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Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo)

This magnificent theatre building from 1783 was built in the classical style and is still preserved in nearly original condition. The theatre’s history is inseparable from the musical talent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – in particular with the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni, which is still included in the repertoire. The Estates Theatre is part of the National Theatre, and is the scene for drama, opera and ballet.

Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo), Železná, Praha 1 - Staré Město, 110 00
Web: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz, e-mail: info@narodni-divadlo.cz
tel.: +420224901448, +420224901111

Box offices opening hours:

  • At the National Theatre box offices (Mon-Fri 9 am-6 pm, Sat-Sun 10 am-6 pm, you can buy tickets for 5 months in advance. You can buy tickets for the performances of Opera, Ballet, Drama, Laterna magika at the National Theatre, the Estates Theatre and the New Stage.

Evening box offices:

  • 45 minutes before the beginning of performances the box offices are open at the National Theatre historical building and the Estates Theatre.

Ticket booking: on-line or via Ticketportal,  Bohemia Ticket, Colosseum Ticket, Ticket Art and Ticketpro.

Capacity: 659 seats

Tours of the Estates Theatre:

  • Guided tours for groups in Czech, English, German, French and Russian can be arranged by contacting the guided tours departement by phone or e-mail. Contact: Vladislava Bruderová, tel. +420 224 902 231, e-mail: v.bruderova@narodni-divadlo.cz
  • Weekends: Prague City Tourism – tel. +420 221 714 161, e-mail: vlastiveda@prague.eu

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Object history

The theatre was built by a liberal aristocrat, count František Antonín Nostic-Rieneck on his own Prague land plot with an approval of Emperor Joseph II. Thanks to the emperor’s support, the objections of the owners of the neighbouring houses, of the Charles University, and of the town council, the owner of the Theatre v Kotcích who was afraid of competition, were all void. The foundation stone was laid on the 7th June 1781. When digging the foundations, a small container was found with several silver coins, which was considered as a good sign. The building was realized in a Classicist style according to a project of architect Antonín Haffenecker, and together with the theatre in Leoven in Styria it is the only building in Europe preserved in nearly original state. The main front with a pair of pillars and high, half-round vaulted windows were probably realized in French Classicism. Count Nostic national theatre was festively opened on the 21st April 1783 with Lessing’s play Emilia Galotti. The count built the theatre for the Country and for the Muses, as the Latin inscription on the building declares: Patriae et Musis. The theatre’s founder was a great patriot, a German Prague citizen, who wished to pursue German drama and opera in the theatre, even if he sometimes allowed for Bohemian production. And so the first Bohemian performance was held here on the 20th January 1785, the Run-away from the love of son (author: Gottlieb Stefanie jr.) in the Czech translation of Karel Bulla. The first original Bohemian play staged was the historical drama with songs named Břetislav and Jitka by Václav Thám on the 10th January 1786. The theatre’s history is inseparably bound with the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who conducted his Marriage of Figaro in 1787. On the 29th October 1787, world premiere of the opera Don Giovanni was held here, which Mozart dedicated to the people of Prague. In the following years, other operas of Mozart were staged here.

When count Nostic died, the heir count Bedřich Nostic offered the theatre to the Bohemian Estates, who purchased it in 1798, and since then the theatre has been called the Royal Estates Theatre (Královské stavovské divadlo). The dramas were staged in German, the operas in German or Italian; Czech performances were only held on holidays and Sundays. On the 2nd February 1826, the first Czech opera Dráteník (Tinker) by František Škroup had its premiere here. In December 1828, famous violin virtuoso Paganini had six concerts in the theatre. On the 21st December 1834, the drama Fidlovačka by J. K. Tyl had its premiere here, in which Škroup’s song Kde domov můj (Where is my homeland) was sung for the first time, to become the national anthem later on. Czech plays were staged in the Estates Theatre until 1862, when the Provisional Theatre was built and the Czech theatre became independent. Then the Czech plays returned only in 1920, when the Czech actors occupied the Estates Theatre in violence during the first years of the Czech state’s existence. President Masaryk protested against such injustice by never entering the theatre anymore. On the 5th December 1920, the Estates Theatre was officially incorporated into the National Theatre. During occupation, the last Czech play to be staged here in July 1939 was Jirásek’s Lucerna (Lantern), and after the occupation, the same play Lucerna was the first to be staged in Czech again. In 1948, the theatre was renamed to Tyl’s Theatre and it became a permanent stage of the National Theatre’s dramatic segment. Mozart’s opera productions are home here by right. Since 1991, the historical name Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo) has been used again.

The building’s interior decorations were originally designed by Jan Jakub Quirin Jahn; the curtain was made by Josef Bergler in 1804. The first modifications of the building were realized in 1859 by a builder K. Brust, others followed in 1881 - 82 by architect Achill Wolf. The cast-iron galleries were removed in the years 1890 - 92 for safety reasons. Modern reconstruction took place in the years 1973 - 1974, and the last general reconstruction in 1983 - 1991 according to a project of architect Ivan Skála and Svatopluk Zeman. The original foundations of the building were reinforced, the enclosure walls were strengthened, the paintings on the auditorium and forestage ceilings were restored; the balcony parapets revealed surprising decorations made of paper-mache, used probably due to its light weight, as the auditorium’s enclosure walls are mostly made of wood and also the dome supporting the ceiling is made of wood. It was recommended not to replace any materials in order to preserve the excellent acoustics. A copy of the original chandelier from 1874 was made and installed, which was partially powered by gas. There are 148 light bulbs on the new chandelier, which weighs approx. 800 kg. After the reconstruction, there are 659 seating places and 20 - 40 standing places available in the Estates Theatre. The Kolowrat Palace was reconstructed at the same time, in which painted coffered ceilings were discovered, and in which another, smaller theatre was established. Festive opening was held on the 12th October 1991 with a play by Josef Topol named Sbohem, Sokrate (Farewell, Socrates).

There is a statue named Pieta by the Estates Theatre - the author is the sculptor Anna Chromy.

The theatre is a National Cultural Monument.

LATIN INSCRIPTIONS ON THE BUILDING

- the front of the Estates Theatre
PATRIAE ET MVSIS MDCCLXXXXI
To the Country and the Musis 1781

- towards Havířská Street
FRANCISCVS ANTONIVS S.R.I. COMES DE NOSTITZ - RIENECK FUNDAVIT A.D. MDCCLXXXI
František Antonín, holy Roman empire’s count Nostic - Rieneck established in 1781

- towards Karolinum
DELEGATI INCLYTI REGNI BOHEMIAE RAEDIFICARI FECERVNT A.D. MDCCCLIX
Representatives of the renowned Bohemian kingdom organized new construction in 1859.

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