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Town Theatre Krnov

Leo Kammel

alias Cinema Národní and City theater (1945 - 1948), Cinema Národní and Julius Fučík Theater (1948 - 1990), Lichstspiel und Stadttheater (1928 – 1945)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)11.11. 1928 | Ceremonial opening
The construction of the building, which commenced in 1927, was finished. The design was created by architect Leo Kammel.
(detail)30. 's 20. century | Adaptations of the theatre
Several adaptations were carried out, because the facilities had to be enlarged to fulfill better the conditions of the theatre operations. In 1930 was built first extension, in 1932 was added storage of the scenery set, in 1934 another storeroom was added and finally in 1936 an annexe with offices.
(detail)60. 's 20. century | Adaptations
There were carried out several adaptations, concerning for instance reconstruction of the electrical distribution, reconstruction of the auditorium, replacement of the seats and painting of the auditorium.
(detail)1982 | Completion of the reconstruction
The reconstruction , done between 1977 and 1982 , involved mainly stage area.
(detail)2005 | proclamation of the theatre as a " cultural monument"
The theatre was proclaimed by Ministry of culture as a cultural monument. In Czech republic it is an act of official recognition of importance of any cultural work to be a part of national heritage. Source : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_culturel_(République_tchèque)


(detail)Leo Kammel |main architect

Disciple of Jan Kotěra, he is considerred as a main representative of  the direction in architecture in  1920´s in Vienna, which is  infuenced by cubism .  Remarkable are his projects from 1920´s , which are deeply influenced by his relation to Czech cubist architecture. Later he inclined rather to Functionalism.

Source: Architektenlexikon

More theatres

(detail)Zdeněk Máčel |painter

Author of the mural painting Harlekýn by the entrance to the bude from south- west side.


(detail)Stanislav Böhm |sculptor
The author of metal relief in the corridor in 1th floor from the north-east side.


The first records about the theatre in Krnov are dated in the 16th century. One report mentions that English actors performed William Shakespeare’s plays at the princely court in the first half of 17th century.  The theatre in Krnov was thriving again during the times of Joseph’s II reforms. Since 1790, performances took place in the former St. Wenceslas church, however, this venue was closed at the beginning of 19th century. The stage activities in the church were revived after its reconstruction in January 1854. Musical plays were performed in the hall of the Tiroler hotel (in what is today Silesian house).

In the 1920s, the absence of a suitable theatre venue caused the town council headed by the mayor Richard Andratschek to consider the construction of a theatre. At the end of 1926 or the beginning of 1927 they have commissioned the architect Leo Kammel (1885-1948), born in Kamenický Šenov and the pupil of the renowned Czech architect Jan Kotěra to draft the theatre project. Kammel came from a family of a businessman Willibald Kammel. After finishing secondary school, he studied at the Prague Academy of Art, Architecture and Design. First, between 1902-1905 he studied drawing and painting; then, between 1905-1908 he studied architecture under the tuition of Jan Kotěra. Between World War I and World War II, he spent most of his time working in Vienna where he participated in building huge residential complexes - mainly houses, but also markets. He worked on the conception of decorativism and expressionism and was inspired by the work of the German architect Peter Behrens and the Austrian architect Clemens Holzmeister. In Czech Republic, he designed the expressionist theatre building in his native town of Kamenický Šenov (1928). Unfortunately, the theatre interiors were destroyed when the building was adapted to a cinema in the period of 1968 to 90. He also designed the theatre in Krnov and some years later the cinema in Novy Jicin (1930). When comparing the design of these building, his inclination to the architecture of the New Objectivity (functionalism) becomes apparent. They are modelled on the buildings of the German architect Erich Mendelsohn with their expressive round quoins.  

The theatre is located on the western edge of the historical town centre between the central square and the railway station, which used to be an urban area with single story brick houses. These houses were demolished in late June 1927. Based on the building permit issued on 23 September 1927, the Krnov-based construction firm Koch & Kindermann started the construction of the theatre. The building shell was completed at the beginning of April 1928 and the works on the interiors continued until the end of the summer of the same year. The final building approval was awarded on 2 November 1928. The official opening took place on 11 November 1928. The renowned pianist Poldi Mildner performed at the event accompanied by the Municipal Orchestra; after the concert, there was a screening of the film Der Meister von Nürnberg. The first Czech performance took place on 12 November 1928 when the Prague National Theatre ensemble performed Smetana’s The Bartered Bride. On 15 November, the first German piece was performed - the opera Der unsterbliche Franz by the Austrian composer Julius Bittner and the librettist Ernst Décsey.

In line with the expressionist architecture, Kammel situated the theatre in diagonal position on the corner of streets. In designing architectural element and details of the theatre he used bevelled and rhomboidal shapes – also an expression of the expressionist dynamism. A reformed proscenium stage theatre was established with an oval-shaped auditorium and slightly sloping-down seating area. The stage had a trap and a rather modest backstage which had to be expanded in the following decade. At the back of the auditorium, there is a circle made of reinforced concrete. The pit under the circle is closed by a segmental arc with twelve boxes divided by an alley in the middle. In the circle, the architect built eleven boxes behind the front parapet, and three boxes on each side of the screening cabin behind five ascendant rows. In the middle of each side wall, there are two separate boxes for the mayor and VIP guests, which were originally decorated with expressionist baldachin. These boxes had a good view angle - better than the view from proscenium boxes. The proscenium boxes were unacceptable as there were plans to use the theatre as a cinema on regular basis to generate income.  

