Prague National Theatre 13 April 2024 - La Sylphide |

La Sylphide

Prague National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic
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Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Prague, Czech Republic
Starts at: 19:00

Taglioni, took place at the Opéra de Paris in 1832. Four years later, the Danish choreographer August Bournonville presented in Copenhagen his own production, to music by the Norwegian composer Herman von Løvenskiold, with Lucile Grahn dancing the role of the Sylph and Bournonville himself portraying the character of James. A gem of the Romantic repertoire, La Sylphide has ever since been performed at theatres worldwide.

The Czech National Ballet in Prague will stage an adaptation of the ballet La Sylphide by Johan Kobborg, a Bournonville connoisseur.

Johan Kobborg gained great acclaim as principal dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Ballet in London. He has also been a sought-after choreographer and director. His La Sylphide is a tribute to August Bournonville and his work, a vital part of the global cultural heritage.

“I am a sylph … I come from another world, and you dream about me.”
And indeed – although she is a phantom, James will soon become obsessed by her, he will love the sylph.

The ballet La Sylphide tells the story of James, a young Scotsman, whose mind is riven. Possessing a restless soul, although he adores Effie, his tender bride-to-be, he longs for a different world, with his visions transcending earthly life. Is it appropriate to dream of sylphs on one’s wedding day? James is duly approached by a sylph, an ungraspable symbol of his desires, who lures him to the forest. Yet a sylph cannot be caught – whenever James stretches out his arm to touch her, she escapes. And when he finally embraces her, she dies. Sylphs cannot live and love like humans …

Precious few ballets occupy a position in the history of art as extraordinary as that of La Sylphide. A ground-breaking work applying a novel dance technique, with the heroine being a spirit clad in a mousseline costume with wings, it shows audiences an entirely different universe, inhabited by magical supernatural beings, a world reflecting desire and dream. The ballet La Sylphide centres on the clash between the real and the unreal, depicting destructive love and extreme emotions.

Johan Kobborg’s La Sylphide has been staged at numerous prestigious theatres worldwide. Premiered by The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London in 2005, it earned Kobborg a nomination for the coveted Laurence Olivier Awards. Highly acclaimed too was the ballet’s  2008 Bolshoi Theatre production, which received three Golden Mask ​​2009 nominations (Best Production, Best Choreographer and Best Dancers categories). In 2014, the ballet’s production in Romania was branded as “Achievement of the Year”. Kobborg’s La Sylphide has also been presented by the Ballett Zürich, the Lithuanian National Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and the Atlanta Ballet. In 2023, it is scheduled to be staged by the Sarasota Ballet, Florida.

The Bournonville phenomenon is timeless. A unique, singular style, which has remained virtually unchanged since its inception, it has been treasured and nurtured in Denmark. The technique has made an impact on classical dance and the ballet repertoire, the approach to direction and staging, as well as dance training. The Bournonville idiom differs from the other ballet styles by its encompassing special enchaînements. Its main principles include that the dancers should perform with natural grace, levity and harmony between the body and music.

Premiere of this production: 28 November 1836, Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark

La Sylphide is a romantic ballet in two acts. There were two versions of the ballet; the original choreographed by Filippo Taglioni in 1832, and a second version choreographed by August Bournonville in 1836. Bournonville's is the only version known to have survived and is one of the world's oldest surviving ballets.

Venue Info

Prague National Theatre - Prague
Location   Národní 2

The National Theatre is the prime stage of the Czech Republic. It is also one of the symbols of national identity and a part of the European cultural space, with a tradition spanning more than 130 years. It is the bearer of the national cultural heritage, as well as a space for free artistic creation.

The National Theatre (Czech: Národní divadlo) in Prague is known as the alma mater of Czech opera, and as the national monument of Czech history and art.

The National Theatre belongs to the most important Czech cultural institutions, with a rich artistic tradition, which helped to preserve and develop the most important features of the nation–the Czech language and a sense for a Czech musical and dramatic way of thinking.

Today, the National Theatre is made up of four artistic companies – the Opera, Drama, Ballet and Laterna magika. It artistically manages four stages – the three historical buildings: the National Theatre (1883), the State Opera (1888), and the Estates Theatre (1783), and the more recently opened New Stage (1983). The Opera, Drama and Ballet companies perform not only titles from the ample classical legacy, in addition to Czech works, they also focus on contemporary international creation.

Grand opening

The National Theatre was opened for the first time on 11 June 1881, to honour the visit of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. Bedřich Smetana's opera Libuše was given its world premiere, conducted by Adolf Čech. Another 11 performances were presented after that. Then the theatre was closed down to enable the completion of the finishing touches. While this work was under way a fire broke out on 12 August 1881, which destroyed the copper dome, the auditorium, and the stage of the theatre.

The fire was seen as a national catastrophe and was met with a mighty wave of determination to take up a new collection: Within 47 days a million guldens were collected. This national enthusiasm, however, did not correspond to the behind-the-scenes battles that flared up following the catastrophe. Architect Josef Zítek was no longer in the running, and his pupil architect Josef Schulz was summoned to work on the reconstruction. He was the one to assert the expansion of the edifice to include the block of flats belonging to Dr. Polák that was situated behind the building of the Provisional Theatre. He made this building a part of the National Theatre and simultaneously changed somewhat the area of the auditorium to improve visibility. He did, however, take into account with utmost sensitivity the style of Zítek's design, and so he managed to merge three buildings by various architects to form an absolute unity of style.

Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Prague, Czech Republic
Starts at: 19:00
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