Illustration photo – Opening of the 65th year of the Smetanova Litomyšl music festival, June 15, 2023, Litomyšl. Czech Philharmonic with conductor Tomáš Netopil.
Litomyšl (Svitava) – The Smetanova Litomyšl music festival started this evening with a performance by the Czech Philharmonic with conductor Tomáš Netopil. President Petr Pavel and his wife also sat in the audience. They entered the hall to the sound of fanfare and applause from the audience. The concert started after the national anthem.
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First on the program was the Scherzo from Bedřich Smetana's Triumphal Symphony, then with pianist Kirill Gerstein, the Philharmonic performed Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto in C minor, followed by Dvořák's Slavic Rhapsodies.
Due to the general repair of the Litomyšl castle, this year the main stage moved to the multifunctional hall, which was specially adapted for the festival. Inside the winter stadium, a concert hall with a sloping auditorium called the Festival Hall has grown. The walls of the building are surrounded by a translucent polycarbonate shell, which is lined on the inside with a sound-absorbing material. The acoustics of the hall are therefore decent and suit classical music well. Spectators will also be delighted by the comfortable upholstered covers on the otherwise traditional seats. The hall also became a gallery with works by Jiří David and Alfons Mucha.
Until July 2, the festival will offer 37 programs of the main program, which will complement the accompanying program in the Festival gardens and Smetanova výtvarná Litomyšl. The dramaturgy chose the Belle Époque (beautiful times), as the period at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is referred to. The unprecedented progress of science and technology enabled the development of all human activities, including art.
The organizers promise a great experience on June 18 with the launch of one of the famous compositions of the time, Arnold Schönberg's Songs from Gurre. It will be performed by 300 performers, with 16 percussion instruments including iron chains. Because of its difficulty, the three-part cantata for five vocal soloists, narrators, choirs and a large orchestra is rarely performed. The Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno, the Slovak Philharmonic Choir, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform at the concert, the conductor will be Petr Popelka.
The 65th edition of the festival will also focus on opera work. The program includes a large selection of arias from Pietro Mascagni's The Cavalier Farmer, Ruggero Leoncavallo's Comedians, Alfredo Catalani's La Walla and a number of famous songs of the era. The audience will also hear a representative selection from the operas of Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.