The first theatre in Europe with electric lighting
Has housed the National Theatre since 1919
The National Theatre Brno performs plays here
Several of Janáček’s operas premiered here in the 1920s
What is now the Mahen Theatre on Malinovského náměstí (Malinovsky Square) was originally a German theatre built in 1882–1883, based on a design by the Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. It made its mark on history by becoming the first theatre in Europe to be fully equipped with electric lights. In 1919, the building was taken over by Národní divadlo Brno (the National Theatre Brno), which until then had resided in a modified restaurant and dance hall on the corner of Veveří Street. The opera Káťa Kabanová premiered here in 1921 and Příhody lišky Bystroušky (The Cunning Little Vixen) in 1924. These were followed in 1925 by Šárka, in 1926 by Věc Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair), and in 1930, two years after the composer’s death, by Z mrtvého domu (From the House of the Dead). The premiere performances of all but the last one were conducted by Chief Conductor František Neumann and directed by Ota Zítek. Janáček also had orchestral works produced on this stage, including the premiere of the rhapsody Taras Bulba. On 15 August 1928, the citizens of Brno gathered here to say their last goodbyes to the famous composer.
This building has also been the site of other premieres, such as the opera Hry o Marii (The Miracles of Mary) by Bohuslav Martinů in 1935 and the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev in 1938.
Today, the dramatic ensemble of the National Theatre Brno performs in the Mahen Theatre. The opera and ballet ensembles usually perform in Janáčkovo divadlo (the Janáček Theatre), built years later, where works by Janáček form a permanent part of the repertoire.