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Provisional Theatre

Ferdinand Fellner

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Important events

(detail)1.1.1871 | opening
The theatre was opened with "Don Juan" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. With a capacity of 1 500 seats.
(detail)5.4.1882 | closure



The fire at the municipal theatre on the Zelný trh in Brno destroyed the building on 23rd June of 1870 in such a manner that actually only circumferential walls had remained from it. It had been already dilapidating for a certain period of time and it was considered to be quite inconvenient. A municipal commission was set up to solve this issue already in 1863, but it hadn´t succeeded in producing any tangible outcome. At the beginning of 1870, another commission was also set up to carry out the preparatory works. Thus the fire forced the city to act and to find a quick solution. Apart of providing cultural experience, also a complication arose concerning the large theatre company of almost 120 persons who lost their livelihood. At the same time, the city didn’t have necessary financial funds for building a sufficiently representational building and so it was decided that only a provisional theatre would be erected at low costs for following several years. As an immediate provisional measure, a riding hall in the area of the former Jesuit college was adapted into a theatre hall, which was opened on 14th August of 1870 with the name Noththeater in der Reitschule.    


Because the city in the head with Christian d´Elvert even didn’t have sufficient financial reserves for construction of a provisional building and couldn’t afford such an expensive enterprise, it was decided to commission the construction of the theatre to a private investor. For selection of a suitable project, which were assembled meanwhile, the city created a theatre commission (Theater-Comité). A subject of the controversy became the location of the new building, for which were proposed locations as Ratwitovo Square in front of the New Gate (roughly in the area of the present day Malinovského Square) or Zelný trh. The process of deciding came to the first variant in the end. An architectural competition had been not carried out and the contract was acquired by Theodor von Offermann, a member of the aforementioned commission as well at that time. To acquire sufficient funding, he founded a business society Consortium for the Construction of the Provisional Theatre (Consortium für Bau des Interimstheater) with himself in its head and in cooperation with several of his friends. The enterprise had 40 members, each of them invested 2 500 Guldens for the presumed budget of 95 000 Guldens. The city itself invested other 10 000. The construction design for a new theatre building was commissioned to Ferdinand Fellner the Younger, the future architect of the famous atelier Helmer and Fellner.   The final design was approved by the city council at the beginning of August. The Viennese Building Company was commissioned to carry out the construction works with participation of builder Josef Arnold. The total cost for the construction reached 120 000 Guldens. The construction proceeded quickly and the theatre could be opened already on 1st January of 1871 with a performance of Don Giovanni by W. A. Mozart.


The theatre was located in the east sector of the Ratvitovo (the present day Žerotínovo) Square with the main elevation oriented towards the park on the present day Moravské Square where the German House would later stand. It was conceived in the Neo-Renaissance style and its model was the Treumannn theatre in Vienna that was opened in 1860, built to the design by F. Fellner the Elder, the father of the architect. The entire building was wooden with an entrance elevation, which protruding one storey central bay was articulated by four pilaster strips of high order and flanked by two not very exceeding towers with triangular gables. Three entrances in the ground floor were covered by a narrow balcony on four consoles, where glass doors with semicircular arches from the foyer in the first floor led to. The side towers of a square plan were articulated by rustic work in the ground floor, by niches with statues in the first floor and by compound windows in the second floor and topped with triangular gables with dentil molding. The side facades recessed behind them.


Behind the main entrance with three glassed doors, there was a vestibule supported by four columns, from which four separated staircases led onto the balcony with boxes in two circles and a gallery. Opposite to the middle door, there was a cash desk in the shape of a wooden booth. There were entrances into a corridor on both its sides, from which the parterre was entered through three doors and where cloakrooms were located.


There was a foyer above the vestibule in the first floor. The auditorium for 1600 spectators was composed of the parterre with 23 boxes and eleven rows of seats, dress circle with 23 and upper circle with 16 boxes, first gallery with 40 and second gallery with 90 seats.  There were also standing rooms in the parterre and galleries. The auditorium was embellished by an ostentatious gas chandelier. Close to the proscenium arch, there was a vice-regent’s box in the dress circle that was emphasized by more distinctive ornaments.  The press of that time described the space as a representative one. There were dressing rooms on the both sides of the stage and a property room in the rear section behind the stage.


The last performance in the building took place on 5th April of 1882 and then the theatre was pulled down. It played the role of a representative venue in the theatre history of German community that moved to the more representative venue, built to the design by atelier Helmer and Fellner in the Neo Renaissance style.


Sources and literature:



RILLE, Albert. Aus dem Bühnenleben Deutsch - Oesterreichs: Oesterreichs: die Geschichte des Brünner Stadttheaters (1734-1884). Brünn: W. Burkart, 1885. Dostupné z:

http://archive.org/details/diegeschichtedes00rilluoft   s.168-169.

JAVORIN, Alfred. Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích.: 1. díl, Divadla. Praha: Umění lidu, 1949, 318 s. 14 – 15.

HILMERA, Jiří. Česká divadelní architektura: Czech theatre architecture. 1. vyd. Praha: Divadelní ústav, 1999, 319 s. ISBN 80-700-8087-6. s.  28.

DOČKALOVÁ, Monika. Adolf Franckel a německé divadlo v Brně v letech 1866–1875 [online]. Brno, 2010 [cit. 2016-01-16]. Bakalářská práce. Masarykova univerzita, Filozofická fakulta. Vedoucí práce Margita Havlíčková Dostupné z: http://is.muni.cz/th/217712/ff_b/

DIENES, Gerhard M. et al Fellner & Helmer: Die Architekten der Illusion : Theaterbau und Bühnenbild in Europa : anlässlich des Jubiläums "100 Jahre Grazer. Graz: Stadtmuseum, 1999. ISBN 39-007-6421-2. Str. 142.

DUFKOVÁ, Eugenie et al. Putování múzy Thálie: sto let stálého českého divadla v Brně 1884-1984. [Díl 1.]. Brno: St. divadlo, 1984. 228 s., [12] s. barev. fot.

BONDI, Gustav. Geschichte des Brünner deutschen Theaters 1600-1925. Brünn: Verlag des Deutschen Theatervereines, 1924. 226 s.

Mährischer Correspondent, 1. 1. 1871. Dostupné z: http://kramerius.mzk.cz/search/i.jsp?pid=uuid:cc7bef00-e2e1-11e3-bbd5-5ef3fc9bb22f#periodical-periodicalvolume-periodicalitem-page_uuid:37421210-e553-11e3-a012-005056825209



Author: Jan Purkert

Translator: Jan Purkert

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