State Opera

Close to the central station and the monumental modern building of the former parliament, the State Opera seems a little lost behind the barrier of cars that jams the expressway.

Yet this prestigious building in the New Town is home to one of the capital's historic opera houses, where Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler performed.

Built by the two tireless Viennese architects Helmer and Fellner, a famous duo whose monumental works can be found in many Central European cities, the neo-Renaissance building was constructed in 1886-1887.

In response to the opening of the National Theatre devoted to the Czech repertoire, this new opera house was commissioned and financed by Prague's wealthy German community, with the aim of performing major works in the German language. It opened with Richard Wagner's The Master Singers in 1888, and played a major role in spreading the music of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler in Bohemia. Mahler, who conducted many concerts here, enjoyed a very close relationship with the theatre orchestra. It was also here that the people of Prague would later discover the works of Arnold Schoenberg, Hindemith and Shostakovich, whose opera Katerina Izmailova was performed here for the first time outside the Soviet Union in 1936.

Its vast neo-rococo auditorium remains one of the capital's leading opera houses. The repertoire includes mainly Italian opera (Rigoletto, Nabucco, Aida, La Traviata by Verdi, La Tosca, Madame Butterfly and Turandot by Puccini), as well as works by Dvořák (Rusalka), Bizet (Carmen) and Strauss. Ballets also feature prominently, with regular performances of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Prokofiev's Cinderella.

New Town

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