St.Petersburg State Circus
Circus performances had a great success among citizens of St-Petersburg
even in XVII century. They were held at squares during folk
holidays in Maneges that were used for horse riding training.
In XIX century special circus buildings were built. But they
were wooden and not very comfortable.
The first constant circus - "Turnier circus" was built
in 1827 on the same place where the present circus is. More
than 120 years ago, on 26 December 1877, there was the opening
of the Circus on Fontanka - the first in Russia stone building,
built according to the specific parameters of circuses (the
architect - V.A. Kenel). This date is a birthday of the Circus
The initiative of circus building belonged to the Italian actor,
horseman and trainer Gaetano Chinizelli - the head of the big
circus family that came on tour to Petersburg in 1847.
The building of a new circus thought to be one of the most beautiful
circuses building in Europe. It adored the contemporaries by
its perfect proportions and chaming decorations: figures of
muses in arch-shaped windows, allegoric sculpture group in the
centre of ledge with theatrical masks, frontones with goreliefs
of horseheads. The circus inside was also elegant - spectator
hall was well dressed by gold imitations, pink velvet, mirrors,
crystal lamps, with the writing on the shade "with different
typical images from voltige world".
The Chinizelli circus (it was called so until the revolution)
played an important role in the development of circus art in
Russia. The best actors from all over the world performed there
- famous clowns Billi Gaiden and Jakomino, grotesque horsewoman
Ms. Adel and air gymnast Ms. Zinobia, the favorite of aristocracy
the rider James Fillis, Russian clowns, trainers and brothers
Anatoly and Vladimir Durovy. Smart decorated pantomimes and
water show - "Chinderella", "Robert and Beltram",
Fiametta - the queen of robbers", "Nibelungs"
and others were held in the circus, also there were championships
of very popular in that time classical fight.
To visit Chinizelli Circus for aristocracy thought to be as
fashionable as to first Mikhailovsky Theatre. A.I. Kuprin, D.V.
Grigorovuch, A.A. Blok and F.I. Shalyapin were among the fans
of that circus.
In 1919 Chinizelli Circus became state, and in 1924 V.G. Tuzzi
- a talanted producer, organizer, great actor and horse trainer
became the first director of Leningrad Circus.
20-30s years - is a period of coming -to-be of the Soviet Circus.
And though there were some foreign names on the posters, soviet
actors became the leaders at the circus manege. That time in
Leningrad Circus there were the performances of a popular clown
- satirist Vitaly Lasarenko, musical clowns brothers Tanti,
carpetmen Franz and Friz, gymnasts A. and M. Shiray, rope-walkers
the Sviridins, trainer A.N. Alexandrov-Fedotov and others. At
the Leningrad Manege the carpetman Pavel Alexeevitch (P.A. Alexeev)
was the first who changed the traditional mask of "Red"
into ordinary comical image, and clown M.N. Rumyancev became
a famous Karandash (Pencil).
For its great creative merits in 1939 the Leningrad Circus was
awarded by the Order of Labor Red Banner.
The Great Patriotic War and the blockade broke the circus activity.
It was opened again in 1944, 28 November. The postwar period
of creative life of Leningrad Circus is connected with the activity
of Honored Artist G.S.Venezianov - the art-director of Leningrad
Circus from 1946 till 1965. At the same time studios of musical
clownery and horse acrobatics were created at Leningrad Circus,
some of its artist have been working at Manage till nowadays.
Art fortune of many famous artists is connected with the Circus
on Fontanka. A great trainer B.P. Manzhelli created his turns
together with G.S. Venezianov, who was a great master of horse
genre. E.T.Kio worked there in renewing his illusion attraction.
Here in Leningrad "The Bear Circus" of Valentin Filatov
started its art life. G.S.Venezianov paid great attention to
clownery genre. A great carpetman Boris Vyatkin had been working
there for eleven seasons. Actors D.Demash and Gmozel performed
in genre of buffoonery clownery, original carpetman Konstantin
Musin showed his talant.
The best creative traditions continued to life in Leningrad
(St-Petersburg) circus in last decades.
The arena of Leningrad Circus has been decorated with art dynasties
of the Durovs, the Filatovs, the Zapashnyes, the Olhovikovs,
the Volchanskies, Kio, the Alexandrov-Serzhes, the Kohs, the
Here worked great clowns - Yury Nikulin, Mikhail Shuidin, Oleg
Popov, Leonid Engibarov, Evgeniy Mayhrovsky, Gennady Makovsky,
Genrih Rotman, Anatoly Marchevsky, Yuriy Kuklachov, famous trainers
- Irina Bugrimova, Margarita Nazarova, Ludmila and Vladimir
Shevenko, Boris Biryukov,
Nikolai Pavlenko, Irina and Ivan Yarovye, Ludmila and Vladimir
Deryabkiny, Dzhigit group of Tamerlan Nugzarov, juggler Sergei
Ignatov, illusionists Lyubov and Anatoly Sudarchikovy, air flight
of Vladimir Garamov and many other masters of Manege.
Composers V.Soloviev-Sedoi, O.Chromushin, A.Kavlarsky, G.Firtich,
Ya.Duravin; Poets: S.Orlov, V.Toropygin, M.Dudin, V.Syslov,
O.Chuprov; script writers: A.Minchkovsky, A.Barten, I.Turichin,
K.Ryzhov, M.Fradkin and Y.Pogorelsky, I.Vinogradsky; Artists:
V.Ryndin, T.Bruns, C.Mandel, V.Galba, O.Orevin, and others have
cooperated with the Circus on Fontanka.
In August 1928 in the building of Leningrad circus under initiative
of Theatre Schoolteacher V.Y.Andreev the museum of Circus and
Stage was opened (now - the Museum of Circus Art). It was the
first and the only institution of such a way. Till now in the
museum has stayed a unique collection where there are materials
and documents that reflect the history of not only native, but
also foreign circus.
The museum funds attract the attention of cinema and TV directors,
actors, art critics, students and circus fans. There are excursions
for children and adults. The museum is in international correspondence
and changes the materials with foreign artists of circus and
collectors from different countries.
In 1994 St-Petersburg Circus and academy of Theatre Art organized
the recruitment of students for studying the specialization
- actor and director of circus and stage. St-Petersburg Circus
is one of the leading producing circuses of our country. There
are pantomimes, theme performances, plays for children.
St.Petersburg State Circus hall plan
Address: Fontanka embankment, 65 see map