For those who wish to go to see an opera or ballet in St. Petersburg, in this article I will explain how to buy tickets online in the websites of the two most famous theaters in the city, the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky.
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Many tourists that visit Russia, even those who are not very fond of ballet or opera, often want to go to a ballet or opera interpretation.
If in Moscow the Bolshoi Theatre is famous, in St. Petersburg there are two renowned theaters: the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky.
In this post I will explain how to buy tickets online in these theaters, as well as the dress code if you will be attending some representation.
Some aspects to consider when buying tickets online:
- Tickets can be purchased online but also in advance at the theater box office.
- In some operas or ballets, the tickets for Russian citizens (or legal residents in Russia) are more economic than the tickets for foreigners. Tickets for Russians are marked with the rate “special rate”, while foreigners must buy tickets with the normal or “full rate”.
- Electronic tickets only need to printed and present them directly at the entrance (no need to exchange them).
- It is important to buy tickets some time in advance since it is easy for some representations to have high demand and put the sign “sold out” on the website.
1. The Mariinsky theater: how to buy tickets online
The Mariinsky Theatre is a historic theater, both opera and ballet. It is the home of the famous Mariinsky Ballet (known as Kirov Ballet during Soviet times). Its general director is Valeri Guérguiev.
The theater is located in a classic building in the city center (in Teatralnaya square) in which the first performance took place in 1860. More recently, in May 2013, a second theater opened (known as Mariinsky II), in an outbuilding, and it has a modern and spacious setting, with capacity for 2,000 spectators.
The regular theater season is usually in the period from September to June, though there is also the summer season during the months of July and August.
To buy tickets, it is best to do it through the theater’s official website to avoid the extra costs applied by other intermediaries. Tickets for the regular season go on sale a few weeks before it begins, while tickets for the summer season usually go on sale in May.
Steps to buy tickets – you must follow these steps:
- Register as a user on the website through this link. After filling out the form and clicking on the register button, you will receive a confirmation email. Once you confirm your account you can now access it using your email and the password you chose when you registered.
- Once registered, you can go to the theater program through this link: https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/. You will see that representations are sorted by day and by stages (Mariinsky Theatre, Mariinsky II, etc). It also indicates whether it is an opera, a ballet or a concert. If you see the “No tickets” sign, it’s probably because all tickets are already sold.
- After clicking on the “Buy tickets” button of the interpretation you’ve chosen, you will see a plan of the room. In this example I chose the Aida opera on October 30, which is represented on the main stage (Mariinsky Theatre). You must choose one of the free seats (marked in yellow), but after selecting them they will be marked in red. You can buy a maximum of 16 tickets per order. After this you must click on “Add to basket”:
- You will see a summary of the locations and their price. VERY IMPORTANT: the “Special rate” is more economic but is intended only to Russians citizens or legal residents in Russia. The “Full rate” tariff is for foreigners.
- After payment you will receive electronic tickets, which you will only need to print them to present to the usher, in order to scan the bar code (you don’t need to go to the ticket office to redeem the entrance).
To cancel the tickets, you have to fill in a form at least 10 days before the representation and send it by fax or email. More information on this link: https://tickets.mariinsky.ru/en/agreement/ (section 5).
2. The Mikhalovsky theater: how to buy tickets online
The Mikhailovsky is another famous theatre in St. Petersburg, in which opera and ballet are performed. It is one of the oldest in Russia, since it was founded in 1833 and it is located in a historic building in the city center in the Arts Square.
The tickets, which can also be purchased online, are usually offered for sale a few weeks before the start of the trimester. The representations are made throughout the year, including July and August.
You need to be aware also of the different ticket types (for Russian citizens or foreigners).
The ticket purchase process is very similar:
- Register as a user on the theatre’s website http://www.mikhailovsky.ru/en/
- Access the programming schedule. You must select the work and the locations. The free locations are the ones marked in color. After marking them they remain in red. After this you must confirm the purchase, select a payment method and pay.
- The purchased tickets don’t need to be exchanged for the original tickets. After the purchase process you get a ticket in PDF format that carries a QR code, that you just have to print (or present it on your Smartphone or Tablet) to directly access the theater.
Tickets can also be returned by following the return policy of the theater and noting that the refund is made to the same card with which you made your purchase, minus a commission of 2.3%. For this you must fill out a form and send it by fax or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on this link: http://mikhailovsky.ru/en/buy_now/purchase_rules/return_policy/
3. Dress code when attending a performance
There is no specific dress code to go to the ballet or opera. All you have to know is that you have to be well dressed, but there is no obligation to wear a suit and tie or a gown. You can go even well dressed in jeans. The only thing is not to go in shorts or T-shirts or in torn jeans. You can see more details in the website of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre (see screenshot below).
In winter, keep in mind that coats, jackets or bulky clothing must be left in the theater’s cloakroom.
I hope this article has served to purchase your tickets for the opera or ballet in St. Petersburg. Have you attended any representation? What has been your experience?
Dr. Sujata Mohanty
Hi Irena! We will be visiting Russia in the first half of June. When is the ideal time to buy tickets on line for Swan lake ballet in St. Petersberg and Circus in Moscow? Will appreciate your input! Thanks
Hello Irena. Pleased to meet you. I hope that you can help me. I am trying to register on the Mikhailovsky website as you explain above. But it will not let me register. When I have entered all of my details, then a new pop-up box appears with source code in it. But no confirmation message. But then if I try and re-register it says that that email address has already been registered. And then mentions a confirmation email that has been sent. I have never received such an email. Have you heard of similar issues?
Have look at your spam folder. Also, you can try with another browser.
Thank you Irena. I tried with Firefox instead of Safari and the same issue. I even tried with my work email and same problem. I’ll double check with my spam but I have checked all my trash folders on my iPhone and my Mac but I cannot find anything. I am thinking that woman have to wait until we arrive but sadly it may then be far too late!!
You’re right. I just tried and it does not work. You can write an email to the theater to warn them of the problem: https://www.mikhailovsky.ru/en/theatre/contacts/
Hi Irena. Thanks for this. Yes I sent them an email on the same day that I sent you a message on your blog. But sadly no response as yet. Just a bit frustrating because I really wanted to go to the ballet and I fear that all tickets will be sold. I might send another message to them. Hopefully they will respond because it looks to me that currently it is impossible to buy tickets from their website because you can’t register. Many thanks for your help though – much appreciated.
You can also buy tickets at Ticketland: https://spb.ticketland.ru/search/performance/?text=%D0%9C%D0%B8%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE
That’s great news. I shall try now Irena. Thank you again.
One quick thought Irena. I tried Ticketland and it is all in Russian. Which is a bit difficult. Do you think the hotel would buy them for me?