Tiara

Inefficiencies of the Mariinsky Website

74 posts in this topic

For years now Mariinsky management have been planning the building of their new Mariinsky 2 Theatre, due to open on May 1st. What a shame they have not given the same attention to the design of a new website.

Next month I hope to go to St Petersburg, but only today, two weeks before the beginning of the month. has the casting started to appear for May. As for June - it is nowhere in sight Not even the playbill is listed.

Just to really drive home how completely prehistoric MT is, today in the post (mail to you Americans) I received my Friends of Covent Garden quarterly magazine together with fully illustrated 90 page Season Guide for 2013/14. This lists every single ballet and opera scheduled for the whole Royal Opera House season up until mid June 2014, with each performance date and time and also when booking opens for each part of the season. Every ballet and opera has an illustrated synopsis. Also, the magazine gives every casting until end January.

I consider Mariinsky Theatre to be the greatest in the world, yet its technology, PR, publicity and management are probably some of the worst. The dancers themselves do not know what they will be dancing often until it appears on the website. Ballet-goers are forced to "buy blind" at extortionate prices, often without any prior knowledge of casts. St Petersburg residents and tourists alike, no-one even knows what will be on the playbill until the month before. This is a ridiculous situation.

What do others think of this?

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Companies that rely mainly on famous stars to sell tickets seem to announce casting very early. ABT is a good example of this. They listed principal casting last fall for subscriber sales for the Met season that doesn't open until next month. Of course, changes have already been made due to injury (Hallberg, e.g.) and it seems likely others will be made (Royal just tweeted that Cojocaru has cancelled two performances in April -- will she make it to the ABT Swan Lake in June?), but that's something you learn to live with in ballet.

NYCB only announces casting two weeks in advance, presumably because you're coming to see repertory, not specific dancers. At least they announce the ballets for the whole season, although there have been a few substitutions there, too, in the past year.

It does seem odd that the ballets for the year aren't announced at Mariinsky. Perhaps there is too much turmoil to know. If the dancers don't know either, perhaps they need a (better) union. But here, in April, we know nothing about the ABT rep after mid-July, even though we know the dates of the fall NY season.

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I also am planning a trip to St. Petersburg (for early June)--and honestly I am sort of outraged that with less than six weeks to go until June 1 they cannot even announce the ballets and operas to be performed for an annual festival that they themselves consider an international affair and that surely has to be largely planned WAY in advance. That is, whatever the turmoil, I don't even find it all that plausible that they don't have a pretty good idea at least of what works they are scheduling even if exact casting dates have not been finalized. It's not like you can (typically) telephone Netrebko or Cojocaru a few months ahead of time and start to chat about what might work for them. Lack of a schedule has also made it more difficult to plan the rest of my trip. (Needless to say I've given up any idea of knowing casts; I just want to know the ballets/operas and be able to buy the tickets.)

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Tiara, I think things have gotten worse and you are absolutely right. Fateyev is a big FLOP as Artistic Director in so many ways, and this is yet another example.

It is absolutely ridiculous that the White Nights Festival begins on May 24 and only May ballets are listed. People want to book airfare, hotels, etc. but they have no idea what nights to be in St. Petersburg, because there is no schedule at all for the White Nights Festival.

It is unbelievable that people have to basically buy airfare and hotel and hope the dates they chose to visit coincide with ballets and operas they want to see. For some people it is a trip of a lifetime, yet apparently the administration of the Mariinsky could care less.

And the White Nights Festival usually showcases some international (non-Mariinsky) stars at least in opera, so some sort of planning must go on, since many famous opera stars are booked up 5 years in advance, so calling them up in May to appear at the White Nights in June would not work, although they do have openings and holes in their schedule sometimes and a big fee for one concert can get them motivated to take on a gig during their vacation, I suspect. But still.....some kind of planning has to happen, so they should know by now and post the information.

I suspect the planning for Mariinsky II has made this year especially crazy but it is truly ridiculous. I can give them a pass on casting, but why don't they at least know what ballets they are planning to do? And if they know, then they should list them on the site, so people can make travel plans. I suspect airfare goes up the closer you wait until summer.

I have not followed ballet as long as opera, but I remember the White Nights Festival advertised in ads for opera tours in Opera News and the ad would say which ballets, so I think things are really getting bad. There are no tours to the White Nights Festival listed in this May's Opera News (despite it being the issue that announces European Summer Festivals) that just came in the mail, because apparently nobody at the Mariinsky knows what they are doing in June. If any of you subscribe to Opera News check out the listings for Italy. Lots of festivals are listed with operas and dates. I never thought Italy would seem really on the ball!!!!!! But compared to the Mariinsky, the Italian festivals are anal retentive and ultra organized!!!! This is unbelievable!!!

