The history of this, Russia's oldest drama theatre, begins in 1756, when Russia got its first permanent, professional and public drama company. The group took up residence in the Malyi's yellow-white 1824 building in the late nineteenth century. At that time also, the Malyi became fully independent from the neighbouring Bolshoi. The theatre's repertoire includes historical and classical plays. The Malyi Theatre is sometimes known as the house of Alexander Ostrovsky; all of his 47 plays were staged here. Peter Tchaikovsky liked the place as well and in 1879 the Malyi held the premiere of Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin.
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