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Palace Theatre in Mnichovo Hradiště

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)50. 's 18. century | Establishment of the theatre
In second half of 18th century the ballroom was adapted to a theatre.
(detail)1784 | Confirmed reference about theatre
There are preserved bills in the family archive of Valdštejns that confirm the existence of a theatre in 1784.
(detail)1833 | Renovation
The appearence of the theatre was adapted into a Classicism shape, in which the theatre has been hitherto preserved.
(detail)50. 's 19. century | End of existence
In the midlle of 19th century the theatre ceased to exist.
(detail)1995 | Renewal
The theatre was renewed after 1995 by company Thalia Consult, the space is one of castle tours nowadays.

History

English subtitles available

The Baroque look of the château came about over the years 1697–1703 at the time of Arnošt Josef of Valdštejn. A spacious dance hall was constructed in the southern corner of the château consisting of both the first and second floor. The dance hall was adapted into a theatre in the second half of the 18th century at the time of Vincenc of Valdštejn. The family archive of the Valdštejns, in a file of bills of Count Vincenc of Valdštejn, contains the expenses for the opera, 'comedy' and an orchestra from the years 1784-85. The look of the theatre at the time is only testified to by the fact that it was lined with brick. Only the remains of the decoration equipment have been preserved from the original château theatre.

This décor only consists of several coulisse, the portal coat-of-arms and several supplementary items. None of the back-cloths or borders have been preserved. The coulisse were made of wood, covered with canvas and coated with adhesive paint. The decoration was with all probability carried out by Jiří Hisler, apart from other things the author of the figural paintings on the walls of a number of the château rooms. These older coulisse are significantly smaller than the more recent decorations from the year 1833. The height of the side coulisse ranged around 2.80 metres while the width was 0.80-90 metres. All of the side boards were equipped with two wheels on the bottom side, this being a completely different technical approach than that encountered on stages of other theatres at that time.

The coulisse represent wooded scenes, a Rococo room, a ceremonial hall (the architectural motif on the canvases corresponds with the stucco décor of the theatre hall). The other decorative pieces were on the same scale as the side boards and consisted of a single door wing, as well as only two surfaces, figures of lions painted on both sides, stands for Rococo vases, removable coulisse of two houses, the coat-of-arms of Austria and a sign with the inscription 'Lebe hoch'. The decoration is supplemented by the remains of a portal coat-of arms with the symbol of the Czech Kingdom in cartouche.

A significant adaptation to the theatre hall consisted of its costly renovation in the year 1833 to its present day Classicist appearance. The auditorium was newly reconstructed and the stage was significantly enlarged and equipped with a completely new collection of decorations. The château theatre has been preserved in this form up until the present day.

The theatre hall takes up the first and second floors of the south-west corner space of the main wing of the château. It has a rectangular ground plan with dimensions of 10.20 x 18.40 metres and a height of 8.70 metres. A group of three doors lead into the hall, one into the auditorium, the second onto the stage while the third is situated in the left rear part of the stage and leads directly to the staircase on the gallery. The southern and western walls face out on the garden with two windows above one another while the northern and eastern walls are (partially blind) with only one window in the upper part. Thin doubled pilasters on shared high socles and with volute capitals are situated on the surfaces between the windows while one broken pilaster is always located in the corners of the rooms. The walls are white without any painting decoration.

 The château theatre in Mnichovo Hradiště is a theatre of the classic 'opera glass' type. The entire theatre installation is wooden, including the gallery at the rear wall of the auditorium.

The auditorium is rectangular with dimensions of 10.50 x 8.40 metres. The floor rises with five tiers to a height of 0.54 metres. A simple wooden gallery on four prismatic pillars is in the rear part of the auditorium. It has dimensions of 10.20 x 2.30 metres and is divided in longitudinal fashion by one tier. The parapet is covered with painted canvas in at present considerably faded shades of grey and green, with shaded red lines and light white as well as floral motifs in five fields beside one another. The supporting pillars are decorated with a similar vegetative décor. 

