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Chosen articles 10.12.2013
The dramatic columns of the Estates Theatre make a formidable statement of the purpose and history of the building. Constructed with the ideals of the Enlightenment, that theater should be accessible to all, the Theatre was completed in the late eighteenth century as a rival to the Vienna Theatre. Since that time it has played a role in the life of opera worldwide and the life of the Czech Republic itself.
The Estates Theatre opened in 1783, but despite the best egalitarian intentions, it was three years before it would house a production in the Czech language. Even after this milestone, many works were still performed in German.
Soon after opening, the Estates Theatre entered into a close relationship with the prolific Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This led to the world premiere of his opera “Don Giovanni” being performed at the Estates Theatre. Mozart himself conducted the work, having composed significant parts of it in Prague.
On the occasion of the coronation of Leopold II, Mozart premiered another major work, “La Clemenza di Tito”. His special association with the Theatre is still recognized today with much of the work of the resident opera company being centered on Mozart. The 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus was directed by Czech director Milos Forman with scenes of Mozart in Prague filmed at the Estates Theatre.
Productions at the Theatre have often carried the pride of the country with them and allowed the Czech Republic to showcase the best of Czech performing arts. The musical comedy “Fidlovacka”, written by Josef Kajetan Tyl, of whom the Theatre would be named for more than thirty years before reverting to its original title, and Frantisek Skroup, carried a song, “Kde domov muj?” (“Where is my home?”), which would, in time, become the national anthem of the Czech Republic.
The Estates Theatre is only a half hour walk from Wenceslas Square, or about ten minutes by car. Located at Ovocný trh, Prague 1, it is also accessible on the public transport system through the Yellow B and Green A lines and from the Mustek station.
In the portal of the Estates Theatre there is a motto inscribed from its opening “Patriae et Muses”, which translates as “To the Native Land and the Muses”. At a later time, when a partnership between the Estates Theatre and the National Theatre was established the motto of the latter was also assumed by both, “The Nation Unto Itself”. Together these maxims present the love of the arts and the love of the nation that has had made the Estates Theatre an illustration of Czech identity.
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