and children's stories.

Masters' Guild

Petrograd Side

You'll find paintings, graphics, decorative art, and various jewelry items made by local craftsmen for sale here.

21 ul. Kronverkskaya, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 197101, Russia

Mikhailovsky Theater

City Center

This charming theater puts on productions that, at their best, rival those at the Mariinsky. As far as opera is concerned, the Russian repertoire is the theater's strong suit, but it occasionally strikes gold with Italian works as well. Although the company hosted the world premieres of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1934 and Prokofiev's War and Peace in 1946, the works of these composers are now absent from the repertoire, which focuses heavily on 19th-century classics. Highlights include Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride, Borodin's Prince Igor, and Tchaikovsky's Iolanta.

The company's strong dance division is deservedly rated the second-best in town. The classical fare includes Swan Lake, Giselle, La Esmeralda, and Don Quixote as well as some jewels of Soviet-era choreography, like Khachaturian's Spartacus and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato became the artistic director of the ballet company in 2011 and stages several premiere's of his new work each season. Ballet and opera are both generally performed September through June or July.

Peterburg Concert

City Center

Many of the concerts organized at St. Petersburg's most historic venues are run by Peterburg Concert. These concerts are not usually of the same high standard found at other musical events in the city, but they are a much better bet than most of the events organized especially for tourist groups. Tickets can be bought directly from the Peterburg Concert offices.

Samoilov Family Museum

City Center

Charming evening concerts are held in authentic surroundings. The museum displays memorabilia related to Russia's greatest composers, musicians, conductors, and dancers.

8 ul. Stremyannaya, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 191025, Russia

Sheremetev Palace

City Center

Chamber concerts are held in one of the grand rooms of this palace that also houses Russia's national collection of musical instruments.

34 nab. Reki Fontanki, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 191104, Russia

Shostakovich Philharmonic

City Center

Two excellent symphony orchestras perform in the Philharmonic's newly refurbished grand concert hall (Bolshoy Zal): the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academic Philharmonic (a fine outfit, although it's officially the B-team). Both troupes have long, illustrious histories of collaboration with some of Russia's finest composers, and many famous works have premiered in this hall.

St. Petersburg Artists Union Gallery

City Center

The ground floor gallery hosts a program of temporary exhibitions, and works by artists are for sale upstairs.

38 ul. Bolshaya Morskaya, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 190000, Russia

The Russian Icon

City Center

This gallery exhibits and sells contemporary Russian Orthodox icons. It's possible to order customized pieces.

11 ul. Italyanskaya, St. Petersburg, St.-Petersburg, 191186, Russia