Originally, the stage portal was designed as monumental, expressionist opening. In the epistyle axe, the portal was decorated with the relief of the Krnov town emblem. However, the portal was covered by neutral facing in the second half of 20th century. Originally, the orchestra pit in front of the slightly descending forestage had a capacity for more than 42 musicians.

The stage with the dimensions 13m (width), 9m (depth) had four traps, a light-blue cyclorama and 21 bars. The acting area had the following dimensions: 10 m width, 8.5m depth. The stage was lit by 3 spotlights from the auditorium, 15 stage lights, 4 upper border lights and one footlight. In the second half of the 1940s, there were 9 dressing rooms in the building, 1 furniture store room, 1 costume shop, an office and two flats for the theatre and cinema custodians. There was a fuel storage room in the basement, and a workshop and two storage rooms in the annex building in the yard.

As early as in 1930, some more contraction work had to be done so that the theatre could host different theatre groups. The construction of additional parts of the theatre building took place in 1932, 1934 and 1936. A roofed loading bay platform was built behind the stage house; a property room and a scene dock were built in the north-eastern part of the theatre; additional dressing rooms and an office were built in the south-western part. These extensions were designed to match the architectonic style of the theatre. After 1945, there was more contraction work done primarily to repair the damage caused during the war. The reconstruction of the electricity network was not done until the early 1960s. Between 1964 and 1965, the original expressionist chandelier was removed from the auditorium. The entire auditorium was then newly painted, and at the same time, the original acoustic curtain above the portal and the seats were removed and replaced by new ones. The number of seats in the auditorium has reduced from 1009 to 864. In 1974 more construction work was done in the auditorium: a new acoustic ceiling was installed which covered the original ceiling; walls were covered with wood and chipboard. The original stucco portal carrying the Krnov town emblem was also covered, and it is not known to what extent the original stage portal was preserved. Further construction work was done between 1977 and 1982 on the stage where new equipment was installed – the fly bars were replaced by new ones, a catwalk was installed, the fly facilities were extended and elevated by three metres; the traps were closed, and more dressing rooms with toilets were built below-stage. The seat capacity was reduced once more to 809 seats.

Apart from the fact that the name of the theatre was changed in 1990, the last cinema screening took place in June 1991. Since then the building serves exclusively for theatre performances, concerts, shows and other social events. After 1990, the façade of the theatre was renovated, cast stone socle was covered with a gauzy cover. After the floods in July 1997, when the boiler house was destroyed, a junction exchange station for steam water heating from the public supply was installed in 1998 in the second-level basement. During the adaptation work, which took place from September 2002 till January 2003, the space of the former smoking room and the back of the booth were converted into a bar. In August 2005, based on the proposal of the Heritage Institute in Ostrava, the Ministry of Culture has declared the theatre in Krnov a national heritage site listed in the Cultural Heritage Register under no. 100100. In 2006, the wooden roof truss was renovated, steel elements were installed there, and the roof was covered with a fiber-cement roofing; the small triangle ventilation holes on the sides of the hipped roof and the metal sheet ventilation roof above with the auditorium were also repaired.


The original name of the theatre was “Lichtspiel und Stadttheater” / Městské kino a divadlo v Krnově (The Municipal Cinema and Theatre in Krnov). This name was also used shortly after the Second World War. After the communist putsch in February 1948, the theatre was renamed to Julius Fučik’s Theatre. This is why the bust of this member of the communist revolt promoted by the propaganda was installed in the theatre. After 1945, the cinema was named Narodni. In 1990, the name of the theatre was changed back to the Municipal Theatre Krnov and the bust of J. Fucik was removed.


Symmetrically designed, partly one-storey, partly two-storey building with a broken rectangular floor plan forming five sides of octagon in the front, is situated diagonally on the corner of Mikulášská street and E. F. Buriana. A part of the building (under the stage house) has two levels of basement, the rest of the theatre has no basement. The roof is mostly hipped, covered with fiber-cement roofing. Due to the reconstruction in 1980s, the fly facilities are higher – there is an extension with a flat roof.

The front façade, which faces Husovo namesti in the north-west, has five-axis structured by Romanesque pilaster strips (extended on the side axes), which run from the socle up to the crown moulding and carry a low roof parapet with plastic structure above the three middle pilaster strips. The roof parapet is topped by a triangular gable structured by plastic rhombic panels. The ground floor originally had three entrances. The middle entrance was walled up after 1945 and covered by travertine panels (the box office was later built in this section from the inside of the theatre, separated by a wooden partition wall). The entrances can be accessed through wide granite staircase. There is a sun-blind made of reinforced iron above the staircase with the external side of frame shaped in an expressionist style. On the first floor level, each of the three central axes opens with a window. Original steel flag poles are installed in the side frames with Romanesque pilaster strips and no windows.      

