The Estates Theatre - Mozart and History

A Brief History of the Estates Theatre

The Estates Theatre is the oldest still standing theatre in Prague, Czech Republic. It was built in 1783 by Anton Haffenecker in a classist style of architecture. The construction was sponsored by the aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck, that is why this theatre first became to be known as the Rieneck Theatre. It acquired the name the Royal Theatre of the Estates after it was purchased by Bohemian Estates in 1798.

The Estates Theatre, together with the State Opera, has been a part of the Prague National Theatre since 1920 and has a regular program for operas and theatre plays.

 

Mozart and the Estates Theatre 

The Estates Theatre is famous worldwide as the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart premiered his Don Giovanni in October 1787.

Mozart had been to Prague just a few months before the premiere and was greeted with great enthusiasm by Praguers. He had just conducted another of his famous operas, Marriage of Figaro, in Vienna, where it wasn't received well, and decided to try his luck in Prague. Here it was an instant success, and Mozart was given an offer to write an opera for the Estates Theatre.

He had half a year to finish his work, but due to certain unforeseeable circumstances, Mozart started to write the opera only on the way to Prague. To the great dismay of the general public, the premiere was postponed several times. In the end, Mozart had to set the date for October 29th, and the last parts of Don Giovanni were written just a few hours before the opera started. Despite the long delay, Mozart received a standing ovation that, some historians say, lasted close to half an hour. Prague was won!

The Estates Theatre is the only theater in the world, where you can see Mozart's opera performed on the original stage.

 

Fun Facts about the Prague Estates Theatre

  • When the Nostitz family was selling their theatre to the Estates, they included one interesting condition in their contract. According to this condition, one balcony in the theatre's stage should always belong to their family.
  • The oldest member of the Nostic Rieneck family, Mathilda Nostitz, still owns the balcony in the Estates Theatre and takes care of the building.
  • An Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman filmed his famous Amadeus in the Estates Theatre.
  • The nearby Kolowrat Palace is connected to the Estates Theatre by an underground passage. 
  • To commemorate Mozart's Don Giovanni, a statue of Commendatore was installed next to the theatre's entrance in 2000. Its artist, Anna Chromy, created similar statues for Salzburg's cathedral, Archeological Museum in Athens, and Prince's Palace in Monaco.

 

Tickets to Prague Estates Theatre

 

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Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.