The show must go on: Prague's State Opera reopens despite flooding

The Czech capital's landmark opera house has begun its season on time despite torrential rains that caused extensive damages to its lower levels. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 26.08.2023 09:59:00 (updated on 27.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague's State Opera will return for its new season this weekend despite recent challenges caused by torrential rain and flooding. The opening weekend performances are scheduled for August 26 and 27, with a pair of operas directed by Ondřej Havelka on Saturday followed by Verdi's timeless masterpiece La Traviata on Sunday. Both performances feature English surtitles.

Torrential rain struck the State Opera building on August 17, causing its basement to flood and significant damages estimated at millions of crowns. However, National Theater spokesman Tomáš Staněk confirmed that the opening of the new theater season remains unaffected.

The extent of the damage caused by the rain is still being assessed, with initial estimates suggesting the costs to be in the lower tens of millions of crowns. Fortunately, the National Theater, which operates Prague's State Opera, is insured against such losses.

The flooding led to temporary disruptions, including disabled machinery. The stage technology room was also flooded, rendering it inoperative at least until mid-September. Many areas require several more weeks for drying and repair, but costumes and decorations have already been cleaned.

Unfortunately, the flooding also inflicted irreversible harm to the wooden floors of the underground rehearsal room, rendering it unusable for the entire season. Rehearsals and preparations for new productions have been relocated to rehearsal rooms at other theater buildings.

Musicians will also experience temporary inconveniences, as tuning rooms and dressing areas will remain unavailable for several weeks.

State Opera director Jan Burian speculated that the opera house's unfortunate location along a busy highway might have contributed to the extent of the damage caused by the rain. He noted that the presence of the highway meant water couldn't easily escape the area of the building during such extreme weather events.

Prior to the floods, the State Opera's recently underwent a costly renovation CZK 1.3 billion renovation that lasted three years from 2017-2019. The historic building underwent extensive reconstruction to enhance its facilities, including new stage technology, rehearsal rooms, and improved artist amenities.

Despite the recent troubles, the State Opera remains one of Prague's cultural treasures and dates backs to the late 19th century. With the season's opening performances now underway, the opera house stands as a testament to resilience and artistic dedication.

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