Written by Gaela LaPasta, (Cornell University) Student Correspondent CET Film in Prague, Spring 2018
Prague is known for many things: an astronomical clock, a fancy bridge, meat, but one thing that doesn’t get much attention and should is the wealth of amazing, cheap theater that is available in Prague. I was one of those “theater kids” in high school and as such I see as much theater as I can. I never expected that Prague would give me the opportunity to see the finest ballets, operas, and plays without breaking the bank.
Being a student in Prague is pretty amazing. You get discounts at museums, art galleries, and sometimes even bars. Even better, you can get student discounts for theater. Most local theaters offer student discount around 25-50%. Even without discounts, theater is extremely affordable. I have been to the opera in Prague for $5! Mind you, my view wasn’t very good- and by that I mean there was a huge pillar in front of my face, but I still enjoyed the music. So far in Prague I have been to two operas, two ballets, one traditional drama, one classical quartet and one circus performance. All were extremely affordable.
Opera is in the air in Prague. It is everywhere. Now, I’m not a huge opera fan but I can enjoy the music and extravagance and, of course, the theaters. I saw Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the Estates Theater where it debuted in 1787 with Mozart conducted it. And all of that was achieved for $5!! Plus maybe a little extra on a chlebicky and some wine at intermission, but even the snacks are cheap by Broadway standards. Plus, the tickets are so cheap you won’t feel bad spending $4 on a glass of prosecco at intermission.
Although I absolutely enjoyed myself at the $5 opera and ballet I attended, I would highly recommend spending a little but more and sitting in an unobstructed view seat or even better in a box. When luxury can be afforded, I say go for it! When I went to see Chekhov’s Three Sisters, I got the chance to finally sit in a box seat. Drama is much cheaper than opera or ballet, so my friends and I got box seats to this hilarious, heartbreaking classic for about $6.50. A box seat makes you feel like old Austro-Hungarian royalty: you get a great view, comfy little seat, your own coat rack and a mirror to make sure you look your best for all the peasants staring up at you. It was a great experience.
Often when buying tickets online, at the checkout there is an option to apply a discount. For many operas, plays, and musical performances everyone under the age of 26 gets a 50% discount. This is why I was able to see an amazing classical quartet at the famous and beautiful Rudolfinum for just 35 crowns, around $1.50. This is a really unrivaled opportunity to see live performance!
Although I usually go to plays at Narodni Divadlo, the National Theater in Prague, I have seen some performances at more informal venues. Prague has a lot of great, independent theaters. My warning for these is to make sure that they have English subtitles, as you could end up spending money on a ticket and sitting through two hours of incomprehensible Czech. My picks for where to see theater in Prague apart from the National Theater is Jatka78, a modern circus company and art space housed in an slaughter house, MeetFactory, and Svandovo Divadlo.
A short visit or an extended stay in Prague is a great time to see a lot of theater and expand your horizons. When a friend visited me, I had the great joy of treating her to her very first opera. She was amazed by the quality of the performance and it was really awesome to get to introduce her to a new art form on a student budget. I highly recommend seeing some sort of theater while you’re here, particularly at one of the National Theater venues, which are pieces of art in and of themselves. This opportunity is not to be missed!