The imposing façade is the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Samara, the largest in Russia, it opened in June 1931 with a production of Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov. The city is on the banks of the Volga in South East European Russia and was the place the first manned spaceship to orbit the earth was built at Samara Progress Plant. My sender, Vitaly, tells me that the Opera Theatre has recently been resorted inside and out. Originally called the Palace of Culture it stands in the central square (Kuibyshev). Looking on their website they have an extensive, and varied programme of events. If you were lucky enough to be walking through the doors and into the ornate interior next week then
you would be treated to a cornucopia of operas dedicated to the memory of Irina Arkhipova (1925-2010), the "Queen of Russian Opera" and star of the world opera stage, seen above in her role of Mary Stuart. Which night would you choose? There is Madam Butterfly, Prince Igor, Rigoletto, The Tsar's Bride and lots more to enjoy. But lets go back in time, to the second world war, when Samara would have been the capitol of Russia if Moscow had fallen to the invading German army, the Bolshoi Ballet were performing on the stage and the premier of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony was played here. Appropriately the card came with
one of the "Weapons of the Victory" series of Tanks issued in June 2010. This is the T34-85 which was the improved 1944 version of the T34 light tank, the name coming from the very long 85mm gun which apparently you had to be careful not to get stuck into the ground on certain terrain, there was a three man turret so plenty of eyes and hands to prevent that. The German Panther was a bigger and more heavily armoured tank but the Soviets produced the T34 in such numbers that it became the most important tank design of the war. Happily those days are long gone so I'll move on to the other stamp Vitaly used
from the Bridges of Russia set, namely the Bridge over the Matsesta Valley, Sochi, which looks to be my favourite form, the viaduct. Sochi is on the Black Sea Coast and will be the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games so there has been a lot of building of both road and rail bridges and tunnels for the event. There is vague link to the card because Vitaly told me another world sporting event to be held in the city of the card, Samara, which is the World Football Championship in 2018 (the stadium has not been built yet) . All roads lead to Russia in the sporting world and they will encounter the message Vitaly finished the card "Welcome to Russia!"