In this post I am going to tell you about the masquerade event, which I stumbled upon randomly while walking around Saint Petersburg in the summer of 2014. The masquerade was put together by actors and theater directors from around the city to honor the 200th Anniversary of Mikhail Lermontov.
I was walking along the Nevskiy Prospect looking for St. Isaac’s Cathedral and decided to cut through the Alexander Garden. Originally I wasn’t planning on spending much time in there, but what I saw changed my plans. A crowd of people wearing different costumes caught my attention. Some people were in the suits and dresses worn by the 19th century aristocrats, while some were dressed as mythical creatures like angels and demons. This sight raised my curiosity and made me investigate what was going on in the park.
Thanks to the posters and banners hanging around the park, I was able to find out that the Alexander Garden was hosting a masquerade ball in honor of Lermontov’s 200th anniversary. Mikhail Lermontov is one of the greatest writers in the history of Russian literature. By his popularity he trails only Pushkin or Tolstoi. Lermontov was killed at a duel at the age of 26 but even in his short life he left an enormous cultural legacy which later influenced many Russian writers and poets of 19th and 20th centuries. His works, that combined civil, philosophical and personal motives, is relevant to the lives of Russian society even today.
But let’s get back to the masquerade. As I found out, all of the costumes worn by the actors and participants were connected to Lermontov’s pieces of work. I could easily identify the characters from his stories “Hero of Our Time”, “Demon”, “Prisoner of the Mountains”, “Masquerade”, and many others (I don’t want to bother you with every single piece of work that was present there).
Some of these characters were simply walking around the park, some were acting out the scenes from the stories, some were reading Lermontov’s poetry, and some even managed to play out full theatrical pieces. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find out if all of the participants were professional actors or just admirers of Lermontov’s work.
One thing I want to emphasize is that the atmosphere surrounding the park was simply unbelievable. All of the masquerade participants were kind hearted and welcoming. They gladly posed for pictures with the visitors and were not camera shy at all. All of the posing was done without breaking a character. All of the actors truly transformed into the characters they played, including a prideful highlander, addicted gambler, greedy creditor, and an innocent bride.
This event was very well organized with actors doing an outstanding job performing their roles. It was a pleasure to the eye and I am glad that I was able to participate in this event, especially considering that I was not aware of it. After walking around the park and fully enjoying the masquerade, I returned to my original plan of making it to the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Luckily, it was located just five minutes away from the Alexander Garden. I will tell you about that beauty of architectural design in another post.