The parterre of the auditorium was, according to an inventory list from the 19th century, equipped with long rows of seats with back rests with tiers on both sides and lamps in the middle. There were several armchairs in the gallery. A spacious painting symbolising a tree, representing the family tree of the Valdštejns, hangs above the gallery. The gallery was lit up by a wooden gilded eight-branched chandelier.

A fairly large 2.13 metre deep orchestra pit with space for approximately twelve musicians is located in front of the auditorium behind a 1.26 metre high wooden counter covered in canvas. The stage portal has a painting on it in grey and green colours with red and white supplements. The portal gable has the shape of a fronton borne up on both both sides by a pair of painted fluted pilasters with Doric capitals. The field between the pilasters is filled in with floral décor, with vegetative motifs also decorating the fronton. A head with two opposite faces, with a sword on the left side and a theatre mask on the right side, is painted under the top. The jamb of the portal slightly narrowes in the direction of the stage and is once again decorated with floral décor. A border of green drapery with gold fringes hangs between the inner walls of the portal.

The stage is 7.90 metres deep, 10.20 metres wide while the width of the playing area between the jambs of the portal amounts to 6.60 metres. The front walls of the portal are 1.80 metres wide, while the walls facing the stage are 0.95 metres. The podium protrudes above the level of the floor of the hall at 1.26 metres. The height from the podium to the ceiling is 7.45 metres and to the fly loft 4.80 metres. Approximately a half metre in front of the rear wall is a firm back-cloth with a painting of a columned hall. This is a passageway with two-leafed doors painted in the same manner on the rear bricked wall. A circular flap is situated into the front edge of the stage under which is hidden the prompter's area.

The exchangeable back-cloths were wound onto wooden rollers situated above the stage in the rear part and have been preserved there up until the present day. The side coulisse were moved by hand along wooden rails with wheels in the floor which served to simplify their movement. Four sets of three rails are situated on each side of the stage, both on the floor as well as on the wooden frame bordering from the top the playing area. The rail heads in inclined fashion towards the playing area with the space between them always narrowing by 0.10 metres in the direction toward the depth. Permanent borders of a neutral light-grey colour were hung from the top on the level of the side coulisse. Situating the side coulisse in an oblique manner was rare in theatres at that time while the winding of back-cloths on rollers was unique.  

43 Argand small lamps and four wooden stands culminating in a seven-branched candelabra have been preserved up until the present day from the original lighting equipment. There are 12 openings in all on the ramp designated apparently for the 12 preserved, fitting in terms of shape, lamps. Evidence regarding the lighting between the side coulisse are the rotating, vertical poles located on each row of rails. The holes cut for hanging the lamps are still apparent at present always in threes above one another. Two rotating sheet metal shades, hanging onto the stage on the edge of the ramp and manipulated through handles from the prompter's area, are further evidence of the preserved lighting equipment.

The decoration collection of the theatre in Mnichovo Hradiště consists of back-cloths, curtains side coulisse, borders and several smaller coulisse along with scenery supplements. The back-cloths are 11 in all, with one curtain, 54 side coulisse and 5 borders. The particular scenes represent a forest, a town, a columned hall, three different wallpapered rooms, these being a grey one, a 'lilac' one and a green room. There are additionally a romantic landscape, a landscape veduta, Malá Strana in Prague and the sky. The names of the particular scenes are mostly taken from preserved tags at the hooks for storing the back-cloths while the other names arise from the themes of the paintings. The decorative collection was in all probability created by Vincenc Fischer Birnbaum the decorator of the Theatre of the Estates in Prague. All of the back-cloths are painted on rough canvas with dimensions of 4.50-4.80 x 5.00-6.15 metres and rolled onto wooden pins which were consequently hung from the fly loft. The dimensions of the curtain are 4.80 x 6.88 metres. The dimensions of the side coulisse are 4.24-4.45 x 1.01-1.04 metres with several painted on both sides. The borders measure 0.90-0.99 x 6.30-6.85 metres. Most of the Mnichov Hradiště theatre decorations are of a fixed type, with an exception being the back-cloth with a landscape veduta from the surroundings of the Mnichovo Hradiště château and the view of Malá Strana. 

