National Theatre gala concert and special coin to commemorate 200th anniversary of Smetana

Saturday, March 2 marks 200 years since the birth of Bedřich Smetana, one of the most internationally renowned and nationally celebrated Czech composers. Czech Radio is dedicating a weekend of programming to the anniversary, a number of events are taking place around the country, and a special coin has been minted to mark the occasion.

Bedřich Smetana is inextricably linked with the development of Czech classical music and opera, the National Theatre in Prague, and the Czech National Revival itself, and as such is a national icon. So it is only fitting that in 2024, the Year of Czech Music and the 200th anniversary of his birth, a whole host of events be dedicated to him under the slogan Smetana200.

The National Theatre's "piazzetta" | Photo: Dominika Bernáthová,  Radio Prague International

The highlight will undoubtedly be a gala concert on Saturday evening at the National Theatre in Prague. Under the leadership of the musical director of the National Theatre Opera, Robert Jindra, and three other renowned conductors (Tomáš Netopil, Rastislav Štúr and Jiří Rožná), the National Theatre Orchestra, the National Theatre Choir and some excellent Czech and Slovak soloists will guide the audience through the world of Smetana's compositions.

But don’t worry if you don’t manage to get tickets – the concert will also be broadcast live from the National Theatre straight onto a large screen in the theatre’s “piazzetta” or outdoor courtyard, so you can bring a blanket or a cushion and watch the performance in the open air.

And if the weather’s bad, there’s one more way you can catch it – Czech Radio’s cultural station, Vltava, will also be broadcasting it live over the airwaves.

Robert Jindra | Photo: Zdeněk Sokol,  National Theatre

Indeed, Vltava’s entire weekend programme will be dedicated to the father of Czech music. On Sunday evening, Vltava will also broadcast the premiere of a new studio recording of Smetana's opera Two Widows, performed by leading soloists and the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Robert Jindra, especially for Smetana's big anniversary.

There are plenty of other cultural events going on for Smetana200, both in Prague and elsewhere in the country, but in addition to these, perhaps there is one other thing worth mentioning – the Czech National Bank is issuing a special commemorative silver coin for the anniversary. With a nominal value of 200 crowns, the collector's coin designed by Jiří Hanuš features a portrait of Bedřich Smetana on one side and the inscription "Má vlast" (My Homeland, a famous work by Smetana) integrated into a panorama of Prague on the other. Only 21,500 pieces have been minted, so if you want one, you’d better hurry!

Author: Anna Fodor | Source: Český rozhlas
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