Where to See Opera and Ballet

Where to See Opera and Ballet

Liven up your stay in the Czech Republic with an unusual experience: visit an opera or ballet performance at a theatre!

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Opera and ballet are genres that have evolved in Europe for centuries, and they are still very popular today. The advantage for the audience is that neither opera nor ballet require knowledge of the language in which the performance is presented. Ballet is an emotive dance without words, and opera is usually performed in the original libretto language, occasionally with subtitles. In the Czech Republic they are mostly in Czech and English. So, no matter what language you speak, you can put your Sunday best on and go to a theatre! Yet which one?

Prague – the capital of theatres

There are dozens of theatres in Prague alone. However, you can only see a ballet or opera on select stages as these genres are very demanding in terms of the number of actors, dancers, singers, chorus members, musicians and other people, without whom the performance could not take place at all. Sometimes their number exceeds a hundred professionals. The National Theatre is one of the icons of the national identity. There are several stages (National Theatre, Estates Theatre, New Stage, State Opera) where you can see both traditional opera performances such as the Marriage of Figaro, Carmen, Fidelio, the Bartered Bride and Aida, as well as modern operas.

State Opera opening

The State Opera building near the main train station in Prague and St. Wenceslas Square is to reopen after reconstruction in January 2020. It is the home of opera and ballet. The building was first opened on 5 January 1888 and it is a beautiful example of 19th century neo-baroque style. The reconstruction that the building has recently undertaken has affected almost every corner of the State Opera. New stage technology has been installed, including a unique revolving stage, a modern rehearsal room was built on the second floor, and the ballet, orchestral and chorus halls, as well as facilities for the artists, have also been renovated. The audience can look forward to brand new chairs, restored frescoes and murals.

After three years of reconstruction and 132 years since its first opening, the State Opera has been reopened on Sunday, 5 January 2020, with a spectacular evening entitled Transformations of the State Opera in Time (1888-2018). The special concert had guide the audience through the famous history of four local opera companies. Distinguished soloists of the State Opera and Czech and foreign guests will be introduced under the baton of the State Opera musical director, Karl-Heinz Steffens. Music by Janáček, Smetana, Puccini, Mozart and Wagner has been performed.

Brno National Theatre

The opera and ballet scene in South Moravian Brno belongs to the Brno National Theatre. Most performances take place in the Janáček Theatre near the city centre, which is a recently reconstructed theatre, completed in 1965. The repertoire of the Janáček Theatre includes classic operas and ballets by leading world music composers (The Lady with Camellias, Black and White, Aida, Tosca, The Queen of Spades). The programme also includes music by Czech composers, especially Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů.

National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava

Operas and ballet can also be seen if the road takes you north of Moravia. The professional opera and ballet company of Ostrava has tread the boards of the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre for more than 100 years. The home stage is at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre in the city centre. Some more intimate performances occasionally take place in the recently reconstructed Jiří Myron Theatre, which can be found in front of the Ostrava cathedral. And what can you look forward to here? Critics have praised the currently successful ballet production of Rossini Cards, which is a ballet composition named after the choreography of the same name by Italian Mauro Bigonzetti featuring music by leading contemporary composers including Ryuichi Sakamota and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Other stages across the country

Operas and ballets are not only performed in the three largest cities in the Czech Republic. There are other stages in Plzen, České Budějovice, Ústí nad Labem, Olomouc and Opava. For example, the JK Tyl Theatre in Plzen performs its opera and ballet productions on two stages, both in the Grand Theatre, which is a traditional theatre built about one hundred years ago, and in the New Theatre. Only opened in 2014, it is the most modern large theatre in the country.