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Drew posted right while I was typing and said basically the same thing and was more succinct! LOL I mean that as a compliment.

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NYCB announces casting a week ahead of time, but the programs, published months in advance, don't change very often. PNB has a fixed program. For.each two-week rep, and I don't remember much changing after the summer, once the budget is finalized. They announce most casting ten days in advance of the first performance of the week in general, but sometimes announce Principal casting for both weeks ten days before the first week.

How far in advance does POB announce casting? I've never followed their website: I've always planned visits around rep, rather than casting.

I'm guessing the Mariinsky does this because it can: if there was a shortage of people buying tickets, they might change their policy.

I always wondered about thr Royal Ballet season announcement press rele!ses with casting. 1. How do they know dancers will be healthy enough 14 months in advance and 2. It really solidifies a hierarchy, since a dancer who's having a great season either has to sit out ballets for which they'd be cast in a company that finalizes decisions later or has to bump someone who's been announced.

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NYCB announces casting a week ahead of time, but the programs, published months in advance, don't change very often. PNB has a fixed program. For.each two-week rep, and I don't remember much changing after the summer, once the budget is finalized. They announce most casting ten days in advance of the first performance of the week in general, but sometimes announce Principal casting for both weeks ten days before the first week.

How far in advance does POB announce casting? I've never followed their website: I've always planned visits around rep, rather than casting.

I'm guessing the Mariinsky does this because it can: if there was a shortage of people buying tickets, they might change their policy.

I always wondered about thr Royal Ballet season announcement press rele!ses with casting. 1. How do they know dancers will be healthy enough 14 months in advance and 2. It really solidifies a hierarchy, since a dancer who's having a great season either has to sit out ballets for which they'd be cast in a company that finalizes decisions later or has to bump someone who's been announced.

Yes, perhaps Mariinsky does this because it can, but it does not display a very good shopfront to the world. The opening of the new theatre was long known about and any efficiently run company would have had the website prepared for this occasion. I do think their lack of efficiency in this regard shows a total disregard for dancers and audiences alike.

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Drew & others, count your lucky stars that any casting comes out one month in advance, via any means. Not so long ago (mid 1990s), I remember going to the front of the Mariinsky Theater to check-out 'final casting' on the posters on the walls. Several of us uber-fans used to wait across the street on Mondays, knowing that the posters would be going up sometime that day.

re. the Website: It is indeed prehistoric and in need of a serious management/upkeep change. The arrogant webmaster(s) have yet to respond to my emails pointing out that Alina Somova never performed in Canada during the Feb/March 2011 tour; i.e., they never altered their 'tour recap press release' which -- to this day -- still states that Somova triumphantly opened the Toronto leg of that 2011 tour with Swan Lake, when all of us who were there saw Terioshkina dance instead!

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I think I can live with late casting info, but not knowing which ballets are being performed in June (if you are someone planning to go in June) for White Nights is crazy. I am glad I decided to go in March and cancelled my plan to go in June b/c I would have absolutely no idea what dates to book my hotel or airfare. I don't like to stay away from my dog for more than a week, so it would be awlful trying to wonder which week to book. Not to mention some people need to ask for the time off from work. So there are so many logistics. A listing of the ballets and operas should be out. We are into the second half of April now, and White Nights starts May 24 (granted, the May ballets are listed but no word about June and July).

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I think I can live with late casting info, but not knowing which ballets are being performed in June (if you are someone planning to go in June) for White Nights is crazy. I am glad I decided to go in March and cancelled my plan to go in June b/c I would have absolutely no idea what dates to book my hotel or airfare. I don't like to stay away from my dog for more than a week, so it would be awlful trying to wonder which week to book. Not to mention some people need to ask for the time off from work. So there are so many logistics. A listing of the ballets and operas should be out. We are into the second half of April now, and White Nights starts May 24 (granted, the May ballets are listed but no word about June and July).

Poor puppy.

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I wouldn't prefer to go in blind, especially if I knew that something I wanted to see was going to be presented sometime, and by choosing randomly, I could miss it. On the other hand, if my goal was to attend the Festival, I might just pick a time and go, much like people do for Bayreuth: a ticket, any ticket.