The west and north face of the building resemble the entrance façade, including the Romanesque pilaster strips around the window frames and the gables. The side face of the theatre building has four axes with small boxes for the programme on the ground floor level above the socle. Above them there are small windows which bring light to the cloakrooms and adjacent rooms on the ground floor. On the first floor level, the side face is broken by large vertical windows. There are buttresses with stairs build against the north-east and south-west face walls behind the first window axe with side entrances and glass verandas. The mass of the buttresses with stairs is broken on the ground floor as well as on the first floor level by narrow combined rectangular windows with expressionist decoration - palm tree trunk shapes decorating the poles dividing the window sills.

Behind the buttress, the south-west facade continues with one-storey axes; in the last axe there is an entrance for actors and staff. In the 1930s, a scene-dock was attached along the whole north-east façade. The south-east façade at the back of the building is supported by a middle buttress which is topped by the mass of fly facilities. Up to the level of the original principal cornice, the fly facilities are structured by Romanesque pilaster strips. The principal cornice is topped with an extension of the fly facilities with flat rooting. As early in the 1930s, a loading bay platform roofed with a shed roof was attached to the back façade designed in the same expressionist style as the older parts of the building.

The theatre entrance is through a foyer. Its ceiling is covered by a plastic rhombic grid with bulb lights in sockets installed in cross points of the individual formerets. There is a colourful broad stone floor which was installed during the renovations in 1960s or 1970s (other public spaces – the corridors, the auditorium, etc. – are covered with grey linoleum imitating marble). There are three sets of doors leading from the foyer to the cloakrooms (the original metal hangers are preserved). The front convex wall of the vertical corridor contains thirteen access doors leading to the boxes in the stalls. There are two double-wing doors in the side corridors also providing access to the stalls. Opposite these doors, there are two staircases with three flights leading to the first floor and ending at the two side entrances providing access to both side boxes and at the two side entrances providing access to the circle with open boxes. Then, there is another flight of stairs on each side leading towards the back boxes above the circle, to the bar, to the former booth and lighting tower equipped with an old control board from 1974.

The design of the auditorium was altered during several stages of renovations: Among the most important works is the wall facing done in the 1960s, creation of the cascade acoustic ceiling which replaced the original low vault, removal of baldachins above the VIP boxes, covering of the original portal or reducing of the size of the orchestra pit. The current capacity of the theatre hall is 694 seats. The actual stage portal is 8 metres wide, and 5 metres high. The stage house has an iron safety curtain and netting. Originally, a painted curtain (destroyed) and a screen frame were also used. Since the floods in 1997, it is not possible to pull down the screening frame.  

The actual stage remains 13 metres wide and 9 metres deep. Nevertheless, together with the extension of fly facilities it is almost 17 metres high. The actual acting area is 10 metres wide and 8.5 metres deep. Currently, there are no traps, only one access hole from the basement. Out of 18 fly bars weighing 160 kilograms, 4 are run by an engine. The lighting equipment is composed of 60 manageable circuits divided between two motor-operated and fixed batten lights (bridge 1 and bridge 2). There are access doors into the costume shop and some of the dressing rooms on the north-east side of the stage; from the south-west side of the stage, it is possible to descend to the first basement through a metal staircase. There is a spacious rectangular room right under the stage leading to the orchestra pit with the capacity for 30 musicians. There are dressing rooms on the opposite side of the room. The staircase also provides the access to the junction exchange station which replaced the solid fuel room on the second basement floor.

Along with the theatre building in Kamenicky Senov damaged during its renovations, the Municipal Theatre in Krnov represents a unique example of expressionist theatre architecture in Czech lands. The architectural value of the theatre building is increased by the fact that both the exterior and the interior have been well preserved. However, more sensitive renovation is required in the near future, especially the modernization of the technical equipment of the theatre. 




- Hutarsch, W.: Das neue Lichtspiel und Theatergebäude in Jägerndorf; In: Jägerndorfer Ländchen III, 1928, č. 11, s. 81-82.

- Javorin, Alfred: Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích I. Divadla; Praha 1949, s. 94-95.

- Vybíral, Jindřich & Zatloukal, Pavel: Architektura let 1850-1950 v Krnově; In: Umění XXXVIII, 1990, č. 6, s. 529.

- Blucha, Vladimír: Krnov. Město mezi dvěma řekami; Krnov 2007, s. 105-107 a 140.

- Weishmann, H.: Das rote Wien. Socialdemokratische Architektur und Kommunalpolitik 1919-1934. Wien 2002, s. 469 aj.

- MS [Martin Strakoš]: Kammel, Leo; In: Kulturněhistorická encyklopedie Slezska a severovýchodní Moravy I. (A – M). Ostrava 2005, s. 403-404.


Tags: Art deco, detached building


Author: Strakoš Martin

Translator: Zdislava Kratěnová

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