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Musical Theatre Hodolany

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Important events

(detail)1942 | construction

The building came into existence around 1930. During German occupation, when Czech performances were reduced more and more in the Municipal Theatre and intentionally expelled, the director of that time Stanislav Langer decided to obtain another theatre for Czech theatre. The design of reconstruction of a building in the Olomouc suburbs Hodolany was worked out by architect Lubomír Šlapeta and was carried out by builder Tomáš Šipka in 1942.

(detail)1948 | construction

The building was damaged during fights at the dawn of the war in 1945, but it was renovated immediately afterwards and again renovated in 1948.

(detail)1955 | reconstruction

Reconstructed after fire in 1955.

(detail)2005 | closure

Mainly operetta and some drama pieces were presented here until 1993, when operetta and opera ensembles were merged. The building ceased to be used and dilapidation begun. The ensemble Burning Giraffes played here for several years and the Tramtarie theatre. All activity has ceased since 2005.



In 1941, the main venue in Olomouc – Town Theatre was closed due to reconstruction. After the reopening, the majority of the time was assigned to a German company, plays in Czech appeared on the stage only three days in a week (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday), later this number was even reduced to one day only. Concurrently, people interested in Czech performances were visiting the National House, but the capacity of its hall was insufficient to the spectators’ demand. The unfavourable situation should have been solved by establishment of a new, detached theatre building; there were considerations for a conversion of the Trade Union House, National House, Sokol Hall, or cinema „Světozor“. The managing board of the association encountered hindrances and shortcoming on all these locations. It seemed in the end that the most convenient place would be the People’s House in Hodolany that served as a gym for the so called Orel Movement (the Orel Hall).

The indispensable building modifications and alterations of the existing building were designed by architect Lubomír Šlapeta. The work with theatre space was not completely unknown to  Šlapeta as he,  with his brother Čestmír, created a student design of a stage extension to the German House in Brno already at the end of the 1920s. In 1935, he participated in the competition for the German Theatre in Brno and then in an idea competition for the Czech National Theatre a year later in the same city. He entered another architectural contest together with his brother Čestmír and Arnošt Hošek in 1938 in Moravská Ostrava – their design of a theatre and public education house was awarded by the first prize.

He created a basic design for a theatre stage in the Trade Union House in Olomouc that has not been carried out.

The actual works in Hodolany were taking place in 1941 – 1942. The conversion, carried out under supervision of builder Tomáš Šipka, affected all parts of the interior. The architect transformed the original “ historicising interior into a completely functional, elegant stage1; its appearance could be reconstructed on the basis of preserved photographs and designs.

The theatre hall was laid on an oblong plan. The spectators section was entered through four entrances; three of them were broken into the longer longitudinal wall, the remaining one then into the shorter rear wall, directly from the foyer. The spectators were led by the aisles on the sides to individual rows of seats. An orchestra pit was inserted between the stage and auditorium being accessible from the basement. “The stage is equipped in the way that it correspond to all requirements of stage technology even by its relatively modest dimensions that are given by its original state. It is provided by a white walled cyclorama and black, movable cloth drop. It disposes all the other indispensable equipment as is a lighting booth, lighting bridges, convenient fly loft,  various technical store rooms at the hand.“2 A side stage was adjacent to the acting area on the right side ( from the view from the auditorium). We are informed of the capacity of the auditorium by the issue of Moravský  večerník from 1942 – “ raked rows of seats have 420 seat in the lower section, gallery 180 seats, enclosed raked area for standing rooms can accommodate 150 visitors so the entire auditorium could contain at least 750 persons.“ 3  The standing rooms were situated by Šlapeta into the parterre, behind the last row of seats. There were no columns nor pilasters. The gallery was entered through a central entrance, onto which a central communication aisle was adjoined to. The front edge had a simple iron banister.

