Extensive renovation of Prague State Opera set to begin
The management of Prague’s National Theatre this week symbolically launched the planned renovation of the State Opera. The project is set to cost 858 million crowns and will take more than two years, during which time the State Opera will put on productions at other venues. It is the first major renovation job on a large state-owned theatre since 1989.
Extensive renovation was talked about for years but can finally now go ahead – five years after the opera was merged with the National Theatre. National Theatre head Jan Burian describes what's ahead:
“The renovation will affect not only the State Opera, one of the most beautiful in Europe, but also a technical wing. Almost everything will be repaired, from the seating to cloakrooms to historic details.”
Part of the plan is new space for members to practice new productions; audiences too will benefit, for example, being able to use touchscreen displays offering surtitles in several languages after the venue reopens. Stage elements are to be automated and run from a central computer and the main hall is to be restored as closely as possible to its former glory.
“We are already preparing to return to the standard system of performances and premieres, which we had to significantly alter for the time being. We are preparing the new repertoire. For now, the State Opera is making use of the National Theatre and Karlín Musical Theatre. For the re-opening, we will have an all new premiere, most likely a famous title, very possibly Wagner.”
The merger of the Prague State Opera and National Theatre was a measure intended to cut costs. The Supreme Audit Office recently revealed, however, that the move had not saved money other than the first year, in 2012, when expenditures fell by eight million crowns, a drop of less than one percent.