The Karlín Music Theatre
The Karlín Music Theatre, at which the National Theatre will be performing some of its opera and ballet productions during the time of the reconstruction of the State Opera building, is one of the oldest and most beautiful theatres in Prague.
The Neo-Baroque building, completed in 1881, was furnished with tables and initially served for circus and, later on, vaudeville performances. In the wake of World War I, the director Karel Hašler extended the repertoire to include cabaret shows. In the 1920s, the building hosted performances given by various theatre companies, including the National Theatre from Bratislava. In the early 1930s, the building housed the Modern Operetta company, yet soon vaudeville returned to its stage. Only in 1932 were the original tables and chairs replaced with standard theatre seats. During the time of the Nazi occupation, the building was the venue for performances of the company from the closed National Theatre, under the title Provisional Theatre, and in 1944 of the Vinohrady Theatre drama company.
In 1945, the director E. F. Burian launched in Karlín the regular operation of the repertoire music theatre. In the past, the theatre frequently changed its name: Theatre in Karlín, Operetta in Karlín, Comic Opera. After 1948, when it belonged to the Czechoslovak State Film organisation and was titled the Theatre of People’s Art, Jan Werich and Oldřich Nový were appointed as its managers. Werich transferred to Karlín from the V+W Theatre the musical The Wonder-Making Pot (based on Finian’s Rainbow). In 1950, the theatre came under the City of Prague, and in 1954 became the property of the state and was given a new name: the State Theatre in Karlín. In 1961, it was returned to the City of Prague as the Karlín Music Theatre, and has remained so until the present day.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Karlín theatre employed distinguished Czech artists: the stage director Jiří Frejka, the artistic director Jan Werich, the famous actor and director Oldřich Nový, while those staging its productions included Alfréd Radok, with the avant-garde writer Vítězslav Nezval working there too. At the time, a number of celebrated actors performed in Karlín, including Ljuba Hermanová, Jaroslava Adamová, Soňa Červená, Jiřina Steimarová, Rudolf Cortés, Vlasta Burian, Jára Pospíšil and Vladimír Ráž.