The public turned out in force for a doors open day at the Prague State Opera building on Saturday. Queues of people waited for up to two hours in freezing temperatures for a glimpse behind the scenes at the opera. Organisers said the event’s popularity had surpassed their expectations. The doors-open day was staged to mark the building’s 120th anniversary, and offered visitors not only a tour of the theatre, but a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the soloists’ dressing rooms and the prop and costume stores as well. A spokesperson for the opera house said that the public’s positive response meant that more events of this sort would be organised in the future.
The world’s largest coffee-shop chain Starbucks plans to open some 20 outlets in the Czech Republic and Poland this year. Saturday’s Mladá Fronta reported that the Czech Republic would have its first Starbucks by March 2008. It is speculated that this first branch will be opened in Prague’s Palladium shopping centre, with others to follow in the city’s other malls. There are more than 15,000 Starbucks in over 40 countries. This year, the chain aims to expand into Central Europe, as well as Portugal and Bulgaria.
Czech Egyptologists have discovered a priest’s tomb that is thought to be over 4,500 years old, reported Mladá Fronta on Saturday. The cleric’s tomb is said to be one of the most important discoveries of the last half-century. Egyptologists found the priest Neferinpu’s sarcophagus down a ten-metre deep pit. The tomb was undisturbed by grave-robbers when the Czech scientists found it. The small underground chamber held the remains of the priest Neferinpu and his family, alongside jewellery and ornaments.
Czech farmers enjoyed their best year since the fall of communism in 2007, the agriculture minister Petr Gandalovič has said. Mr Gandalovič estimates that Czech farmers made a collective profit of 16 billion CZK (800 million USD) last year, this is compared to 9 billion CZK in 2004. According to Mr Gandalovič, Czech agriculture is in a healthy state overall, though Czech pig farmers are faring badly. Mr Gandalovič told journalists that the future was, however, uncertain, with changes planned to affect the EU’s agricultural policy this year. Since the Czech Republic joined the European Union, its farming sector has made a yearly profit of between 6 and 9 billion crowns.
On Saturday night a special concert is taking place in Prague’s Lucerna. Singer Iva Bittová is performing alongside her sister - also a musician - Ida Kelarová. This is the first time the sisters have performed in public together. The duo are set to sing a series of jazz classics, accompanied by some of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s most famous jazz musicians. Proceeds from the concert will go to the charity MIRET, which offers artistic training to the Czech Republic’s Roma community. The concert was set to take place in May of last year, but was postponed due to the Bodies exhibition which was housed in the Lucerna over this period.
The Women’s World Cup giant slalom was won in the Czech ski-resort of Spindleruv Mlyn by Italian Denise Karbon on Saturday. This is her fourth successive win in the event. The 27-year-old, who had won in Panorama, Canada, and twice in Austria in Solden and Linz, beat Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen while Austrian Elisabeth Goergl was third. Home-grown talent Šarka Záhrobská ranked twenty-seventh in the event.
The Slovak low-cost airline SkyEurope is considering transferring its aircraft from Bratislava to Prague, it has been announced. The firm is unhappy with Bratislava Airport’s proposed increase in handling fees. The airport, where four of SkyEurope’s aircraft are based, is awaiting approval to raise handling costs by 40%. SkyEurope has said in a statement that it is not planning to pull out of the Slovak capital altogether, but is looking to continue its growth elsewhere. Prague and Vienna are both possible candidates. The airline has 14 planes in total. Six are currently stationed in Vienna, while Prague and Bratislava have four apiece.
The pilot of a plane which crashed last month, killing all on board, was flying without a license, reported Mladá Fronta on Saturday. The small chartered plane crashed on a flight from the Czech Republic to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, killing all five Czechs on board, last December. The enquiry into the accident found that the pilot and owner of the aircraft, Miroslav Jäger, was flying without a valid license. As such, Mr Jäger was found responsible for the crash by the investigators. The aircraft crashed some three kilometers away from its final destination, when it attempted to land in a field in thick fog.
On the eve of Three Kings Day - January 6, two processions are being held in the Czech capital. The first is the traditional procession of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. This procession is led by the three kings riding camels - starting at the castle and ending up at the nativity scene on Loretánské naměstí, where a representation of the baby Jesus is given gifts by the three men. The second procession is being held by monarchists. That is starting on Wenceslas Square, and finishing at Prague Castle.
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