The Estates Theatre


by Alice Lechner



Built in 1783 by Anton Haffenecker in a classical style of architecture, The Estates Theatre is the oldest theatre still standing in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction was initiated by the enlightened aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck, led by the desire to aggrandise his native city as well as the souls of its inhabitants. The actual construction was accomplished in less than two years and the theatre was officially opened in 1783 with a premier of Lessing’s civic tragedy Emilia Galotti. In 1798 members of the Czech Estate bought the theatre and since then, the theatre was called Royal Theatre of the Estates. The Estates Theatre, together with the State Opera, has been a part of the Prague National Theatre since 1920 and has a regular program of operas and theatre plays.

A theatre devoted to the homeland and the muses.

The construction, one of the most beautiful historical theatres in Europe, was sponsored by the aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck. For this reason, the theatre first came to be known as the Rieneck Theatre. This, for the Prague of those days, exceptionally significant project corresponded to the spirit prevailing at the end of the 18th century, when it was customary to build theatres at European courts, to promote enlightenment in the belief that theatres open to the general public served as a moral institution demonstrating the cultural standards of a nation. Inscribed above the portal is the motto Patriae et Musis (To the Homeland and the Muses), which illustrates the grandiosity of the founder’s initial intention, and which has maintained its validity to the present day. Following its affiliation to the National Theatre with its motto The Nation for Itself, the two became natural corelates.

Mozart and the Estates Theatre.

The Theatre of the Estates is permanently associated with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is worldwide famous as the place where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni (29th October 1787 – which Mozart himself conducted) and the opera La Clemenza di Tito (1791), to mark the coronation of Leopold II. After conducting another of his famous operas, Le Nozze di Figaro, in Vienna, where it wasn’t received well, Mozart decided to try his luck in Prague. Here it was an instant success and Mozart was given an offer to write an opera for the Estates Theatre. He had half a year to finish his work, but due to certain unforeseeable circumstances, Mozart started to write the opera only on the way to Prague. To the great dismay of the audience, the premiere was postponed several times. In the end, Mozart had to set the date of October 29th, and the last parts of Don Giovanni were written just a few hours before the performance started. Despite the long delay, Mozart received a standing ovation that, some historians say, lasted close by half an hour. Prague was won over! To commemorate Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a statue of Il Commendatore was installed next to the theatre’s entrance in 2000. The Estates Theatre is the only theater in the world where you can watch Mozart’s opera performed on the original stage. Several founding generations of Czech theatre-makers were actively involved in the Estates Theatre. From the pioneers, the brothers Thám, J. N. Štěpánek, to Klicpera, J. K.Tyl, J. J. Kolár, etc. Also appearing on this stage was, for example, K. H. Mácha, while the first Czech modern opera – Škroup’s The Tinker – was presented here in 1826. The song “Where is My Home”, which would later become the Czech national anthem, was first sung in 1834. Throughout its history, the Estates Theatre allured a host of distinct artists of Europe-wide significance: Carl Maria von Weber held the post of musical director; Angelika Catalani sang here; the violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini gave a concert; Arthur Rubinstein, Carl Goldmark and Gustav Mahler conducted at the Theatre. Other famous names include the actors W. A. Iffland, F. Raimund, J. N. Nestroy, Wenzl Scholze, Ira Aldrige, Rachel, and many others.

Did you know that?

・When the Nostitz family was selling their theatre to the Estates, they included one interesting condition in their contract. According to this condition, one balcony in the theatre’s stage should always belong to their family.

・The oldest member of the Nostic Rieneck family, Mathilda Nostitz, still owns the balcony in the Estates Theatre and takes care of the building.


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Alice Lechner
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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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