Sunday 24th July 2011
Sunday had already been quite busy (Peterhof in the rain in the morning, exploring the Metro and Moscow Station in the afternoon) but we were not done yet. Dinner was at 6.00 p.m., comprising soup and a man course only to ensure that we'd be ready to leave the ship by 7.00 p.m. The dessert was to be offered to us on our return! We'd been offered two choices for the evening's entertainment - The Menshikov Hall Folk Show or Ballet at the Hermitage Theatre. Well, the Ballet Company might not be the famous Mariinsky (formerly the Kirov) but the performance was at the Hermitage Theatre so it was no contest. I joined one of the buses for the ballet and we drove downtown.
We entered the Winter Palace through a modest doorway and climbed stairs to the first floor. We passed through a large salon which formed a bridge over a canal. The salon had been renovated and was quite grand, if bare. Large windows on either side gave views of the canal on one side and the Neva River on the other. A small souvenir and programme stall looked rather out-of-place in the grand salon. We passed into the theatre itself which had also had extensive renovation. The theatre seats around 250 and is quite intimate. Steeply raked semicircular seating rows ensure good views. A few rows of chairs, very close to the orchestra, filled in the semicircle. Guides from the ship acted as usherettes to find seating for us all. Most of the audience appeared to be tourists, but I did spot one old Russian lady who looked as if she might be a regular.
The performance started on time. I'd not seen 'Giselle' so I was quite glad of the programme notes. I'm not a fan of the ballet but I enjoyed the two-acts of 'Giselle'. After the performance, the audience were generous in their appreciation of both the dancers and the orchestra.
We retraced our steps through the salon, down the stairs and out into the street, where our coaches were waiting to return us to the ship. Those with the appetite (and energy) were offered dessert to complete the evening meal. Altogether, a very satisfactory day.