Estates Theater – Prague, Bohemia, Czech Republic

Mozart Lives On is This City of Music

Prague has enjoyed an unparalleled cultural renaissance since the end of the forty-year Communist regime.

For centuries a magnet for classical musicians (“Whoever is Czech, is a musician,” asserts a local proverb), it is again a dream for music lovers, with pres­tigious international festivals and an embarassment of choices for those looking to hear the music of Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák, 19th-century local boy won­ders. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart loved this city and called the people “my Praguers.” He basked in their veneration, a welcome change from the lack of appreciation in his native Austria. The spirit of Mozart’s genius is almost tangible in the cherubim-filled Estates Theater (Stavovské divadlo), the site of the premier performance of his opera Don Giovanni, conducted by the composer himself in 1787.

Restored to its neoclassical pale green elegance, and reopened in 1991 on the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, this is a jewel case of tiered boxes that is spectacular inside and out. Concertgoers may recognize the Estates from scenes in the film Amadeus by Czech director Milos Forman; fees from the filmmaking generated the seed money for the theater’s sumptuous eight-year renovation.

Any lucky modern-day audience would be likely to agree with Gustave Flaubert’s decla­ration that “the three most beautiful things ever created in this world are the sea, Hamlet, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.”

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