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This neo-Renaissance building overlooking the Vltava River was completed in 1881. The theater was built to nurture the Czech National Revival -- a grassroots movement to replace the dominant German culture with that of native Czechs. To finance it, small collection boxes with signs promoting "the prosperity of a dignified national theater" were installed in public places. Almost immediately upon its completion, the building was wrecked by fire; it was rebuilt and opened in 1883 with the premiere of Bedrich Smetana's opera Libuse. The magnificent interior contains an allegorical sculpture about music and busts of Czech theatrical personalities as well as paintings created by Czech artists of the National Theater generation -- Myslbek, Ales, Hynais. Composer Bedrich Smetana conducted the theater's orchestra here until 1874, when deafness forced him to relinquish his post. Today, the theater plays host to a demanding repertoire of drama, opera, and ballet.