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City Theatre Chomutov

ing. Landisch

alias Bedřich Smetana Culture House, the Company Club of National Enterprise Tube Mill Plant and Gustav Kliment’s Ironworks, Städtische Parksäle
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1905 | Opening
A detailed design of the future theatre building was ready in March 1904; city engineer Landisch worked it out in all likelihood. The construction commenced soon thereafter. Available sources and literature do not reveal the precise date of the theatre opening, however, it is possible to assume that it occurred on the beginning of the autumn theatre season in 1905.
(detail)20. century | state
The theatre building underwent probably only minimal building adaptations in the course of the first half of the 20th century. The theatre hall was used as a cinema on the beginning of 1945.
(detail)90. 's 20. century | repairs
The city  acceded to larger repair works in the 1990s. Year 1994 brought large maintenance works in the building interior and the right tower was repaired, facade was renovated in 1997 and replacement of the roof construction and roofing material occurred in 2000.
(detail)00. 's 21. century | reconstruction
The city carried out an overhaul of the theatre, especially interiors, in 2002-2005 according to the designs by Liberec architects Pavel  Janoušek and Boris Šonský. 

People

ing. Landisch |main architect
Pavel Janoušek |architect
Boris Šonský |architect
Václav Krob |sculptor

History

The Chomutov theatre stands by a southwest border of a city park and it faces the Božena Němcová Street by its front elevation.

Chomutov was the one of the first Bohemian cities, into which Jesuits directed their activity. They established their college here in 1589, where they were organizing theatre productions with their students from the very beginning. German troupes of travelling actors visited  Chomutov later on similarly as in  other cities of similar importance. A larger development of Chomutov theatre life was closely related to the  economic rise of the city, especially in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, when brown-coal mines were opened in its very vicinity and soon thereafter, in 1887, famous ironworks Mannesmannovy válcovny (Mannesmann’s tube mill plant ). The majority of theatre productions was taking place mainly in the hall of Adler Hotel, productions of Teplice theatre ensemble enjoyed especially the popularity.

The representatives of spreading and growing rich city started to realize the urgent need of having a larger social meeting room. The construction, which they commenced  planning, was not meant to function only as a theatre, but as a social centre, which would combine more functions. Multifunctional buildings with theatre halls, which served to other social purposes as well apart theatre productions, were emerging in the same period predominantly in the Czech area of larger cities (for instance Smetanův dům (Smetana House) in Litomyšl or Národní dům (National House) in Liberec).

New Chomutov theatre was meant to stand in the city park in the location of Classicist building from 1833, which was a component of the city shooting range. A dancing hall occupied the first floor of the building, however, its rooms were ceasing to be suitable according the opinions of the city administration on the beginning of the 20th century. A detailed design of the future theatre building was ready in March 1904; city engineer Landisch worked it out in all likelihood. The construction commenced soon thereafter and a call for tender for concluding construction works  and restaurant rental occurred already in May of the following year. Available sources and literature do not reveal the precise date of the theatre, or better said social centre, opening, however, it is possible to assume that it occurred on the beginning of the autumn theatre season in 1905.  

The theatre building underwent probably only minimal building adaptations in the course of the first half of the 20th century, for instance an orchestra pit enlargement or gradual modernization of the stage technique. Veranda was probably rebuilt in 1940 and was utilized henceforward as a scenery storeroom and theatre workshop. Regional NSDAP administration let the minor hall, originally named Schlaraffia Saal, be adapted in the same year for its training centre. The theatre hall was used as a cinema on the beginning of 1945.

Only indispensable repairs were carried out in the interiors and exteriors after the Second World War. Sculptures of four Muses disappeared from the attic of the theatre in the 1980s. The Chomutov building office keeps designs of theatre reconstruction, in the end unrealized, from 1981, according to which especially the theatre background should have been enlarged, which would have had insensitive impact on  all the theatre facades. The city, however, acceded to larger repair works not until the 1990s. Year 1994 brought large maintenance works in the building interior and the right tower was repaired, facade was renovated in 1997 and replacement of the roof construction and roofing material occurred in 2000. City carried out an overhaul of the theatre, especially interiors, in 2002-2005 according to the designs by Liberec architects Pavel  Janoušek and Boris Šonský. 

Two sandstone sculptures stand by theatre since 2006: Veiled one by Miroslav Doležel in front of the main entry and Tenth Angel by Václav Krob in front of the summer restaurant.

An elongated ground floor wing on the northwest side, labelled as veranda, later on used as a scenery storeroom and today as a garden restaurant, was probably not a component of the original building design. Likewise neighbouring music  garden house with the shape of a shell does not correspond by its style of appearance to the next standing theatre.  Garden house stood on its location before the theatre construction according the building documentation having been prepared for a theatre reconstruction in 1992. Its location, which is not in accordance with symmetrical layout of the theatre, corresponds to that.

