November 01, 2006

Fyodor Volkov

the founding of Russia’s first public theater

It is 1756. More than a quarter century has passed since the death of Peter the Great. By now, no one has the slightest thought of opposing his reforms. The nobility has long since made peace with the notions of shaving their beards and permitting their wives and daughters to dance with other men at balls while wearing décolleté dresses. Everyone has grown accustomed to the fact that the capital has been moved to St. Petersburg. 

A few years after Peter’s death (under Peter II), the court moved back to Moscow, with all the other denizens of the northern capital following the aristocrats’ lead. For a time, the streets of St. Petersburg were overgrown with weeds. It seemed that this city, born through the force of Peter’s will, would soon vanish, retreating into the Finnish swamps from which it had so unexpectedly risen. 

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