Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival highlights 700 year anniversary of historic event

Foto: ČTK

Now in its 52nd year, Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival transforms composer Bedřich Smetana’s home town in east Bohemia into a paradise for music lovers. The music festival, which is the country’s second oldest, kicked off on Friday and will run until July 5. What can visitors expect this year?

Photo: CTK
For another three weeks, the hometown of one of the country’s most famous composers, Bedřich Smetana, will be all about classical music. The Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival transforms the town into a Mecca for classical music lovers, including younger listeners, says festival director Jan Pikna.

“Whoever comes to Litomyšl is surprised that concerts, operas, classical music performances – which all are associated more with the older generation – are very often frequented by the younger listeners. It’s really true that we attract and educate our own audience. And we don’t even have to do so in some sort of calculated way, or by offering a different genre of music than we already do.”

Maybe the roster of top class guests is part of the reason that the festival is so popular with visitors both young and old. Most at the 2010 Smetana’s Litomyšl come from within the Czech Republic.

“This year, above all we will present top performers from the Czech Republic. For example: Eva Urbanová, Dagmar Pecková and Ivan Kusnjer. And opera houses from across the Czech Republic will perform, such as the Prague National Theater, the Brno National Theater and the Prague State Opera.

Photo: CTK
“Most of our foreign guests come from Luxemburg, for example the chamber orchestra Les Musiciens. Other than that, we have not invited any stars from abroad, because our program is already very full as it is.”

This year’s main theme is the 700th anniversary of the Count of Luxembourg, John the Blind, taking the Czech throne and becoming the King of Bohemia in 1310. While the anniversary only has a loose connection to the actual festival, it has great significance for the town of Litomyšl as such. Under John the Blind, a bishopric was set up in Litomyšl, boosting the town’s status in the Czech lands, which lead to a blossoming of culture that continues to this day.

Authors: Martina Bílá , Sarah Borufka
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