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Silesian Theatre Opava

Eduard Labitzky

alias Town Theatre / Stadttheater, Silesian National Theatre in Opava (1945- 1949), Silesian Theatre in Opava (1950- 1958), Silesian Theatre of Zdeněk Nejedlý Opava (1958-)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1.10.1805 | Opening

Laying of foundation stone took place in 1th. May 1804 and ceremonial opening on 1th October 1805.


(detail)1855 | repairs

The city council made an order for the design of theatre reconstruction by Viennese architect Eduard Kusche in 1854, it was not realized for lack of financial funds. Only partial repairs were carried out in 1855.


(detail)1909 | fire

The theatre burnt down on 16. June 1909. Repairs of interior were made in Luis XVI. style, which were designed by Viennese painter Ferdinand Maser. This adaptation took place in 1909.


(detail)1957 | reconstruction

(detail)90. 's 20. century | reconstruction

(detail)1948 | alteration

People

History

The original appearance of the theatre that was erected in 1805 according to the design by unknown architect was utterly disguised by later reconstructions.  According to a preserved ground plan, the auditorium had a plan of a horse-shoe shape on a circular base, with four side boxes in the ground floor and perhaps a continuous row of them in the dress and upper (if there was) circle, we can also assume a gallery with a usual amphitheatre and many standing rooms. Old images of the exterior shows a building of an austere appearance in the Empire style. It is worth a special mention that the theatre in Opava is the first known example of a building independently  occupying  a dominant position in a distinct municipal area except for the Estate Theatre in contrast to the previous and many other later theatre buildings in Bohemia. The theatre was reconstructed  in 1883-84 according to the design by municipal engineer Labitzky in the contemporary Neo-Renaissance style. The central bay of the entrance facade was opened up at that time by three arched entrances, above them, the artistic function of the building was expressed with a motif of an antique temple that framed three windows of the foyer. All the windows of the first floor were provided with a more ostentatious form and were compounded by couples under segmental tympanums. Also the interior underwent a significant remodelling. The auditorium was enlarged, hereby the main emphasis was placed on rich equipment with boxes along the entire circumference of the ground floor and both the circles as well (total amount of 53). A special ceremonial character was endowed to the dress circle with a royal box in the middle by caryatids between individual boxes. Separated staircases to individual circles were built on the sides of the vestibule in accordance with a new security regulation.  

The theatre was affected by fire in 1909. It was not something downright disastrous: for instance although the entire ceiling in the auditorium fell in, the architecture of boxes including the relief decor had remained intact. Despite that it was an incentive to substantially modify the auditorium area according to design by  Ferdinand  Moser in the Rococo style and in the spirit of such tendencies that are perceivable in theatres, built by Antonín Balšánek especially  the Vinohrady Theatre. The strict proscenium system was disrupted by reduction of boxes only to the sides of the hall, the thus released area in the ground floor was filled with seats in five rows. Similarly, the upper circle was arranged in such a style, where its levels were adjoined by a gallery in the central section, while a gallery was completely removed in the side arms that were not favourable for spectators.

In the after-war period, all the theatres in Bohemia underwent a necessary renovation and modernization.  It concerned repairs of war time damage  in some theatres in Moravia and Silesia. This activity had not considerably affected the structural arrangement of the buildings in case of Ostrava, Znojmo and Brno. To the contrary in Opava, the Neo-Renaissance style was considered to be an unwanted residue of the previous German domination in the city, therefore it was decided to radically change the exterior according to the designs by N. Pelant and Josef Krischke. The new, almost ascetic appearance was not a good outcome at all.

 

In: Hilmera, Jiří: Česká divadelní architektura; Praha 1999, s.  20, 49-50, 283.

 

Literature:

Javorin, Alfred: Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích; Praha 1949, s.153-156.

 

Tags: Austrian Empire, detached building, Neo-Renaissance, prestige building

 

Author: Jiří Hilmera

Translator: Jan Purkert

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