Opera is the grandest and most potent cultural expression of the nationalist movement which led to the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. During this period Czech opera developed into a genre of major artistic importance cultivated by composers of the stature of Smetana, Dvorák and Janácek. Czech Opera examines opera in its national contexts, and is a study not only of operas written in Czech, but also of the specific circumstances which shaped them. These include the historical and political background to the period, the theatres in which Czech plays and operas were first performed, and the composers and performers who worked in them. The role of the librettists is given particular prominence and is complemented by a detailed chapter on the subject matter of the librettos shedding light on the subject matter of the historical and mythic background of the genre.