Dance the Night Away at Prague Opera Ball

The New York Times

Ladies dressed to the nines, men in tuxedos. A rococo Prague State Opera House is the setting, though the entertainment ranges from arias to a traditional Cambodian dance. Oh, and you are there to waltz. This imaginative evening isn’t a dream sequence — it’s time once again for the annual Prague Opera Ball, scheduled this year for Feb. 5.

While typically regarded as a Viennese tradition, the first opera ball was held in Paris at the beginning of the 18th century. Intensive preparation time is required to transform an opera house into a dancing one — in this case, replacing all 364 seats on the ground floor of the State Opera House (75 Legerova; 402-296-117-111;

“This year’s challenge of the Prague Opera Ball is to deepen the ties of Prague and the Czech Republic with the world around us,” said Zuzana Vinzens, event manager at C&B Communication Group, who will be organizing the event for the first time. “And where to start if not with our friends?”

The King of Cambodia, HM Norodom Sihamoni, has close ties with the Czech Republic, and is the one world leader who can speak Czech fluently. His sister, HRH Norodom Arunrasmy, is the ball’s patroness and along with a group of Cambodian women dancers will perform the roban kbech boran, a traditional Cambodian dance. The entertainment continues with performances by the soprano Marie Fajtova and the Bohemia Balet; the State Opera orchestra will perform the music for the traditional Strauss waltzes and Smetana polkas.

But the program kicks into high gear the later it gets, with more modern rhythms supplied by the Czech outfit Boom!Band, plus a performance by the well-known Czech singer Jiri Korn.

There will also be sustenance provided for all those dancers.

“We believe that the music at the ball should first allow for good dancing,” Ms. Vinzens said. “But we want the ball to be not only a culture event, but also a gastronomic highlight of the season. We chose five outstanding Czech chefs who will prepare a typical old Czech degustation menu.”