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Municipal Theatre Mladá Boleslav

Ferdinand Fellner, Hermann Helmer

alias Town Regional Theatre Mladá Boleslav (1948- 1955), Central Bohemian Theatre Kladno (1945- 1948), Town Theatre (1909- 1945), District Theatre Mladá Boleslav (1964- 1967), Jaroslav Průcha Theatre Kladno- Mladá Boleslav (1967- 1989), Town Theatre Mladá Boleslav (1955- 1963), Central Bohemian Theatre Kladno- Mladá Boleslav (1989- 1994)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1870 | Municipal house Construction

Construction of the new town hall building, according to the design by architect Josef Niklas and local architect Jiří Fichtner – so called Municipal house, of which two-storeyed hall was also a component. Its form was adapted for theatre performance purposes in the final stage of the constructuction.The new hall began to serve for theatre purposes in 1870, when the first performance was introduced,the comedy Dust to eyes along with playlet He is not jealous.


(detail)1905 | project
The city council placed an order for a design of a theatre building with Czech architect Antonína Balšánek and  atelier Fellner & Helmer, the latter was chosen afterwards. The theatre committee decided subsequently to assign the project of main facades to Czech architects Jan Kříženecký and Emil Králík.
(detail)12.11.1909 | Opening

Laying of foundation stone took place on 12.11.1906. Construction works were conducted by the firm of Mladá Boleslav builder Antonín Hercík. Ceremonial opening took place on 21.11.1909 with Lantern by Alois Jirásek.


(detail)1937 | reconstruction
First adjustments took place in 1937. Apart from certain adjustments in exterior and interior – for instance removal of central aisle in auditorium parterre, Bečvářovský company realized rectangular extension by rear tract of the building, which started to serve as a rehearsal room with coulisse storeroom.
(detail)1985 | reconstruction

Theatre building was closed up due to emergency conditions, consecutively reconstructed in 1977- 1985. The repairs focused on facade reconstruction, stuccoer's ornament was renewed, auditorium capacity was adjusted to 395 seats, 231 of them situated in groundfloor. So called Minor stage came into existence in former  extension of rehearsal room with coulisse storeroom according the design by architects Josef Zumr and Václav Řezáč.


People

(detail)Hermann Helmer |main architect
The phenomenon of the architects Fellner and Helmer would be difficult to capture with only one building. Their work consisted of continual, although somewhat stereotypical, work in terms of style. They placed a great emphasis on achieving the technical-operational needs of theatre buildings. They created a large number of theatres (mainly national theatres) in Central Europe - Austria, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic, etc.More theatres

(detail)Antonín Balšánek |architect

Czech  architect of late  Revivalism and Art Nouveau  . From his works: City theater in Plzeň and Pardubice, with Osvald Polívka carried out the construction of Municipal House in Prague.

Balšánek presented his theoretical views about theatre architecture within extensive series of lectures “ About building” in the course of 1913. He stated here that if somebody was evaluating objectively constructed theatres in Czech region in the last years, he “must certainly admit that within given conditions it was reached the maximum of meeting the modern needs without exception in every regard.” He labels the German reformatory, only “allegedly modern” endeavours and attempts to introduce an amphitheatrical type of theatre in Bohemia to be “ completely incorrect”. He associated them with Wagnerian productions pervaded by a ceremonial mood and participation of a cosmopolitan audience, which are “the aspects, which have nothing in common nor with an actual theatre purpose nor with its noble role – to be a people’s house”. He placed against the German effort the healthy ideas of folk theatre and reminded the ideas circulating in Russia endeavouring   “that theatre would become the real centre for all social classes, longing for education, and in that sense that it would be connected with public libraries and tea houses” (see  Antonín Balšánek, O stavebnictví, Architektonický Obzor XII, 1913, s. 137).

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(detail)Emil Králík |architect

A disciple of Josef Schulz and Jan Koula and a trainee in the atelier of Antonín Balšánek and Osvald Polívka averted from his teacher soon. He searched for modern expression, which would meet rationalism, but would not give up an artistic character of architectural work. He found inspiration  partly in the Kotěra´s work, partly in the line of production outcoming from the Wagner Viennese school.

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(detail)Bohumil Hübschmann |architect

Czech architect. He asserted himself as a remarkable designer of modern buildings, especially in Prague.

In: Adéla Anna Vavrečková: Živé příběhy. Divadelní budovy v Olomouci a v Moravské Ostravě. Brno 2007. Diplomová práce. P. 41

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Josef Zumr |architect
Václav Řezáč |architect
(detail)Theodor Hilšer |painter

He was a painter of historical scenes and portraits. He cooperated on the panorama of the Battle of Lipany by Luděk Marold. His style was decorative and the most known of his works are Sardanapal (1895) or the Fall of Babylon.

