The Chamber Opera Theatre is a relatively young theater, established in 1987 by Yuri Alexandrov, one of Russia’s famous musical theater directors and an innovator in the genre of opera. In the beginning it was conceived as a “Laboratory of Creativity”. The team of talented actors, soloists, and musicians, headed by Yuri Alexandrov, created a unique repertoire of opera which were not staged anywhere else. Their works vary from comic opera (opera buff) to musical drama and contemporary compositions. The Theatre has toured to Finland, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Moscow and many cities throughout Russia.
After a lengthy period with no stage of its own, the Theater finally acquired its own home in Baron S. von Derviz’ mansion at 33 Galernaya Street in the very heart of St. Petersburg. The restored building was opened as an opera theater on 27 May 2003, the day of St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary.
The history of this building is very interesting. It was built in the early XVIII century. The first owner of this mansion was A. Volynsky, the cabinet minister of Empress Anna Ioanovna. Baron S. von Derviz purchased the property in 1880. Sergei P. von Derviz (1863 – 1918) was a descendent of a German family. In the mid-XVIII century, Johann Adolf Wiese, then working in Sweden, began working in Russia as a legal counselor and was granted the noble rank of the Holy Roman Empire with the addition of “von der” to his name.
The architects P. Schreiber and N. Nabokov redesigned the mansion facades both on the English Embankment and Galernaya Street to gain the style uniformity. Great attention was given to the mansion‘s interiors, which were executed in differing styles according to the fashion of the day. The facade on Galernaya Street embraces the elements of the Renaissance style, slightly suggestive of a Florentine palazzo.
In 1911-1913 the mansion witnessed performances of V. Meierhold’s “House of Interludes”, which was a progressive bohemian theater-restaurant with a unique repertoire. Among the spectators there were such figures as K. Stanislavsky and V. Nemirovich-Danchenko.
In 1913-1917 this building was known as N. Shebeko’s “Theater and Concert Hall” and there were concerts with the participation of F. Chalyapin, L. Sobinov and I. Duncan.
When repairing the mansion at the end of the XX century, it was kept in mind to preserve the interiors of the mansion including the luxurious Moorish Drawing Room with the rich gilt embellishment and the Maple Drawing room with the decorative paneling. The Red Reception room is decorated in the style of Italian Renaissance. The lobby of the theater is finished in the style of Neoclassicism. A Winter Garden looking like an enchanted grotto, hosts the concerts of Russian romances and chamber music.
The Chamber Opera Theatre is another gem in the center of St. Petersburg for visitors to enjoy.