Courtesy Praha 2000
By creating different themes, the council was able to provide distinct titles to each city. For example, Krakow was deemed the city of "thought and spirituality" while Reykjavik represents "culture and nature." Meanwhile, under the theme of Cultural Inheritance, Prague was selected as the 2000 European City of Culture.
According to Michal Prokop, a former rock star and the festival director of 'Praha 2000', the festivities commemorating the honour can be compared to a "richly set table." Of the "hundreds of planned events," one of the most significant, Prokop said, promised to be the extravagant theatre production of Marquis de Sade on February 21.
The Czech national theatre Stavovské divadlo - where Mozart first presented his famous opera Don Giovanni in 1787 - will host the marquee event, a co-production by Bologna's Arena del Sole-Nuova Scena theatre and Teatro Stabile, with Théatre de l'Union from Limoges in France.
Directed by Romanian-born Silviu Purcarete, Marquis de Sade is the story of the controversial Francois Alphonse Donatien (1740 - 1814) - a French writer and soldier whose career as a cavalry officer was interrupted by periods of imprisonment for cruelty and debauchery.
Celebrated as a philosopher and political activist by his supporters, his critics see him only as a sexual deviant, the 'father of sadism' for his sexually explicit books written mainly in prison.
"In this play, Marquis de Sade is the embodiment of man's desire for absolute freedom," said production spokesman Bruno Damiani.
The Marquis de Sade project has been in the works for two years and originally had a 400-page script, Damiani said. The international ensemble consists of actors and musicians from Italy, Romania, France, Belgium and Hungary.
Organisers also promised a stage set as spectacular as the performance. Numerous props, including large glass boxes and a large pool of water, adorn the stage and will be subjected to an earthquake. The preparations have been so extensive that the February 21 performance of Marquis de Sade will be the only showing.
"We can't present the show more than once, mainly because the set is too difficult to build," said Jiří Srstka, director of the Czech National Theatre.
The play will be presented in French and Italian with Czech dubbing available on headphones. Tickets are available at Prague's major box-office agencies and at the Stavovské divadlo box offices (tel.: 420 2 24215001).
For more information and the list of exhibitions and events of the Praha 2000 - European City of Culture festival see the official web-site in English at
7. Feb 2000 at 0:00 | Ivan Remiaš