1783: Construction of the Hermitage Theatre
In 1783 Empress Catherine II charged Giacomo Quarenghi with the construction of the Hermitage Theatre. Construction of this fine building, in the style of late 18th-century Russian Neoclassicism, was completed in 1787. The windows of the ground floor are decorated with rustication and key-stones with lion's masks, some of Quarenghi's favourite elements. The colonnade of the second tier is flanked with projecting bays containing statues of ancient Greek playwrights and poets.
Inside, semicircular rows of benches fill the auditorium and descend to the stage. The walls are decorated with imitation marble and columns terminating in grotesque masks. Above the sculptures of Apollo and the Muses in niches are medallions with the profiles of outstanding playwrights. Between the stage and the hall is a balustrade, and beyond it several rows of benches and two lateral boxes. From the 18th century theatrical performances were given here regularly for Catherine, sometimes for small intimate groups of friends, sometimes on a more lavish scale for the court and diplomatic circles. New Year masquerades and theatrical dinners might also be given here for select groups.
View of the Building of the Theatre
The Hall of the Theatre