The original shortcomings of the hall – especially an issue with acoustic and visibility – were managed to be overcome in the project “ by the way that [Šlapeta] made round the coffered ceiling and side walls of the forestage, he removed all  reverberatory obstacles from the acoustic field especially by the ceiling, he lowered the gallery profile of the rear wall ...  the same purpose has parabolic raise of the floor in the ground floor and especially steep rake of the gallery floor ... the acoustic dimension of the hall are adapted not only to opera, but to drama as well...  The visibility to the stage was acquired by intentional omission of the side boxes, convenient distribution of seats and floor rake.“ 4


The contemporaneous photographs document clear or even puristic space, only minimally articulated and very utilitarian. Image documentation of the hall does not offer any view of any decoration or embellishment. An art motive was applied, according to the report in the contemporaneous press, in the entrance sector   of the theatre. Painter Oldřich Šimáček here with the cooperation of sculpture Rudolf Doležal  created a scene from the Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana in the stucco lustro technique.

Apart of the auditorium, the visitor’s section contained a foyer, buffet, social facilities and naturally the indispensable cloak rooms. This list is completed by a smoking room, minor cloak room and social facility in the first floor. The theatre background was composed of a store room, property-room, cabinetry – all this in the ground floor. In the mezzanine, there were hair dressing rooms and wardrobe storeroom and finally there were dressing rooms (all together five rooms for 60 persons) and office in the first floor.

The contemporary persons assessed the renovated building very favourably – “ the designer had internal relation with theatre, was able to get familiar with the theatre life and we can see the outcome precisely in such usefulness, which we can admire at every step and which will conquer the heart of everybody in favour of the new theatre ... vestibule, foyer will please our eyes by simple and clear lines ... architectŠlapeta, as we can feel at any step, understood the needs and work of theatre artist and that is what we praise as a huge merit of the project.“ 5

The ceremonial opening took place at  Saturday 12th September of 1942, the premiere play was the Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana.

The theatre carried the name New (Czech) Theatre in Olomouc – Hodolany. The name was changed after the Second World War to Musical Theatre, in 1957 then to New Musical Theatre.

The stage had been operating without intermission until 1944, when it had to be closed due to the order by German executive. The building was reconstructed between 1945 – 1947; this building activity contained a side stage coming into existence, ballet hall (this space later served as a orchestra rehearsal room), dressing rooms were added for actors and musicians  and a room for the principal of the company. Resumption of the operation fell upon 7th May of 1948. The theatre in Hodolany was a “secondary venue” and “ it was announced that this theatre will be the type of the people’s theatre.“ 6

The interior in Šlapeta’s arrangement served until 23rd November of 1953; the fire swept the building from defective wiring. Extent of damages was considerable, it was even considered to pull down of the entire building and erect an entirely new structure. General overhaul and renovation was proceeded eventually. The renovation of the theatre was carried out to the design by Miloš Libra; the author created a project that completely fit into the contemporary Socialist Realism. The ceremonial reopening of the stage took place on 29th March of 1957.

Two mobile barracks were added to the existing building in the 1980s serving as a room for the chief carpenter and as a workplace of sound technicians.

The operation of the theatre was terminated in 1992, allegedly because of technical issues. The history of the seat of culture has not been closed up. Four years later, it was succeeded in pushing through a proposition “that the building of the theatre in Hodolany become a permanent stage - ... a theatre without its own art company and very low number of technicians.“ 7

Thanks to the financial subsidy of statutory municipality Olomouc, heat installation was repaired and wiring was partially exchanged. Productions were introduced again in 2000, the spectators were offered performances of the experimental venue of the Moravian Theatre in Olomouc that was named Hořící žirafa (Giraffe on Fire). The existing rooms of this venue were partially adapted for the new operation – for instance the former stage became a rehearsal room and on the contrary, the former cloakrooms were converted into the stage and auditorium. New air-conditioning devices and technical equipment (stage lighting, audio)) were installed at this time as well. The Giraffe on Fire Studio performed in Hodolany until 2003. Its work was resumed on by another experimental company - Tramtárie, followed by the company Tramtárie II – returns the impact in 2005 – 2006.

The building does not serve it primary – cultural purpose in the present days. The administrator of the structure, Moravian Theatre Olomouc uses it as a lodging house, props storage facility, furniture storage and transitorily as a rehearsal room of art companies and orchestras. There is a costumes rental as well.


