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(detail)1802 | construction


Pietro Travaglia |architect, painter


The Hlohovec chateau was owned by the Erdődy family from 1720. After 1789 the chateau was reconstructed and modernized by its owner, the district administrator Jozef Erdődy (the son of the famous lover of theatre Ján Nepomuk Erdődy). The reconstruction works took place also in the extensive park which surrounded the chateau. In 1802, on the occasion of the visit of Hungarian King and Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, who was travelling throughout Slovakia, Jozef Erdődy built a stone theatre and a riding hall in the park. The author of the project and the manager of construction works was most probably Italian builder, sculptor and artist Pietro Travaglia who is mentioned to reside in Hlohovec in 1800-1820 when he led the reconstruction works of the chateau. The recent research puts the beginning of the project into February 1802 and the construction of the theatre from February to October of the same year. In February 1802 Pietro Travaglia presented the designs for the decoration of the theatre, and from this fact there can be supposed that he was also the author of the ceiling painting in the theatre hall and plastic decoration on the facades. Since he was working as a sculptor and visual artist, it is possible that he was also the executor of the decoration though some earlier researchers attribute the authorship of the relief putti decoration on the facades to F. J. Prokop who worked for the Erdődys at that time.

The theatre served the Erdődy family probably from  1918. There are memoires of Countess Helen Erdődy from 1929 where she writes: “On occasions of big hunts or feasts, like the golden wedding anniversary in 1903, or the Red Cross feasts we also played theatre or presented popular tableaux.”

In the Geographic Museum in Hlohovec a few photographs were preserved showing such tableaux during WWI  which were presented in order to obtain money for charity. After 1945 the chateau and the joining buildings became the property of the state. The then National District Council renovated the building and adapted it for theatrical purposes. The original theatre had a private character and therefore it did not have any needed equipment. It was necessary to add new buildings and modernize and enlarge the auditorium. The project of the reconstruction and the new annex buildings was designed by architect Rajmund Hirth. His aim was to build a new foyer, cloakrooms for visitors, a snack bar and toilets in front of the entire side façade. However, as this design would spoil the original look of the theatre, the project was, after the agreement with the Slovak Institute of Monument’s Care, cancelled. A roofed hallway was built connecting the building with the riding hall (1960-1962). In the riding hall a foyer was made as well as a cloakroom, toilets and a box office. There was also a flat built for the caretaker and stockrooms. This design destroyed the look only of the main façade. The reconstruction of the theatre included the laying of a new roof and reconstructions of facades and reliefs. The doors and windows were reconstructed after the original. Artistic ironworks were made by local artisans. The wall paintings inside were restored by a team of restorers led by painters A. Kuco and J. Beňušík. The original wooden balcony was replaced by the armoured-concrete one and similar adaptations were made on the stage. Electric lights were installed and the number of seats increased.

 After the reconstruction in the 1960s the theatre was used for concerts of professional actors and workers from Hlohovec. Today it is used for theatre performances, concerts and celebrations.


The Hlohovec Theatre belongs to the group of small private theatres which were built by aristocrats on their premises in the second half of the 18th and in the 19th century. All of them, however, ceased to exist in the course of the 19th and 20th century. Therefore, the Hlohovec Theatre presents the only preserved example of a theatre of its kind in Slovakia. These theatres were used for private entertainment. At the beginning, various touring groups played there, invited by the owners, later it were the owners themselves ho gave performances in them. As seen in the Hlohovec Theatre it may be assumed that because of their specific purpose the theatres had a chamber character and for this reason there were not any public spaces in them. In her memoirs Countess Helen Erdődy writes: “This marvelous theatre and the riding hall were built in the park behind the stables on the occasion of the Emperor’s visit. The theatre has a wide and deep stage, orchestra pit, many rows of seats on the ground floor and in the back there were big gentlemen’s balconies. An Italian touring company used to play here which spent every year some time in Vienna. At the Emperor’s visit they presented his favourite operas and court actors played in dramas and comedies which were most popular at that time.”