What I think the shopfront to the world is "Come to the Mariinsky, and no matter what you are privileged to see, it will be excellent." As long as the theaters are filled with locals and visitors, it's working as well as they want it to, however perverse that is for people who discriminate. It's certainly easier logistically.

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I think I can live with late casting info, but not knowing which ballets are being performed in June (if you are someone planning to go in June) for White Nights is crazy. I am glad I decided to go in March and cancelled my plan to go in June b/c I would have absolutely no idea what dates to book my hotel or airfare. I don't like to stay away from my dog for more than a week, so it would be awlful trying to wonder which week to book. Not to mention some people need to ask for the time off from work. So there are so many logistics. A listing of the ballets and operas should be out. We are into the second half of April now, and White Nights starts May 24 (granted, the May ballets are listed but no word about June and July).

Poor puppy.

Are you referring to my dog? LOL She goes to daycare most days to play with other dogs, so it was probably only the weekends that she missed me on my trip. My partner took care of her at night and weekends. This week I am driving down to Sarasota to see La Fille mal Gardee (Ashton) and I chose the Thursday night performance so that I would be back by Friday so I am home with her on the weekend! My friends all say they want to be my dog, because she has a Tsarina's life!!! I don't think she's ever spent an entire day at home by herself. If I keep her home she gets two walks or dog park visits. Otherwise, she goes to daycare.

To get back on topic, this is one of the things we consider when taking trips. We want our "babies" (dogs) to be well taken care of.....if I did not have a partner I would need to board her, or ask a friend to take care of her, so this is an extra thing that we have to plan for when traveling, so it would be a HUGE help to actually know which ballets are playing when, so we know what dates to book flights and hotels.

I think Helene is right. They can fill the house no matter what so they don't care. But once Mariinsky II is open and you have two houses to fill every night it "might" (maybe not, but maybe) be harder to fill both houses. Then, the tables might turn. They might need to inform us of what is playing before we get on a plane. Maybe not.

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I wouldn't prefer to go in blind, especially if I knew that something I wanted to see was going to be presented sometime, and by choosing randomly, I could miss it. On the other hand, if my goal was to attend the Festival, I might just pick a time and go, much like people do for Bayreuth: a ticket, any ticket.

What I think the shopfront to the world is "Come to the Mariinsky, and no matter what you are privileged to see, it will be excellent." As long as the theaters are filled with locals and visitors, it's working as well as they want it to, however perverse that is for people who discriminate. It's certainly easier logistically.

The timing of my trip was dictated largely (though not entirely) by work considerations: in that sense, it makes no difference. I still consider the situation absurd. It basically shows contempt for the audience--which I don't doubt is part of the attitude behind it.

For the rest, I wonder if it is easier logistically for the dancers: no-one is talking about planning ahead 14 months--just 2 (I expected announcements for June in March).

But, yes, of course they "can" do things this way, so why shouldn't they if they wish? It remains up to the Mariinsky to decide if that last is really a rhetorical question or if there are not some good answers when it come to the international prestige of the theater or even its long-term financial health. (Covent Garden does international fund-raising.)

Like Birdsall, I'm not particularly concerned with casting at this stage (of course I would prefer to know but that's a secondary consideration and I'm an NYCB fan of old--I often buy tickets w/o knowing casts). However, i would like to know what ballets are on, what operas are on etc. Or...uh...what nights are ballet nights and what nights are opera nights. (I do enjoy the opera--but the idea that "Come to the Mariinsky..." and it makes no difference whether it's Aida or The Gambler seems rather comical to me, even if I agree that that is their attitude. The Gambler--just as an example--I would very much like to see at the Mariinsky; Aida I would take a pass unless with a strong cast or particularly admired production. I suppose I might get a ticket for an opera I didn't care to see if it was my ONLY opportunity to sit in the theater. But in any case I would like to know more than a few weeks before I go.)

And deep down I just remain skeptical that it can be a good sign (logistically or artistically) of how things are running backstage that less than 6 weeks before June 1, the theater can't/won't announce repertory.

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I'm on the same page as you, Drew, and if I chose randomly, I know I'd end up with "Carmen."

