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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin met with heads of the Maly Theater (Moscow) and Alexandra Theater (St. Petersburg).

    They discussed preparations for the forthcoming 2006 celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Empress Elisabeth's order, which gave a start to Russia's state policy in the sphere of theater art.

    Vladimir Putin wants this holiday to point out the importance of Russian theater for the spiritual life.

    Artistic director of the Maly Theater Yuri Solomin came out for joint celebration of this anniversary by Russia's oldest theater companies and for overall Russian theater festival. Theaters from Vladivostok (Far East) and Yaroslavl (Central Russia) can meet in Yekaterinburg (Urals) and hold a gala performance there, he said.

    According to director general of the Maly Theater Viktor Korshunov, the forthcoming anniversary should be a grandiose event both for the Russian theater and Russian culture as a whole.

    The Russian theater derived from the Alexandra and Maly Theaters created by the empress' order in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Yuri Solomin noted. Our theatrical school still enjoys success, he added.

    The date of Elisabeth's order, August 30, 1756, is considered the birthday of such a unique phenomenon as the Russian state Theater.

    In 1759 the company formed in St. Petersburg was granted the status of the Imperial court theater supervised by the head of state.

    In 1832 the theater got a building erected by the outstanding architect Carlo Rossi. Later the theater was given the name of Empress Alexandra, the wife of Nicholas II, who was an active art patron.

    The order of August 30, 1756 also boosted the formation of a similar company in Moscow attached to Moscow University. Architect Bove created a special building for this theater in 1824. It was called the Maly Theater since then.

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