Culturally, Prague is one of the best provided capitals of Europe, serving up a rich and heady offering of grand opera, ballet, classical theatre, mime, chamber and symphony concerts, folk dancing, jazz and disco, and eating out. And the venues too are magnificent, ranging from the ornate splendours of the National Theatre to the Gothic intimacy of St Agnes Convent.
Theatre and concert performances generally begin at 19.30 hrs, but check before you set out. The times of recitals and chamber concerts vary. You can hear operas by the great Czech composers, Smetana, Dvorak, Janacek and Martinu at the National Theatre, side by side with masterpieces by Mozart, Verdi, Rossini and Puccini. Ballet and theatre performances also take place here but modern theatre has its own stage – the Nova scena where comedies by playwright and now ex-President Vaclav Havel, compete with classic productions of Chekhov, Strindberg and Capek. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra gives regular symphony concerts but if you prefer something on a smaller scale, look out for recitals by the Virtuosi di Praga or the Martinu Quartet. Internationally renowned soloists like James Galway also drop in from time to time, although it may be a while before Placido Domingo is in Prague again.
Jazz is very much the front runner where popular music is concerned – see the listings below for the leading clubs. Live rock is not yet widely available so you may have to settle for the latest disco sounds. Children in particular will love the mime and puppet theatres for which Prague is famous but the Magic Lantern is for everyone. A perfect marriage of technical wizardry and artistic imagination, each show contrives a delicate balance of mime, music, poetry and film to stunning effect.
You can book theatre tickets through Cedok, your hotel or ticket agencies:
Opera, Ballet and Theatre Narodni divadlo (National Theatre), Narodni 2, Praha 1
Smetana Theatre, Vitezneho Unora 8