We were invited by Joe McNally and his wife Anne Cahill to join them in Prague for a week of wonderful food, excellent company and photography. Joe and Anne are incredibly talented artists and had organized the trip to Prague. We are blessed to be their friends.
The city exceeded all our expectations. Below is but one slice of the story.
Joe McNally is an internationally renowned photographer and Anne Cahill is Professional Markets Director for Adorama.com in New York City. Anne organized the trip to Prague and Joe arranged the photo session with the principal dancers of the Prague National Ballet Company.
All that we knew was that we were going to the Municipal House for a photo shoot. We were met at the Mayor’s office by Alexander Katsapov and Nikola Marova, Principal Dancers for the National Ballet Company. The initial shoot was done in the Mayor’s Office of the Municipal House where the proclamation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia was signed. This is an incredibly important historic site for the people of the Czech Republic.
The Mayor’s Office was set up in a formal manner as if the original signers to the proclamation were sitting in a circle of chairs. It became very apparent that we could not shoot these extremely gifted dancers without moving all the furniture so that they would dance and strike poses. I must admit, I was a little intimidated as we rolled up the large persian carpet and moved the desk and the chairs to the side of the large office. I fully expected the security guards to burst into the room at any moment and have us arrested. Joe had secured all the permissions from New York City, which must have been very difficult to arrange. Everything was carefully put back in place after the shoot.
Alexander and Nikola, who are husband and wife, were extremely generous of their time, including costume changes and multiple settings. We are very grateful to them for making that evening the highlight of our visit to Prague.
We then moved onto the balcony of the Smetana Hall, which is a striking example of the Art Nouveau period of the early 1900′s for the final lighting session. The balcony was about 100 feet above the main floor of the concert hall. It was very steep and we were carefully climbing over the seating around the professional lighting equipment to photograph this rare opportunity while trying not to knock anything over the balcony.
Afterward, we all retired to a local Czech restaurant and celebrated an amazing evening.
The Municipal House (in Czech, Obecní dům) is a major civic landmark and concert hall in Prague, and an important building in architectural and political history in the Czech Republic. It stands on the Náměstí Republiky. Construction started in 1905 and it opened in 1912. The Art Nouveau structure is an artifact of the Czech nationalism of the time and carries a wealth of ornament by some of the leading Czech artists of its day. The main facade features a large ceramic half-dome mosaic above the entry, Homage to Prague, by Karel Špillar.
On either side are allegorical sculpture groups representing The Degradation of the People and The Resurrection of the People by Ladislav Šaloun, while the remainder of the rich decoration was done by Josef Mařatka, František Úprka and others, with light stands designed by Karel Novák. Inside there are murals by the famous Alfons Mucha, Jan Preisler and Max Švabinský and others, all of this on nationalist themes.
The main space within the Municipal House is the concert space, Smetana Hall, named in honor of Bedřich Smetana. On October 28, 1918, Smetana Hall was the scene of the proclamation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia.