The State Opera in Prague, one of Europe’s most exquisite theatre buildings, constructed to commission from the Deutscher Theaterverein (German Theatre Society) according to the plans designed by the Vienna-based studio Fellner und Helmer, initially housed the Neues deutsches Theater (New German Theatre, 1888–1938). Following the end of World War II, the building became the property of the Czechoslovak state.
The State Opera Orchestra and Chorus are direct continuators of the bodies that have resided in the State Opera building since 1945. Besides collaborating on the opera performances held at the State Opera, the orchestra has also presented itself independently – over the past few years, it has regularly appeared within the Prague Autumn International Music Festival, has been the lead protagonist of the State Opera New Year’s concerts, and its live performance in tribute to George Széll, featuring works by Széll and Bohuslav Martinů, has been recorded on CD. The orchestra has also participated in the prestigious Decca label’s live recording of a concert version of Pavel Haas’s opera The Charlatan. Moreover, it has given independent performances abroad, including in Germany (Fürth, Ludwigshafen, Bad Elster, etc.) and has made two tours of Japan. Bearing witness to the orchestra’s high quality is the fact that in 1993 maestro Plácido Domingo chose it to accompany the finalists of his Operalia competition in Paris.
The numerous major projects the State Opera Orchestra has taken part in over the past decade include the Czech premieres of Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias (directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi) and Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice (directed by Yoshi Oida), the well-received productions of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, Guiseppe Verdi’s La traviata (directed by Arnaud Bernard), Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (directed by Marcelo Lombardero) and, in the recent seasons, the critically acclaimed and popular productions of Richard Strauss’s Salome (directed by Mariusz Treliński, in co-production with the Polish National Opera in Warsaw) and Elektra (directed by Keith Warner, in co-production with the San Francisco Opera and the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe), the Czech premiere of Britten’s Billy Budd (directed by Daniel Špinar), as well as special concerts at the Forum Karlín, featuring among others the globally renowned Austrian tenor Andreas Schager.