Annual opera festival underway in Bedřich Smetana's hometown
The East Bohemian town of Litomyšl has a lot to boast of, from its UNESCO World Heritage status to its lively year-round atmosphere. Nonetheless, what this town of 10,000 most frequently boasts of is that it is the birthplace of the composer Bedřich Smetana, and since 1949 it has been the home of a major music festival that bears his name. Now in its 60th year, Smetana's Litomyšl Festival continues to draw some of the biggest personages in classical music.
It might seem strange on one hand that the country’s second largest classical music festival would take place in a small town, seemingly off the beaten track. But this is a track long tread by musical tradition, as the festival’s artistic director Vojtěch Stříteský reminded me.
That something would be a stunning renaissance château, a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its ample stately court for concerts, the huge churches around the town that testify to its former glory as a religious centre, and a plethora of ancient vaulted spaces, all of which make Litomyšl the apple of a festival organiser’s eye.
"Smetana's Litomyšl is subtitled as an international festival of opera, but in the past it was a kind of exhibition of the domestic opera scene. Today the festival is a completely international affair. There are musicians from 13 countries performing and audiences consist of classical music lovers from all over Europe."
And if you are one of those classical music lovers you still have the chance to enjoy another 3 weeks of a program ranging from opera to ballet off the ancient alleyways of Smetana’s Litomyšl.