Present state


The theatre in Hodolany is a detached building, demarcated by busy road and tramway lines from three sides. The side elevation, parallel to the Tovární Street is partially covered by a garden, the remaining ground is shaded by an adjacent, rectangular house. The rear section is oriented to the yard. A not large grassy area, formed to into a curve, is located in front of the front elevation that is opened into Hodolanská Street. The architect had the massive building of blocks be erected on a rectangular plan. The articulation of the building corresponds and reflects the inner layout of the venue – we can clearly distinguish the foyer, auditorium and stage part. These dominating volumes are complemented by minor extensions serving as operational background.

Tectonic and decorative elements were used  only in a small scale. From the applied ones, we can mention the imitation of the central exceeded bay of the main elevation that skilfully conceals recession of the left section of this side, the centrally located two bay window, highlighted by a massive window moulding with a central emphasis, cornices above the side entrances, which are supported by prismatic consoles, the cavetto crown mouldings or the fully walled high parapets, visually separated from the crown moulding by petty cubic plinths.

The outer walls of the building having coarse-grained cast, coloured in two basic shades (sandy and dusty pink), are articulated by vertical bands that are engraved into the facade. These are composed of rectangular fields, arranged into two, respectively three perpendicular strips. These geometrical compositions serve to emphasise the central two bay window at the main elevation.

The access to the interior of the building was not granted by the administrator of the building




1. Petr Pelčák – Vladimír Šlapeta – Pavel Zatloukal, Lubomír Šlapeta 1908 – 1983,  Čestmír Šlapeta 1908 –    1999. Architektonické dílo (kat. výst.), Spolek Obecní dům Brno – Muzeum umění Olomouc, 2003, s. 182.

2. Petr Pelčák – Vladimír Šlapeta – Pavel Zatloukal, Lubomír Šlapeta 1908 – 1983, Čestmír Šlapeta 1908 -    1999. Architektonické dílo (kat. výst.), Spolek Obecní dům Brno – Muzeum umění Olomouc, 2003, s. 183.

3. Bk., Nový stánek umění Českého divadla v Olomouci, Moravský večerník XXI, č. 102, 12. září 1942, s. 5.

4. Petr Pelčák – Vladimír Šlapeta – Pavel Zatloukal, Lubomír Šlapeta 1908 – 1983, Čestmír Šlapeta 1908 –    1999. Architektonické dílo (kat. výst.), Spolek Obecní dům Brno – Muzeum umění Olomouc, 2003, s. 183.

5. Bk., Nový stánek umění Českého divadla v Olomouci, Moravský večerník XXI, č. 102, 12. září 1942, s. 5.

6. Václav Kožušník, Historie budov olomouckého divadla, Olomouc 2010, s. 63.

7. Václav Kožušník, Historie budov olomouckého divadla, Olomouc 2010., s.65.




- Bk., Nový stánek umění Českého divadla v Olomouci, Moravský večerník XXI, č. 102, 12. září 1942, s. 5.

- Alfred Javorin, Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích. I. díl, Praha 1949, s. 151 – 152.

- Václav Kožušník, Historie budov olomouckého divadla, Olomouc 2010.

- Petr Pelčák – Vladimír Šlapeta – Pavel Zatloukal, Lubomír Šlapeta 1908 – 1983, Čestmír Šlapeta 1908 –1999. Architektonické dílo (kat. výst.), Spolek Obecní dům Brno – Muzeum umění Olomouc, 2003.

- Ročenka Družstva českého divadla v Olomouci 1940 – 41. XXI. Výroční zpráva Družstva českého divadla v Olomouci za sezonu 1940 – 41, Olomouc.

- Ročenka Družstva českého divadla v Olomouci 1941 - 42. XXII. Výroční zpráva Družstva českého divadla v Olomouci 1941 – 42, Olomouc.

- Pavel Zatloukal, Olomoučtí architekti 20. století II., Zprávy Krajského vlastivědného muzea v Olomouci, č. 235, 1985, s. 15 – 33.

- Pavel Zatloukal, Olomoucká architektura 1950 – 1983, Olomouc 1983.


Tags: Functionalism


Author: Kateřina Kohoutkova - Gabrhelíková

Translator: Jan Purkert

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