State Opera to reopen in 2019

Renovations will largely modernize the backstage areas

The renovation of the State Opera is in full swing, and actors should return to the stage in 2019/20 season. The building closed in July 2016, and renovations work began in March 2017. The budget for the project is Kč 858 million.

Much of the work is being done in the behind-the-scenes areas. The state of the stage technology has been making it difficult to put on productions in the 21st century.

The elevator shaft and pipes are being redesigned to run more efficiently than in the past. The facade should be dismantled and replaced to provide better acoustics and keep out the noise from the busy street outside.

“We are performing demolition, disposing of asbestos, lining new partitions and disassembling the theater technology at the State Opera. Also, we are making a survey with conservationists on the intention of the restoration works. We will soon install electrical wiring. We will also start working on a new aluminum facade including stone facing,” National Theater spokesman Tomáš Staněk said. The State Opera has been run by the National Theatre since 2012.

One of the first things to be done was dismantling the large chandelier that hangs in the auditorium. It is now undergoing restoration works.

An area in the second-level basement that was used to store heating oil is being converted into new usable studio space.

National Theater director Jan Burian and Culture Minister Daniel Herman attended an inspection this week and looked at the auditorium, backstage, and roof. “It is obvious that a great deal has been done here. I was surprised how much progress there is,” Minister Herman said, according to daily Pražský deník.

The work should end in line with the plan in to stage shows in 2019. “There is no reason to think that the repairs will fail. I'm cautiously saying that the 2019/20 season is starting here. We are already preparing the future repertoire and we are planning on an already renovated building,” Burian said.

Previously Burian said the theater would possibly open with a premiere of a work by Wagner.

While the renovations are under way, productions have been moved to Karlín Musical Theatre or the historic National Theatre.

The State Opera opened in 1888 as the New German Theatre (Neues deutsches Theater). From 1949 to 1989 it was known as the Smetana Theatre and after that acquired the name State Opera (Státní opera).

It was designed by Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller along with Viennese architect Karl Hasenauer and the Viennese firm of Fellner and Hellmer.

The first performance was Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on Jan. 5, 1888.

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