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The National Theatre constitutes the embodiment of the Czech nation’s desire to come into its own. People from all strata of society contributed generously to a fund to build this symbol of nationhood and the ceremonious laying of the foundation stone of this edifice on 16th May 1868 proved to be an all-nation political demonstration.
The National Theatre was opened for the first time on 11th June 1881 to honour the visit of Crown Prince Rudolf. Subsequently there were 11 more shows after which the theatre was closed down to finish the building work. While this was in progress a fire broke out on 12th August 1881 which destroyed the copper dome, both the stage and auditorium. The fire was regarded as an all-nation catastrophe and generated immense determination to raise funds once more: within 47 days one million florins were amassed.
The National Theatre was officially opened on 18th November 1883 with a performance of Smetana’s opera Libuše composed for this gala occasion.
Currently this historically extremely important and beautiful edifice, together with the annex of a modern building which is home to the administration and also includes the main box office, serves as the main stage of three National Theatre ensembles: drama, opera and ballet.