This acclaimed and unusual theatre was the brainchild of Natalia Sats, a woman who devoted her life to children's theatre as a producer and director. In 1918, when Sats was only fifteen years old, she oversaw the founding of the first theatre in Russia specifically for children, the Mossoviet Central Children's Theatre. She played a huge part in developing a repertoire for children's theatre, not least by prompting Prokofiev to compose Peter and the Wolf. As the wife of Marshal Tukhachevsky, one of the eight top Red Army commanders purged by Stalin in 1937 for supposedly collaborating with the Nazis, Sats was condemned to sixteen years in the gulag, but returned to Moscow in the late fifties with her enthusiasm for the theatre undimmed.
Her plans for an opera and ballet theatre were somewhat hampered by the lack of works composed for children and the reluctance of singers and dancers to commit themselves to such a project. Her indefatigable energy triumphed, however, and the theatre was founded in 1965, developing a strong repertoire from close work with contemporary composers. Originally housed in a tiny concert hall, the theatre was eventually given a fitting home in its present location, a purpose-built space with two stages, the main stage roughly equal in size to that in the Metropolitan Opera House, and almost as well equipped.
Sats' ambition with her theatre was both to create new productions specifically aimed at a younger audience, and to present the classics in a way that made them accessible to children. The repertoire today reflects her plans and, alongside new versions of fairytales such as Puss in Boots, Snow White and The Frog Princess, there are also productions of 'adult' operas like Madame Butterfly and Evgeniy Onegin. The company has an international reputation for the high quality of its performers, often younger singers and dancers on their way to greater things. Every effort is made by the theatre to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for younger children and, while it may not be that easy to get kids enthusiastic about opera and ballet, it's well worth the effort to catch one of the skilled and charming performances here.
Address: 5, Prospekt Vernadskogo, Moscow, 117296, Russia
Transport: Universitet Metro Station
Internet: http://www.teatr-sats.ru/english/index.htm is a comprehensive version of the theatre's site, which includes regularly updated listings, and clips from many of the productions.