In:


(detail)Jan Štursa |sculptor

One of the founders of the Czech modern sculpture. At first, he was influenced by Art Nouveau symbolisms, but later he inclined to sensual approach of depicting a female body. He reacted in his work to experiences from the front lines. The after war relief The NINERA player (1919) heralded the aesthetics of Civilism. He created mainly portraits in the last years of his life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Štursa

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History

First German theatre performances took place in Mladá Boleslav in the hall of U zlatého věnce (By gold garland) inn around 1840. In all probability, that was an incentive for  foundation of the first Czech Mladá Boleslav theatre association in 1843. A great deed for local dramatics was the construction of a new town hall building according to the design by architect Josef Niklas and local architect Jiří Fichtner – the so called Municipal house, of which component was also a two-storey  hall. Its form was converted for theatre production requirements in the final stage of the construction at the suggestion of the newly named Czech theatre association Kolár. It induced particularly to enlargement of the stage and reconstruction of the orchestra pit and auditorium, which, along with balconies, had a total capacity of 194 seats. The new hall began to serve for theatre purposes in 1870, when the first play was introduced and that was the comedy Dust to eyes along with the play He is not jealous. However, the hall was ceasing to meet   safety requirements   in the early 20th century, especially of anti fire protection and lack of escape paths. The situation sharpened in 1904 and as a result, the theatre association Kolár organised the last performance on the stage. Municipal representatives attempted to solve the arisen situation with cooperation of the theatre association. There were two possibilities. The first - to reconstruct the existing hall and to adjust it to the period security demands, for instance to realize an exterior iron staircase. The second variant was to build a completely new building, the enlightened local authority decided for this option. They also nominated a committee for construction of a new theatre soon in 1904 that determined the Šámal garden as a definitive location for a new theatre building.

The city council placed an order for a theatre building design with Czech architect Antonín Balšánek and the atelier Fellner & Helmer, the latter was selected afterwards. This step was widely criticised not only by expert public, for instance by Jednota stavitelů (Union of the Builders) or Spolek  architektů a inženýrů v království českém (the Association of Architects and Engineers in the Kingdom of Bohemia), but by Czech patriotic society as well. The Mladá Boleslay press did not hold back as well and labelled the production of the atelier Fellner and Helmer to be conservative and its designs to be  behind the times. However, the city council took a firm stand. The victorious design was considered by them to be the most elaborated in the safety and layout point of view. Their other argument was the proposed budget, which was counted by Fellner & Helmer to be about 60 000 less than Balšánek’s calculation. 

This higly visible advantage was soon turned against the city council’s calculation and that was when the Theatre Committee additionally decided to assign the main facade design to Czech architects Jan Kříženecký and Emil Králík, in particular because of „ low monumentality“ of the designed facades by Viennese architects. They submitted two preserved designs in Neo- Renaissance and Classicist style. The second one already carried first hints of architectural style tendencies of the beginnings of the 20th century, but in a clumsy way. The facade was not only more majestic in the designs by Czech architects, but it completely continued in contemporary architectural tendencies by its appearance topically. New designs of the construction facades increased considerably the costs and delayed it, but that was counterbalanced indeed by a representative appearance of the new theatre. Layout allocation of the building was carried out according to the original design of Viennese atelier.

Laying of foundation stone took place on 12.11.1906. Construction works were conducted by the firm of Mladá Boleslav builder Antonín Hercík, stuccowork was made by Jindřich Čapek in the vestibule and theatre foyer according to the design by Bohumil Hübschmann. The author of a ceremonial painted curtain was Theodor Hilšer. Jan  Štursa is the author of a sculpture group on the theatre roof. The theatre began its operation on 21.11.1909 with the Lantern by Alois Jirásek. The capacity of the auditorium was 433 seats and 400 standing rooms by theatre opening, boxes remained preserved in the  original form. First adjustments and reconstructions took place not until 1937. Apart from certain adjustments in the exterior and interior – for instance removal of the central aisle in the auditorium parterre, Bečvářovský company realized a rectangular extension by the rear wing of the building that began to serve as a rehearsal room with a scenery storage room. The theatre building had waited for another maintenance and reconstruction until the 1970s when the building was closed up due to emergency conditions and consecutively reconstructed in 1977- 1985. Repairs were focused on the facade reconstruction, stucco ornament was renewed, and  the auditorium capacity was adjusted to 395 seats, 231 of them situated in the ground floor. The so called Minor stage came into existence in the former rehearsal room extension with a scenery storage room according to the design by architects Josef Zumr and Václav Řezáč.

The building carried the name City Theatre until 1948 when it was changed to the City Regional Theatre Mladá Boleslav, the building had had this name up to 1964, when it was renamed to the Regional Theatre Mladá Boleslav. In 1967, the Mladá Boleslav Theatre became a second stage of the theatre in Kladno, both the buildings were united under a joint name the  Jaroslav Průcha’s  Theatre Kladno- Mladá Boleslav. Both the venues were renamed in 1989 to the Central Bohemia Kladno – Mladá Boleslav up to 1994, when they were definitely divided into separated theatres. The Theatre carries the original name since then.

