On Sunday, Prague’s State Opera historical building reopened to the public with a gala concert after a reconstruction that lasted almost three years and cost 1.3 billion crowns (€51 million).
Opera and theater lovers witnessed the reopening symbolically 132 years after it opened for the first time in 1888. At 8 p.m., a grand opening concert took place, launched by the Richard Wagner’s overture called The Master-Singers of Nuremberg.
Both politicians and artists, including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and German Government Commissioner for Culture Monika Grütters, were invited to the gala evening.
Ambassadors and diplomats of the United States, Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Norway, and Slovakia attended the reopening as well.
The Czech Republic was represented by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Radek Vondráček, Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek, Cardinal Dominik Duka, and other well-known actors and singers.
“In addition to everything being restored, bold colors appeared in the interior, and there are also new seats and flooring. We have a new curtain which replicates the original one,” said the National Theater director Jan Burian, as the State Opera is one of the National Theater’s four stages.
The exterior of the opera now features its original colors, and the Piazzetta is being finished in the space between the buildings.
The building underwent a significant renovation, especially in terms of technological modernization. The air conditioning has been replaced and new theatrical technologies such as a rotating stage and subtitle tablets in different languages were installed.
In the future, these tablets, which are built into each seat, will also allow visitors to buy tickets for upcoming shows and order refreshments.
All restoration work was carried out manually under the supervision of experts.
The main goal was to make all changes practically imperceptible for the audience. The only noticeable change is the addition of a new floor in the back part of the historic building.
Due to the noise from the nearby highway, metro, and rail, it was also necessary to make the building soundproof.
“We created a so-called house in the house. We have separated the acoustic rooms from the surrounding constructions so that vibrations from outside are not transmitted inside,” explained a representative of the Masák & Partner studio, which carried out the reconstruction.
The design studio said they tried to get as close as possible to the original design of the 19th-century opera house.