Labuti Jezero aka Swan Lake

A group of us got our theater best on and headed to the Narodni Divadlo (the National Theater) to see the Czech National Ballet perform this classical work, which dates back to 1877.

For a former dancer and non-dancers alike, this was truly an enriching experience of Prague culture. Particularly, given the fact that CNB was the first to perform the ballet outside of Russia.

The ballet, usually set in four acts, explores faithful love and deception. This production had a wonderful blend of the well-know 1895 revival choreography by Petipa and modern touches set to Tchaikovsky’s score. Story transitions were clearer while also adding aspects to possibly push the boundaries of Czech society. Folk inspired dances gave a taste of flamenco, the Mazurka and Russian dance.

To secure tickets, the traditional methods were available, though some better than others. Prices were cheaper in general than the US counterpart at roughly 500-1100 Kc (or $30-60). I ended up walking in person to the box office to secure the best of the remaining tickets.

The attendant was very friendly and proficient in English. I had read that the company cancelled some shows earlier in the month – he said that was likely due to the recent flooding and that he had seen a high demand for these tickets in particular.

The theater is smaller than expected but generous on architectural detail. Red velvet seats, carvings with gold gilding, and magnificent proscenium frame. As an MBA student, several questions come to mind: what is the book value of such an asset and what is the associated maintenance cost or depreciation?

Programs were not included in the ticket price. To purchase, present the usher with 50 Kc. What one receives amazed me. Multiple pages of large photos, biographies, and descriptions in several languages. In the states, such a program would cost a small fortune, particularly for a small company. But at 2.96 in US dollars and considering a markup was added, what is the actual cost?

The dancers, costumes, stage staff, ushers, etc. – what are the operating costs?

In the US, performing arts rarely recoup operating costs with ticket sales alone. The difference is made up with grants, foundations, and individual donors. What is the situation here in the Czech Republic?

To be continued…

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