The theatre in Hlohovec is a one-storey rectangular building with a wagon-headed roof, situated in the back of the chateau’s park, accessible from the path through a staircase and a small grassy plateau in front of the side facade.  The original access from the chateau ceased to exist after the new buildings where built and theatre was reconstructed. All four facades were originally designed symmetrically as longer five-axis and shorter three-axis facades. Today the entrance facade from the chateau is significantly damaged. The central axis of every facade is created by the risalit with the entrance gate. On the longer side of the facades the risalit ends by a triangular shield and attic, the shorter sides’ risalit ends by a narrow attic and a coat-of-arms. Originally, there was a lining with inscription on both narrow attics, one of them can be seen even today : “Thaliae Melpomenaeque sororibus Musis amicus C.J.E. 1802” (To Thalia and Melpomene Built by Jozef Erdődy 1802). The facades, except for the narrow line under the crown dripstone, are divided by rustication. The under-roof line is plain, decorated above the windows and the entrances by relief lines with the putti theme, the risalits have more petit relief decorations such as coats-of-arms, heads of muses or a wreath with a crossed arrow and a quiver.

The auditorium is oval-like, with a balcony in the back, which was originally supported by six pillars reaching the second floor. After the replacement of the original wooden balcony by the armour-concrete one the four of the pillars were renewed only on the second floor. On the back wall of the balcony an original stone fire-place was preserved, today functionless. The auditorium is vaulted by an oval mirror ceiling on a fabion decorated by painted rims and coloured areas on side walls which are changing at the base of the vault into painted illusive decoration. It starts with a line of floral garlands, balustrade sill with vases, geometric composition of panels with floral decoration, and it ends in the central composition of the cloudy sky where two groups of putti float holding a big rose wreath. Above the stage portal there is a horizontal frieze with painted putti. The pit is flat, today there are chairs stored in it. The stage has trough-like vault. The hall is accessible from a narrow lateral hallway by two entrances on the back side of the auditorium, the staircase leading to the balcony ends in the same hallway.

In the building there are small rooms behind the stage and a spiral-staircase leading to dressing rooms on the first floor.

The building bears signs of Classicist-Empire style and according to Ladislav Čavojský its painted decoration reminds of the interior of the theatre in Schönbrunn in Vienna.

From the southern side of the theatre there is situated a one-storey rectangular building with a wagon-headed roof, originally the riding hall. The facades, as on the castle, are decorated by rustication, the central motif of the entrance facade is a plain three-axis risalit divided with rims between the windows and the entrance. In the front there are public spaces. The central space is the entrance foyer with the box office, dressing room and toilets, which borders the caretaker’s flat from the east. From the west, behind a glass door, there is a connecting corridor between the theatre and the former riding hall.



Literature, Sources:

[1] CESNAKOVÁ – MICHALCOVÁ, Milena: Z divadelnej minulosti na Slovensku, Divadelný ústav Bratislava, Bratislava 2004 s.163-167.

[2] CESNAKOVÁ – MICHALCOVÁ, Milena: Premeny divadla, Veda. Vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie vied, Bratislava 1981, s. 57.

[3] LACIKA Ivan: Historical theatre architecture in Slovakia/Historische Theaterarchitektur in der Slowakei, in: Slovak Theatre. Historical Theatre

Architecture in Slovakia/ Slowakisches Theater. Historische Theaterarchitektur in der Slowakei, National Theatre Centre Bratislava 1998, s. 25-60.

[4] Pamiatkový ústav Bratislava-Regionálne stredisko Trnava, Empírové divadlo v Hlohovci. Zámer a zásady na reštaurovanie nástropnej maľby.

Vypracoval Branislav Dudáš, júl 1996.

[5] Krajský ústav štátnej pamiatkovej starostlivosti a ochrany prírody Bratislava, Stredisko Trnava, Zámer obnovy pamiatky Hlohovec -

Empírové divadlo, vypracovala B. Bartoňová, september 1985.

[6] Krajský ústav štátnej pamiatkovej starostlivosti a ochrany prírody Bratislava - stredisko Trnava, Program obnovy pamiatky Hlohovec – empírové

divadlo, vypracovala B. Bartoňová, september 1986.

[7] Štátny projektový ústav pre výstavbu a miest a dedín, Hlohovec-empírové divadlo. Zdravotná technika, zodp. projektant Rajmund Hirth, 1958.

[8] Rozpočet výloh I. stupňa na prestavbu a prístavbu empírového divadla v Hlohovci, vyhotovil J. Maduda, december 1956.



Author: Viera Dlhánová

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