Ballet performances in St.Petersburg start either at 7 or at 8 p.m. and last for about 3 hours (it depends on the performance) with one break.
It is fashionable to arrive 30 minutes before the performance starts in order to walk around the theater building, to have a glass of Champagne and to read the program as a foretaste of the upcoming art treat. If though you have a packed program you can also manage to rush into the theater about 10 minutes before the performance starts, its your choice. But it is not recommended to be late - the doors to the stalls might be closed and the theater worker will lead you to the seats of a worse quality than those you paid for, where you will stay up to the break.
Many people believe that there is only one ballet theater in St.Petersburg: The Mariinsky (its name under Soviet regime was Kirovsky). That is not correct.
During tourist season up to 6 theaters offer ballet performances.
- If you are a real ballet expert, you will most probably stick to the number one - The Mariinsky. The quality of the performance is excellent, the building of the theater is historical and very interesting. The only "but" is the fact that the theater profits a lot from its popularity. Its rates are the highest in the city. I would not recommend you even considering tickets for less than 100USD per person, while the best can come to 250USD per person and more (the price depends on the performance and seat). I can not help feeling that you pay for Mariinsky brand as well as for the performance.
- Being local I would strongly recommend you to pay attention to Michailovsky (other name Musorgsky) theater. Traditionally number two in the city it has recently got a new director, a successful businessmen who has used all his passion for art, and financial resources, to give a new breath to the theater. Today it can boasts an impressive quantity of premiers, world class dancers and stage directors, new costumes and scenery. The theater occupies a historical building, again recently restored, located in the heart of the city.
- Just across the Square of Arts you will find the building of the Music Comedy theater, which also offers ballet performances during summer. It provided a good balance between quality and price, so if you are not an expert you will enjoy the performance here without any reservations.
- The performances which take place in Aleksandrovsky theater also offer a good balance between quality and price.
- Hermitage ballet performances should be mentioned separately. Located in the ex-private Royal theater, Hermitage performances also attract some interest. The authentic interiors are indeed impressive, which unfortunately can't be said about the ballet itself. If you like ballet and understand something about it I would suggest taking any other option to avoid disappointment. If you have never seen ballet and its quality is not a big deal for you then you will be one of the few people who have visited an authentic 18th century royal private theater.
- The cheapest in price but still very good in terms of quality are the ballets at St.Petersburg's music Conservatory concert hall. It is located across the street from the famous Mariinsky theater and that is where the dancers come from. It has a very modest hall instead of the imperially posh one at the Mariinsky, and it doesn't have the first stars - but even those who like and understand the nuances of ballet will be pleased with the performances at the Conservatory.
Please also have a look at my comments regarding the Dress code for Ballet & Opera performances.