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The second stage of the world-famous Mariinsky Theater receives its first spectators.
It has taken almost $600 million to build "the best theater building in the world", according to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky.
The company's artistic director Valery Gergiev is also pleased with the new opera house,"the troupe needs the new stage like living creatures need oxygen", he said during the stage's construction.
Mariinsky II was designed by the Canadian firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects who, despite the theater's impressive history, had no desire of replicating 18th-century St.Petersburg in their design.
This modern approach, however, has not been universally embraced. "An average architecture student would have done a better job" said architect Mikhail Sarri of St.Petersburg's planning council.