Present state

The theatre stands in a row of representative buildings on the grounds of former Šámalova zahrada (Šámal’s garden), it is facing the Palackého Street by its main north-west facade. The building has a simple rectangular layout widened only by entrance bays, staircase bays in the side facades and an annexe in the rear part of the building. It is covered by a saddle roof, the elevated part above the fly facilities is covered by a mansard roof. Representativeness and verticality of the entry seven bay facade is enhanced by two pylons rounded up by sandstone sculpture groups. Pylons frame the central bay topped by a triangular gable. The main entrance with three portals is protected by a canopy of a rectangular shape, carried by iron brackets that support protruding columns surmounted by a spire, which capitals are decorated with  gilded dots. The entry is illuminated by four lanterns, hinged under the canopy. The storey of the bay is broken by three vertical window openings framed by the columns with capitals in the shape of lotus blossom and hinged iron garland in the upper part. The columns in the central axis of the facade support a small rectangular balcony carrying a sculpture of Thalia in the gable segment. The inscription UMĚNÍ SÍLA ŽIVOTA (art is the power of life) is inserted in a stucco strip above the windows. Massive squared pylons are surmounted by a sandstone sculpture group by Jan Štursa, Probuzení národa (Awakening of the Nation) on the right and Vítězství národa (Victory of the Nation) on the left. Below pylon tops, the facade carries always two iron laurels and below them, a Czech two tailed lion on the right and a Mladá Boleslav one tailed lion on the left in decorative stucco framing in blazons. The side two bay facades are formed by recessed window bays in mezzanines with oblong decorative stucco framing, ornamented by iron laurel-wreaths under the principal moulding. The ground floor is moulded by banded rustication, string course interrupted by decorative ceramic masks. The entire main facade is crowned by a distinct cantilevered cornice and balustrade attic, which is decorated by a sculpture group of decorative masks in Art Nouveau style in the top of the corners.  

Metal lamp-posts, standing by the foot of a platform leading to the main building entrance, are the component of the main facade. Lateral ten bay facades are segmented by staircase bays and are formed similarly as the entry facade, banded rustication in the ground floor, a cordon cornice interrupted by ceramic masks, recessed window bays and distinctive principal moulding. Distinct moulding elements are comprised of high mason parapets of the staircases elevating to lateral entries. The rear facade appearance is determined by the latter rectangular annexe, which concept of facade endeavours to resume on  lateral facades by its arrangement and expression.

The entrance vestibule of the theatre has a rectangular ground plan, to which the  main staircase volume, rising up to the foyer area, and diagonal corridors, leading to the lobby with entrances to the auditorium, are adjacent. The foyer is similarly arranged, main entrances lead from it onto the balcony and short diagonal staircases, leading into the area of lobbies with cloakrooms. The vestibule area  and foyer are topped by flat ceilings with cavettos, decorated by stucco mirrors,  stucco decoration is executed in Art Nouveau style as a distinct from the auditorium, especially to a geometrizing  water-leaf cornice or ellipsoid cartouches, framed by a hinged vegetable plait. The auditorium has a pear-shaped layout only with one level of a spacious balcony and it is arched by a clipped ceiling in the shape of an opening shell. Proscenium boxes with a projecting parapet are framed by massive pilasters with Doric capitals that are supported by sitting puttos. Two boxes follow in the ground floor and two boxes in the first floor, both have a joint continuous parapet with the entire balcony area. Stucco decoration of the auditorium carries the Neo Baroque spirit, the ceiling is segmented by stucco ornamentation into evenly distributed stucco rectangles. Ribbon and vegetable ornament in combination with gilded swags is richly used on the parapets and the proscenium arch. The curtain praises singing and musical art of Mladá Boleslav with perching Thalia, above which a muse with a lyre is levitating with  figures representing singing and musical art, which are complemented by the motifs from the Mladá Boleslav county – the ruins of the Michalovice castle and the valley of the Jizera river. The one tailed Mladá Boleslav lion is incorporated into the lower part of the curtain in  decorative framing.

Sources and literature:

- Státní okresní archiv Mladá Boleslav, výkresová a stavební dokumentace k budově městského

divadla

- Muzeum Mladoboleslavka, sbírka starých fotografií, fotografie a pohlednice Městského divadla v Mladé Boleslavi  

- Mladoboleslavské listy, Mladá Boleslav, 1904-1905

- Jizeran, Mladá Boleslav, 1906

- Rudolf, Václav František: Městské divadlo, in: Bareš František a druzi: Mladá Boleslav ve

službách doby a pokroku, Mladá Boleslav 1912,s. 5-13

- Javorin, Alfred: Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích, Praha 1949, s.122-123.

- Hilmera, Jiří: Česká divadelní architektura, Praha 1999, s.43-44,65,67,168, obr. 60

- Beneš, Luděk a kol.: Městské divadlo Mladá Boleslav 1909-1994, Mladá Boleslav 1999, s. 7-26, 46-47,49,52-55, 82-83, 86-88.

- Šantavý Tomáš, Hladíková Dana: Městské divadlo v Mladé Boleslavi, stavebně technický průzkum,

Projektový ateliér pro architekturu a pozemní stavby, 2003, s.3-6la

 

Tags: Art Nouveau, Austria-Hungary, Belle Époque, detached building, Fellner and Helmer, Fin de siècle, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Rococo, prestige building

 

Author: Ludmila Hůrková

Translator: Jan Purkert

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