- District: Staré Město (Old town), No. 540/I.
- Address: Zelezna 11.
- Build: 1781-1783.
- 1,900 seats.
- 1885 Opera Prague 06-09-1885.
- 1885 Opera Prague 25-10-1885.
- 1885 Opera Prague 28-10-1885.
- 1885 Opera Prague 19-12-1885.
- 1885 Opera Prague 20-12-1885.
Also: Alt Market Theatre, Standetheater, Estate theatre, Royal German Theatre, Deutsches Landestheater.
The Prague German Theatre company was in a difficult situation. It was housed in a building with an august tradition--it was here that Mozart had conducted the premiere of his opera Don Giovanni in 1787 (at the time it was called the Nostitz Theatre--Graflich-Nostitzsches Theater) and Wagner's operas had been performed since 1854 (by this time it was called the Estates Theatre--Standetheater), but in 1885 it was in a poor technical state and inadequate to modern demands. The Prague German Theatre was also struggling against the competition of the Czech National Theatre, which had opened in November 1883 and was luring away the German public as well with its excellent opera company.
The Theatre of the Estates is one of the most beautiful historic theatre buildings in Europe. The aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck, fired by a desire to enhance the charm of his native city and the minds of his fellow citizens, had this edifice built. It took not quite two years to construct and the theatre was officially opened in 1783 with a first performance of the tragedy Emilia Galotti by Lessing. Originally the theatre was dubbed Count Nostitz’s Theatre.
This exceptional project for Prague of the time corresponded to the prevailing spirit at the end of 18th century when national theatres were being built at European courts, in towns and cultural centres in keeping with the visions of enlightenment promoted by facilitating general access to theatres, considered to be moral institutions demonstrating the cultural standard of a nation. The inscription above the portal reads Patriae et Musis - To the Native Land and the Muses. This motto serves as a proof of the founder’s original intention and has lost none of its validity to this day. When this theatre was linked to the National Theatre, the latter’s motto “The Nation Unto Itself” became a natural complement to the former.
There was a number of founding generations of Czech dramatists who were active on the stage of the Theatre of the Estates. The Theatre of the Estate is permanently linked with the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was here that apart from other works that the world premieres of two of his operas were staged: the famous Don Giovanni on October 29, 1787 – which Mozart himself conducted) and the opera La Clemenza di Tito (1791, to mark the coronation of Leopold II).
In the course of its history the Theatre of the Estates attracted some significant artists of European stature: Carl Maria von Weber was a conductor here, Angelica Catalani sang here, Nicolo Paganini gave concerts, there were conductors Rubinstein, Carl Goldmark and Gustav Mahler.
While in Prague, Mahler mounted several major productions, including the Prague premieres of the first two parts of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. He left as construction began on the city’s Neues deutsches Theater, now the Prague State Opera. Mahler later returned for a guest appearance after the opening of the new opera house, on August 18, 1888, a gala night marking the birthday of the Emperor Francis Joseph I and premiere of Weber’s unfinished opera, Die drei Pintos.
See: Angelo Neumann (1838-1910) (Intendant).