 

The operations of the château theatre with the likeliest probability ended after the middle of the 19th century parallel with the death of Count Kristián of Valdštejn. The space served for a major period of time as a warehouse for unneeded furnishing. The space was finally cleaned out in the year 1995 for a detailed inventory of the preserved theatre equipment and the consequent restoration work to the theatre hall and the particular scenery parts. The inventory of the elements along with the reconstruction of the space was carried out by the company Thalia Consult. The newly renewed theatre, with so far at least partially reconstructed machinery and one collection of decorations, was opened to visitors  in the year 2000. From this time the gradual restoration of the stage canvases as well as the additional theatre equipment has also been taking place. The theatre is accessible to visitors to the château as an independent guided tour with various opera or dance performance productions taking place here every year.

 

Archive sources:
- Rodinný archiv Valdštejnů, SOA Praha.
- Kronika Kniha pamětí, SOA Praha, RAV, inv. č. 254.
- Cedule Stavovského divadla z let 1830-33, Divadelní oddělení  Národního Muzea v Praze.

Further sources:
- Původní divadelní sál a dekorace zámeckého divadla v Mnichově Hradišti.
- Zámecká knihovna Valdštejnů v Mnichově Hradišti.
- Thalia consult: Projekt inventarizace a restaurace zámeckého divadla v Mnichově Hradišti, Praha 1995.

Bibliography:

- Šimon, A.: Příspěvek k historii cukrovarnictví na Hradištsku, Od Ještěda k Troskám, roč. 6., č. 2,3,4, Turnov 1927, str. 81-82.
- Šimák, J. V.: Sněmování mocnářů v Mnichově Hradišti r. 1833, In: Od Ještěda k Troskám roč. 8, č. 2-3, Turnov 1929, str. 52-68.
- Šimon, A.: Sněmování mocnářů v Mnichově Hradišti r. 1833, Od Ještěda k Troskám, roč. 8., č. 2–3, Turnov 1929, str. 52-68.
- Šimák, J. V.: Máti kapucínů, Sborník od pravěku k dnešku II., Praha 1930, str. 163-183.
- Šimon, A.: Na Hradištsku za revolučních let 1848 a 1849, Od Ještěda k Troskám, roč. 10., č. 3-4, Turnov 1931, str. 61-78.
- Šimon, A.: Klášterské divadelní paměti, Od Ještěda k Troskám, roč. 13., č. 9-10, Turnov 1935, str. 151-156.
- Budil, V. a Herout J.: Mnichovo Hradiště, Státní zámek, město a památky  v okolí, Praha 1960. 
- Bartušek, A.: Le théatre du chateau de Mnichovo Hradiště, Interscaena 73, Acta scaenographica 2/III, Praha 1973.
- Formanová, V.: Státní zámek Mnichovo Hradiště, Praha 1977.
- Poche, E. a kol.: Umělecké památky Čech 2, heslo Mnichovo Hradiště, Praha 1978, s. 411-412.
- Horyna, M.,Lancinger, L., Láska, V.: Mnichovo Hradiště, zámek, město, okolí, Praha 1984.
- Mikanová, E.: Hudba na valdštejnských panstvích v 18. století, In: Studie muzea kroměřížska, Kroměříž 1991, č.…, s.….
- Pömerl, J.: Zámecká divadla v Čechách a na Moravě, In: Divadelní revue č. 4. Praha 1992, str. 3-17. 
- Vlček, P.: Encyklopedie českých zámků, Praha 1994, s….
- Pömerl, J.: Divadlo na zámku v Mnichově Hradišti, In: Divadlo č. 5, Praha 1995, str. 8-12.
- Mohauptová, P.: Zámecké divadlo v Mnichově Hradišti ve výtvarném pojetí, Divadelní věda, FFMU Brno 1999.
- Mohauptová, P: Divadelní dekorace v zámeckém divadle v Mnichově Hradišti, Dějiny umění, FFMU Brno 2000.
- Waldstein-Wartenberg, K.A.: Tisíc let Valdštejnů v Čechách, rozhovor s Rudolfem Steindlem, Bratislava.

 

 

Tags: Habsburg monarchy, Palace theatre

 

Author: Pavla Pešková

Translator: David Livingstone

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