Closing of the Fountains Spectacular
The Tsars had several summer palaces outside St Petersburg. The first summer palace that I was able to visit was Peterhof and during my visit I was able to watch an amazing Spectacular. This show was celebrating the closing of the fountains for the winter season.
Peterhof (Russian: Петергоф) is a large area of land that contains several palaces and spacious gardens. You can get to Peterhof by land (bus or train) or you can take a boat, which leaves from the Neva River near the Winter Palace in the heart of St. Petersburg. It was built by Tsar Peter I (known as Peter the Great) and was expanded by his successors to its present day layout. The thing that impressed me most about Peterhof besides the beautiful designs of the palaces was the many gardens and the fountains. It seemed like the garden was one giant maze and since I went during the evening, it was exciting to explore the various paths while the sun was setting. Another wonderful sight was walking towards the Gulf of Finland and watching the sun set over the water. Even though the evening was bringing cooler temperatures, the atmosphere was very warm.
In Russia, 2015 is dedicated to celebrating the great historic tradition of Russian literature and the Specular featured ballet, opera scenes, and music that were influenced by Russian literary works. As a Russian musicologist, I was once again impressed by how important Russian musical history is to Russian present day culture. The show lasted about two hours and I took great pleasure in watching the reaction of the audience around me. The crowd was full of families and it made me smile watching children sit on their fathers’ shoulders and mothers dancing with their children to the music. During the show, we were able to experience the music and literary history from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. I was thrilled to see many of my favorite opera scenes live on stage and to be introduced to Russian classical music and ballet that I never heard or seen before. The highlight of the show was the usage of light. A huge projector turned the Grand Palace, which is located behind the Grande Cascade; into a movie screen and at various points in the show it turned into a bookcase that contained popular works by Russian authors. Throughout the Spectacular, there was a firework show that added to beauty of the show.
During my studies of Russian music, literature, and culture, I knew that celebrations of various kinds were a big aspect of the Russian tradition and it was great to experience one in person. I went to Peterhof with two girls I met in the International Dorm at UNICON, one from Germany and one from France, and it was great to discuss our opinion about the Spectacular and the overall impression of Peterhof. I cannot wait to visit Peterhof during the day, even if the fountains are closed for the season.