Local press labelled the future theatre construction as Neue Schiesshaus before the completion of the construction. It carried the name Städtische Parksälen, translated into Czech as Městská parková dvorana (City Park Hall), on its opening.  The name Kulturní dům Bedřicha Smetany (Bedřich Smetana Culture House) was given to the theatre after the Second World War and that was changed into Závodní klub národního podniku Válcovny trub a železárny Gustava Klimenta (the Company Club of National Enterprise Tube Mill Plant and Gustav  Kliment’s  Ironworks) in 1953. One labels the building Městské divadlo (City Theatre) since 1992.

Present state

Representative building, constructed in the Neo Renaissance style with elements being the adumbration of coming Art Nouveau, has been preserved to the present day without any larger extensions and adaptations. The theatre stands north-westward of the city centre in the area of the city park.

The main elevation of the building faces south-west. The symmetrical front facade is dominated by two projecting towers on the sides with escape staircases from the auditorium, topped  by glassed lanterns with flat roofs. The surface of the facade between them has six window bays, in the ground floor sheltered by a loggia under the balcony in the first floor. The ground floor level windows on the front facade wall illuminate the space of the original restaurant from south, in the first and second floor then the auditorium of the theatre hall, oriented collinearly with the entry facade. The windows are topped by flat arches in the ground and first floor, semicircular arches in the second floor. The loggia on the ground floor has flat lintels, an arcade arch in the middle, covered by an elliptical metal canopy with glass fillings, serves as a main entry into the building. A rusticated ground floor with logia is divided from the following storey by a distinct cornice with a frieze with triglyphs and drops. Windows of the first and second floor alternate with fluted columns of a giant order with Corinthian capitals with vegetable motifs.  The front facade is topped  by a balustrade parapet, originally set with sculptures of four Muses.

The theatre is entered through an oblong vestibule with a staircase running into the central square  hall, from which almost all the rooms of the building ground floor are accessible: former restaurant and costume storeroom on the left side and  former music room on the right. Vestibule and central hall are flanked with an almost square space with the main two flight staircase into the first floor and with an entry to the minor hall.

Main staircase leads to the foyer in the first floor, from where it is possible to enter into theatre hall from the side of the auditorium through three entrances topped  by a semi arch.  It is possible to enter from the foyer into the antechamber with another two entrances directly to the auditorium or into the room of former cloakrooms as well. Auditorium, which occupies two storeys by its height, has a flat parquet floor without fixed seats and flat ceiling with a high cavetto. It is encircled from three sides by a low parapet, being supported by ornamented corbels.

The interior of the theatre is complemented by an excellent stucco decoration, which underlines the importance of the building as a “temple of Muses” (that was accentuated by sculptures on the theatre attics, at present lost). We can find reliefs of the Muses depiction almost in all the representative rooms of the theatre. Already the portal into the neighbouring staircase hall is encircled by sculptures of Muses Thalia and Kleio in the central hall. We can admire the most rich ornamentation in the main hall, where depiction of Muse of lyric and  love poetry Erato in the company of three putti crowns the top of the proscenium arch. Symbolic depiction of Comedy and Drama embellishes the arch on the sides. The triumph of Muses should have been indubitably the decoration of the theatre ceiling as well. We can find putti in combination with vegetable motifs on the walled parapet of the auditorium balcony as well.  Keystones of all the entrances into the auditorium are formed by female mascarons with laurel garlands. We can find relief ornamentation in the theatre vestibule as well, where the year 1905 in medallion encircled by vegetal decorating makes reference to the year of the theatre opening.  The main staircase windows are filled by panes with  figuration of the city crest. The interiors and exteriors are complemented by elaborate cast-iron and forging elements with Art Nouveau details.

Sources and literature:

– Městský úřad Chomutov, archiv stavebního úřadu, spis domu čp. 552 – Městské divadlo

Neue Komotauer Zeitung, Chomutov, ročníky 1904–1905

Deutsches Volksblat, Chomutov, ročníky 1905–1906

– Josef Bret –Václav Stiska –Jaroslav Pachner, Chomutov ve starých pohlednicích, Chomutov 1992, obr. 53 a 54

– Zdena Binterová, Proměny Chomutova v čase: Dějiny Chomutova II, Chomutov 1998, s. 33

– Jaroslav Pachner, Chomutov, Praha – Litomyšl 2006, obr. 82

– Jaroslav Pachner, Park Theodora Körnera v Chomutově, Památky, příroda, život XXXIX, 2007, č. 39, s. 6

 

 

Tags: Austria-Hungary, Belle Époque, Culture house, detached building, Fin de siècle, Neo-Renaissance, prestige building

 

Author: Ludmila Hůrková

Translator: Jan Purkert

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