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Leading Russian ballet and opera company the Mariinsky is preparing to officially open its new home.

The Mariinsky Two theatre has been built just behind the original one, which was founded in the eighteenth century and was the birthplace of classic ballets including Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.

Members of staff and war veterans were among those in the first audience on May 1, for a preview performance ahead of the theatre’s official opening.

War veteran Nina Suchilina said: “It’s a wonderful theatre both for us and for the guests of Saint Petersburg, as the old Mariinsky cannot seat all the guests. It’s a palace for our cultural capital.”

Pianist Denis Matsuyev was delighted by the sound, saying: “The acoustics of the new theatre are magnificent, like air, like crystal. The technical possibilities of the theatre are splendid.”

Mariinsky Two, built for a cost of 500 million euros, will officially open with a gala event on May 2. President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend.

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