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I co-sign Tiara's, Natalia's and Birdsall's posts. In my experience, the Mariinsky Ballet management has scrambled up to the11th hour to cast ballets. Personally, I can't stand the disclaimer "TBA." If you wish to book ahead, good luck with that, because there's no telling who or what you will get. That's true at home and when they tour. If a star is featured in a major work,it will be advertised to the nth degree, i.e. "So and so in..." whatever ballet. On the other hand, when a major work is not a 'benefit' performance for the star, and a routine night, when the ticket sales near capacity, slip the current favorite in sometimes as late as 48 hours prior to curtain. I've posted time and time again that the site is not only antiquated, but it's essentially a hommage to Maestro Gergiev, the Orchestra, the Opera and musicians whom he has invited to perform at the Concert Hall. This reflects the main focus of the General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. The Ballet is incidental.

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Is the website's Russian version any better? Not about casting or scheduling, which could be run against a machine translator, but the bios and other info?

Can anyone shed light on the economics of the opera vs. the ballet? The ballet was a touring cash cow, especially after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and kept the company afloat long enough to be rescued. The opera tours, but not nearly as much as the ballet, and the top singers at the Mariinsky are much more likely to spend extended periods outside Russia, at the Met, Paris Opera, Covent Garden, etc.

Gergiev courts ballet donors actively: are they that taken by Gergiev that they don't care if the ballet is neglected, or do they not realize the ballet is neglected because the brand is so strong?

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I co-sign Tiara's, Natalia's and Birdsall's posts. In my experience, the Mariinsky Ballet management has scrambled up to the11th hour to cast ballets. Personally, I can't stand the disclaimer "TBA." If you wish to book ahead, good luck with that, because there's no telling who or what you will get. That's true at home and when they tour. If a star is featured in a major work, it will be advertised to the nth degree, i.e. "So and so in..." whatever ballet. On the other hand, when a major work is not a 'benefit' performance for the star, and a routine night, when the ticket sales near capacity, they slip the current favorite in sometimes as late as 48 hours prior to curtain. I've posted time and time again that the site is not only antiquated, but it's essentially a hommage to Maestro Gergiev, the Orchestra, the Opera and musicians whom he has invited to perform at the Concert Hall. This reflects the main focus of the General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. The Ballet is incidental.

Yes, the ballet is incidental and not high on Gergiev's agenda. And, with the current frequent casting of such dancers as Kampa and Skorik, I am afraid I do wish to know casting in advance so that I can avoid these dancers. And in the current financial climate at MT, where it is not the best, most talented dancers who get to perform, yes, I do want to know in advance exactly which dancers I will be seeing. The wonderful performances the audiences deserve to see are few and far between, and there are many discerning balletomanes who deserve to be able to have a choice of who to see. Mariinsky management is guilty of extreme arrogance in thinking any name will sell its performances out. They need to look at the displeasure expressed by members of this and other forums and realize that knowledgeable fans are not happy about who is being given roles, and that this information needs to be shown on their antiquated website long in advance so that audiences can have the opportunity to vote with their feet and veto these performances. Perhaps MT management thinks the only way they will sell tickets to see certain dancers is if the audiences do not know until the last minute that they will be performing? I will continue going to see the Mariinsky, but I will not waste my money on seeing dancers who I know are not worthy to be dancing on the Mariinsky stage. I want to see a detailed playbill with detailed casting before I buy my tickets and Mariinsky management needs to take the wishes of its audience into consideration.

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...Can anyone shed light on the economics of the opera vs. the ballet? The ballet was a touring cash cow, especially after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and kept the company afloat long enough to be rescued. The opera tours, but not nearly as much as the ballet, and the top singers at the Mariinsky are much more likely to spend extended periods outside Russia, at the Met, Paris Opera, Covent Garden, etc.

Gergiev courts ballet donors actively: are they that taken by Gergiev that they don't care if the ballet is neglected, or do they not realize the ballet is neglected because the brand is so strong?

The main claim to fame of the Mariinsky Theatre, in Imperial, Soviet and the present time has been the Ballet. Unfortunately, unlike the Paris Opera, the Mariinsky's site doesn't post its annual demographic and financial stats. Here is an example of transparency; specifically, please see pages 40 - 52: http://www.operadepa...ris_en_2011.pdf. The Paris Opera posts a comprehensive study of the previous season, giving equal time to its Ballet and Opera. The Mariinsky Theatre notes at the bottom of its home page that we can follow it on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and yet, we can't get casting details in advance, nor the kind of detailed analysis that Opera Garnier offers. Yes, Maestro Gergiev actively solicits donors for the brand wherever he can find it as do all Directors. However, it's the Mariinsky's ballet donors who have historically stepped up to the plate, because they know that's where this brand's bread is buttered.

