State Opera (Státní Opera)

State Opera (Státní Opera) (57)

Sometimes rivalry or jealousy leads to terrible consequences. But on other occasions competition turns into a creative stimulus that result in beautiful works that surpass those of the opponent. Seeing the result, this would be the case of the State Opera.

Built in 1888 by the Austrians Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helner, this place, called the German Theatre, was the response of the German bourgeoisie to the creation of the National Theatre, the result of Czech initiative. The German bourgeoisie already had the Theatre of the States, but with time it had become too small.

Built over the Theatre of the New Town, between Wilson Station and the National Museum, the State Opera is the largest theatre hall in Prague. It is also an exact copy, though at a smaller scale, of the Vienna Opera House.

Its first director was Angelo Neumann and had famed figures as orchestra directors such as Karel Muck, Gustav Mahler or Richard Strauss. Between 1911 and 1927, this post was held by Alexander con Zemlisky, who gave it a new direction due to promoting operas by Strauss and symphonies by Mahler. Some of the very best German and Czech voices sang to his orders.

The State Opera was partially destroyed during the Second World War. At the war’s end, it was reopened with the name of the Smetana Theatre as the second main stage after the National Theatre.

Despite the restoration undertaken between 1968 and 1973, the interior conserves the stucco as well as the original paintings and curtain. On the façade, the neo-classical frieze is decorated with sculptures of Dionysius and Thalia, muse of comedy.

It is currently once again an independent theatre and possesses the name we know today, the State Opera. While the National Theatre concerns itself with Czech repertoire, the State Opera presents international works. It has the peculiarity of being the only Prague theatre hall dedicated exclusively to Bel-Canto. If you are a fan of this music, then this is the place to be.

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