Prague is a city that is so rich in music history that if attending a classical concert isn’t on your list of things-to-do, it definitely should be. Even those without the background knowledge of classical music can appreciate that it was in Prague where Mozart premiered his opera Don Giovanni. Great Czech composers include Antonín Dvořák (you would probably recognize his Symphony No. 9 from The New World) and Bedřich Smetana (my favourite work of his being The Moldau – which was inspired by the Vltava river that flows through Prague!)
I was very keen to have a classical experience in Prague and as I was looking for tickets online, I was delighted to discover that Don Giovanni was running at the Estates Theatre. Why was I so delighted? Because the Estates Theatre was where Mozart first premiered this opera in 1787! (Yes, I get excited about these kind of things.) Apparently the audience loved it so much that they gave him a 30 minute standing ovation!
I bought my ticket in the very last row of the balcony as it was in the cheapest price range (hey, I’m travelling on a budget here!) I was a little bit concerned because I thought the view would be too restricted – and to an extent it was, as you had to sit at the edge of your seat and lean forward to see the stage – but luckily, the first row of the balcony had a lot of empty seats and we were all allowed to move forward. So I ended up in the first row of the balcony. You still had to sit at the edge of your seat, but you were able to learn your head on hands as you looked over the rail and simply soak it all in – it was a magical way to watch the opera!
Whichever opera you go to, if you do not already know the plot, I would suggest looking it up beforehand. There are no subtitles and it might be a struggle for you to follow along if you don’t have any prior knowledge of the story. Some theatres do provide subtitles, but just in case, reading the plot prior to attending is a good idea. That way you can enjoy the costumes, the set, the vocal prowess, and the atmosphere without having to constantly wonder what in the world is going on.
If you attend in the summer time like I did, be prepared that it gets very hot in the theatre as they don’t have air conditioning. (or at least, it felt like they didn’t have air conditioning!) I can hardly imagine how uncomfortable it must have been with all the sweaty bodies crammed into the theatre in 1787 for the premiere – must have been unbearable! I was consistently using my map to fan myself throughout the performance, and even that didn’t seem to help much.
The theatre itself is very beautiful, ornate and elegant. It was designed in neo-classical style and features shimmering chandeliers and detailed images of heavenly beings. Even just being in the theatre was an experience! But I think what I loved best was just knowing that 228 years ago, a young man named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down at the harpsichord and showed the world his masterpiece for the first time. I could just imagine him in his white wig with his fingers flying across the keys, as he proudly watched his work come to life. To me, that was the most amazing thing of all and I am so happy I got to have that experience.