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Original home of Mozart's Don Giovanni
Prague's Estates Theatre was built towards the end of the 18th century, at the height of the Enlightenment movement. It was then believed that the arts should be made available to the masses, and a Czech aristocrat financed the construction of the new theatre in an effort to make performing arts accessible to a larger audience. The Neoclassical style building staged its first performance in 1783, but the theatre truly achieved worldwide renown in 1787 when Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" made its debut there and became an instant success. The song "Kde domov muj" (Where is my home?), which would later become the Czech national anthem, was also performed there for the first time in 1834.
The Estates Theatre became part of the National Theatre in 1948. Operas and ballets are performed at the theatre on a regular basis. If you've been doing some film research prior to your trip to Central Europe (I tend to do that!), you might recognize the theatre from some of the scenes from the movie "Amadeus", directed by Milos Forman and shot in Prague in 1984.
- Historical Travel
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The Estates Theater
This historic theater was inaugurated in 1783 with a performance of the play Emilia Galotti (in German) by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781).
But the truly historic thing happened here just five years later in 1787 when the world's greatest composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni. Thousands of books have been written about this event, including a recent one by the German author Hanns-Josef Ortheil (fifth photo), who makes it sound really turbulent. In Ortheil's version, the premiere threatened to be a flop because Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, insisted on portraying Don Giovanni (Don Juan) as a violent rapist rather than a suave seducer. Enter the good guy, Giacomo Casanova, Europe's best-known suave seducer of the eighteenth century, who re-wrote the libretto and helped Mozart's opera to be a great success, which it has remained to this day.
Most of this is just Ortheil's imagination, but there is some basis in fact. Casanova really was in Prague at the time, and some of the corrections in the original opera score are in his handwriting. But not all scholars agree that his changes improved the libretto, particularly. Lorenzo da Ponte also wrote the texts for two other Mozart operas, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte, both of which were (and still are) hugely successful without any help from Casanova.
When I was in Prague in 2011 there were unfortunately no operas playing at the Estates Theater, so I didn't get to see the inside. They were advertising a new production of Mozart's Abduction from the Serail (fourth photo), but the premiere was scheduled for května, which turns out to mean May, and I was there in Duben (April), so I had no chance.
Second photo: Side view of the Estates Theater.
Third photo: The Estates Theater from Havířská Street.
Fourth photo: Poster on the Estates Theater advertising a new production of the opera Únos ze Serailu (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This is Mozart's thirteenth opera, composed in 1782 when he was 26 years old. We had a great production of it in Frankfurt recently, staged by Christoph Loy.
Fifth photo: The novel Die Nacht des Don Juan (The Night of Don Juan) by Hanns-Josef Ortheil. This novel is in German and as far as I know has not been translated into any other languages.
- Theater Travel
The Estates Theater is a historic theater in old town. Mozart's "Don Giovanni" premiered here in 1787, and is the only theater remaining where Mozart performed. Currently, it stages ballet and opera performances with an emphasis on works by Mozart. Tickets can be purchsed weeks to months in advance. For a truly memorable experience, pay a little extra for seats in the "Kaiser Box," It is the center box in the first tier. Perfect views of the stage, and the entire theater.
- Theater Travel
- Historical Travel
Historic Estates Theatre
One reason we wanted to see Prague is because this is where Mozart composed the most famous opera, Don Giovanni, and he composed it especially for Prague. He personally conducted its first performance in 1787 in the Estates Theatre. This was not on our included tour but we had a guidebook with a map and were within walking distance so were able to walk to it in our free time. It's an impressive building painted a pale green with white and gold trim. We could not go inside.
Prague Estates Theater
Even if the opera is not your cup of tea the Estates Theater is a must see. We had tickets for Le Nozze di Figaro. It was a very good production, costumes, etc. Although, you'll spend most of the time marveling at the interior.
We purchased tickets the day of the event for 12 Euro a person. I'm sure it's increased by now, but still worth it!
Word of warning to those afraid of heights. Do NOT book tickets for the upper mezzanines. It's a straight drop down. Plus the seats and isles are not intended for our modern frames.
The Estates Theatre (Stavovske divadlo)
The Estates Theatre (Stavovske divadlo) in this picture.
The point of view is quite weird but there was not another good spot to take this pic.
Opened in 1783 as the Nostic Theatre. The premiere of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was given here on October 29, 1787. From 1799 the theatre belonged to the Czech Estates. Today drama, opera and ballet are performed here
a pic of the stage at Estates...
a pic of the stage at Estates Theatre. We saw a lovely guided tour and were even allowed backstage and under the stage. It was very exciting, as they were actually preparing for a run of Don Giovanni once again!
Utterly gorgeous music hall in which W.A. Mozart conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni among other things.
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