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Entries / "Aquarium"


Categories / Art/Music, Theatre/Stage, Cabaret, Variety Shows
Categories / City Topography/Green Areas/Gardens, Orchards

"AQUARIUM", an entertainment theatre-garden, set by entrepreneur G.A. Alexandrov (died in 1910), who took a lease on a piece of land at Kamennoostrovsky Avenue in 1886 (on the site of present-day houses Nos. 10-12) and laid out a garden there with a big aquarium (hence the name). Originally Alexandrov intended to hold lectures on the life of fish and water plants. E. Engel symphony orchestra and A.A. Arkhangelsky's chorus performed at the kiosk of the "Aquarium". In 1888, a theatre building was erected in the territory of the garden out of glass and iron (named Iron or Glass Theatre) with dinner tables in the hall. That resulted in the change of the character of concert programs and appearance of wealthy audience. Among the performers of "Aquarium" were renowned "chantant" singers, such as A. Judic, Motre, Odeo et al. In 1888, a decorative Ice House was built here. In 1896 "Aquarium" hosted the first cinema show in Russia. In the 1900s, "Aquarium" turned into a top class chantant cafe, where drama plays were performed on the open stage. In 1908, the biggest variety theatre in St. Petersburg which admitted 300 tables was built in the territory of the garden: such performers as Varya Panina, A.D. Vyaltseva, A.M. Davydov and V.N. Davydov, K.A. Varlamov, L. Cavalieri, G. Fabiani et al. appeared, along with the gypsy choruses of N.I. Shishkin and A.N. Masalsky. In 1907 "Aquarium" hosted one of the first beauty contests in Russia. In 1912, an artificial ice rink was built here, the first in the country. In the 1900s masquerades were held regularly in the garden, along with the processions of "tableaux vivants", fire works and festivities. "Aquarium" was visited by A.A. Blok, I.A. Kuprin, M. Gorky, L.N. Andreev, N.S. Gumilev et al. During the First World War, the territory of the garden accommodated a field hospital. In 1916, the garden was granted on lease to A.M. Davydov, a singer of the Mariinsky Theatre (together with N.P. Glyass), who planned to open an Italian opera theatre in "Aquarium". After October 1917, the life of "Aquarium" died. In 1920, the Pink Hall of the theatre hosted soirees of M.Y. Yuriev and E.I. Time; the symphony orchestra of the Political Administration of Petrograd Military District also performed there. During NEP (New Economic Policy) the theatre belonged to the heirs of Alexandrov. In 1923, the site of "Aquarium" was taken up for the building of a film production unit "Sevzapkino" (North-West Cinema; named Lenfilm from 1934) and a residential building. One of the sections of a former garden accommodates a small public garden with replanted plants.

References: Кузнецов Е. М. Из прошлого русской эстрады: Ист. очерки. М., 1958. С. 272-276; Алянский Ю. Л. Увеселительные заведения старого Петербурга. СПб., 1996. С. 18-20.

Y. N. Kruzhnov.

Alexandrov Georgy Alexandrovich
Andreev Leonid Nikolaevich
Arkhangelsky Alexander Andreevich
Blok G.P.
Cavalieri Lina (Natalina)
Davydov (Levinson) Alexander Mikhailovich
Davydov Vladimir Nikolaevich
Engel E.
Fabiani G.
Glyass N.P.
Gorky Maxim (Alexey Maximovich Peshkov)
Gumilev Nikolay Stepanovich
Judic (Damiens) Anna
Kuprin Alexander Ivanovich
Kuznetsov Evgeny Mikhailovich
Masalsky Alexey Nikitich
Panina Varvara Vasilievna
Shishkin Nikolay Ivanovich
Time Elizaveta Ivanovna
Varlamov Konstantin Alexandrovich
Vyaltseva Anastasiya Dmitrievna
Yuryev Yury Mikhailovich

Kamennoostrovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 10
Kamennoostrovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 12

Кузнецов Е. М. Из прошлого русской эстрады: Ист. очерки. М., 1958

The subject Index
Lenfilm, Film Studio