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I agree with the above. When I was a hardcore opera lover before I became a traitor and turned ballet lover I had absolutely no intention of ever going to the Mariinsky for opera. I have some cds and videos of their rare Russian operas and enjoyed them, but that is the main interest in the Mariinsky for hardcore opera lovers. I don't think most opera lovers would ever plan a trip to Russia to see Turandot, Pelleas et Melisande, or Aida. But they might plan a trip to see several rare Russian operas.

I think Gergiev has been trying for years to bring the opera side of the company up to the same level and esteem that the ballet is on, but it simply hasn't happened. I am not saying you can't get a good performance of opera at the Mariinsky. It is just that despite all his effort the Mariinsky is really not in the same league as the Met or La Scala or even Vienna State Opera. Opera lovers dream of going to La Scala or La Fenice or Bayreuth, but not the Mariinsky. Maybe if someone is obsessed with Russian opera he/she would go to the Mariinsky, but basically opera lovers would usually choose another pilgrimage.

But ballet is a different story. I think most would want to make a pilgrimage to the Mariinsky for ballet. Gergiev needs to open his eyes and realize he has a diamond (ballet) he is not shining while he is trying to turn bronze into gold (opera).

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There was a time when only the names of the ballets mattered, but now, who is being given the leading roles is not the same as before. In the past, there was always a good dancer in the leading roles, but now you often have a terrible dancer in a leading role. Nobody wants to pay Gergiev prices for lousy stars.

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Historically, ballet directors have been experienced businessmen, with Kekhman at Mikhailovsky as a current example. It is generally not advisable to have a director of opera or music or ballet as director of the entire theatre, making decisions on his speciality and possibly discriminating against one of the other areas, particularly if he is known as not liking one field, which is its most important field. Gergiev has proved that he is not qualified to run the entire theatre due to his obvious discrimination against the field which has built the Mariinsky tradition during Tsarist times, during Soviet times and today: BALLET. Anyone looking at ticket prices will realize that Gergiev knows which is his money maker because ballet performances have much higher prices than operas and concerts. Opera and concerts will offer many more discount tickets to Russian citizens than what is offered for ballet.

Gergiev knows which is his top money maker, but he treats the ballet company like slaves and the opera and music company much more favorably. Anyone looking at what has been happening with the May playbill, will see that MT1 opera casting came out more than 7 days prior to ballet casting and the final 5 ballets currently shown have no casts. Today, MT2 programs have been listed for the end of the month, but only operas and concerts have been listed today, no ballets. There are 11 days of MT2 performances with many open dates and no ballets shown.

Gergiev may charge much more money for ballet, but he treats ballet as being subservient to opera and music.

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Tiara, I think it would make more sense to have a General Director who cares deeply about both art forms or a businessman, as you say. A businessman would at least recognize the money the ballet brings in and say, "We need to support the ballet and promote it to the public b/c it is so loved and makes so much money!" But things are how they are. I bet it won't change UNFORTUNATELY!!!! icon8.gif

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Still nothing on Mariinsky site about June, but BalletandOpera.com claims Sleeping Beauty for opening days of June and says 1st is already sold out; for 2nd only very poor seats left. I find this very puzzling -- I had decided not to use their site because of their high mark up and also because I had read suggestions by Ballet fans on the web (can't remember if it was here at Ballet Talk or not) that one should not trust any announcement not directly from the site of the theater. Also I had followed BalletandOpera.Com's own site instructions about getting announcements as soon as they occured and they did not follow up, so I was a little dubious about their "guarantees" as a business anyway. Still would welcome any advice, comments, suggestions.

I would be thrilled to see Sleeping Beauty--either Mariinsky version, whatever casts--while there. And would certainly pay a mark up rather than miss it or indeed be willing to pay a mark up if I could get better seats.

Seriously if I'm in Petersburg and the Mariinsky dances Sleeping Beauty and I miss it, I will throw myself in the Neva.

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That is bizarre that the Mariinsky itself has not announced it yet the BalletandOpera.com site has and it is almost sold out. I don't know what to tell you b/c I purchased from the Mariinsky's website, but I totally understand your worry and thoughts about using the other site. Hopefully someone on here has used BalletandOpera.com and can advise.

Maybe the shows are being sold to tour groups? Otherwise, it makes no sense.

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Seriously if I'm in Petersburg and the Mariinsky dances Sleeping Beauty and I miss it, I will throw myself in the Neva.

rofl.GIF

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