This year’s Smetana Litomyšl promises to be biggest yet

The annual Smetana Litomyšl, the second oldest music festival in Czechia and the country's largest classical music festival outside of Prague, gets underway on Saturday. This year’s edition, marking the bicentenary of the birth of Bedřich Smetana, promises to be the biggest in the festival’s history. I discussed the event with its artistic director Marek Šulc:

“It will be the largest festival so far, not only in terms of the number of days – we are starting this Saturday, June 8, and the final concert will be on July 6 – but we also have the biggest number of concerts. So it really will be a full month of music in Litomyšl.

Marek Šulc | Photo: Smetanova Litomyšl

“As you mentioned, there is a big Smetana anniversary, 200 years since his birth, and we are celebrating here in Litomyšl, because this is where he was born. So this occasion will be very special for us.”

The festival opens on Saturday with a concert entitled A Tribute to Smetana. What will be on the programme?

“It will be our guests from Prague, the Czech Philharmonic, which is the partner orchestra of our festival, conducted by Jakub Hrůša. As you said, it will be a celebration of Smetana, so only Smetana’s pieces will be played.

“It won’t be only orchestral pieces, symphonic pieces or the pieces from his operas, but there will also be a solo piano played by Ivo Kahánek. And we also have a special, non-musical guest – the very famous new Czech circus ensemble, Cirk La Putyka.”

Jakub Hrůša | Photo: Martina Schneibergová,  Radio Prague International

New circus and Smetana seems like a rather unusual combination. How do the two go together?

“I think it will be great. They will be performing to the part from the Bartered Bride called The Dance of Comedians, from the third act of the opera. So I think it will be great to see the best Czech orchestra with the best Czech conductor in this scene accompanied by a new circus, dancers and acrobats!”

Can you mention at least some of the other highlights of this year’s special edition of Smetana Litomyšl?

“Yes. I already mentioned a number of Smetana’s pieces, but not just Smetana’s music will be performed at our festival. I would like to mention a performance of Janáček’s Jenůfa featuring a dream cast. We have Pavel Černoch as Laca, Pavol Brešlík as Števa and Eva Urbanová as Kostelnička. Jenůfa will be sung by Alžběta Poláčková.

“We will also have a big opera gala concert, featuring, for the first time in Czechia, the great Freddie De Tommaso, who many people call The New Pavarotti. So we are really looking forward to that.”

Smetanova Litomyšl v jedné minutě

Author: Ruth Fraňková
run audio


  • Czech Music Greats

    2024 is the Year of Czech Music, a celebration held once a decade, on every year that ends on the number four, a number that marks many Czech music anniversaries.

  • Faces of Czech Music

    Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Martinů – Czechia can boast a number of renowned figures from the past, but what about Czech music today?