Estates Theatre

Photo by: Jérôme Schneider, CC

The Estates Theatre is located in Prague, Czech Republic. This historical theater was annexed in 1948 to the National Theatre. Currently, it houses three artistic organizations which include ballet, opera, and drama. They hold performances at the Estates Theater, the Kolowrat Theatre and the National Theatre. The Estates Theater will be forever connected to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart because it premiered two of his very famous operas.

History of the Estates Theatre

Many consider this theater to be one of the most beautiful historical buildings in Europe. The theater is a classicist eighteenth century structure. Aristocrat Count Nostitz, a German who was born in Prague, commissioned the Estates Theatre and it was designed by Anton Haffenecker along with Sebastian Kunigl. In 1783, the theater opened with a performance of Lessing’s Emilia Galotti.

The theater was originally called the Nostitz Theatre, for its founder. At first the plays were only performed in Italian and German, but later on performances were added in Czech in order to attract more audiences. The theater added matinee performances during this period.

In 1786, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro was performed at the Estates Theatre. On October 29, 1787, Mozart conducted his new opera called Don Giovanni, at the Nostitz Theatre. Mozart composed this opera especially for Prague, a city where he was very popular.

The La Clemenza di Tito opera was premiered by Mozart in 1791, to celebrate the King Leopold II’s coronation. In 1834, the song “Kde domov muj” which later become the country’s national anthem was performed at this theater for the very first time.

Name Changes

In 1798, the Czech Estates bought the theater and the name changed to the Royal Theatre of the Estates. The theater then became a German ensemble exclusively and it was renamed to the Royal Provincial German Theatre. From 1920 to 1948, the theater was once again called the Estates Theatre and became part of the National Theatre. The theater changed its name to the Tyl Theatre in 1948. After eight years of renovation work, the theater changed its name back to its historical one in 1990.

20th Century Performances

After the National Theatre and the Estates Theatre merged in 1920, drama performances were featured. At first, the plays were not serious but later more serious productions were performed. In 1934, the musical comedy called Fidlovacka was performed in the theater for the very first time. Important first performances included the White Plague by Karel Capek. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, many notable Czech producers, such as Alfred Radok and Otomar Krejca, played a very active role and many original Czech plays were presented by authors František Hrubín, Josef Topol and Milan Kundera. The theater’s opera company focused on Mozart operas.

This theater has been rebuilt many times, and the last reconstruction project was completed in 1991. The building still has its original wood interiors, as well as original decorations. Today, many people enjoy concerts, opera, plays and ballets at the Estates Theatre. Most Mozart productions occur during the summer season. This season appeals to many visitors and there are performances every day of the week. Tickets to the theater can be bought online.

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