A QUICK TRIP TO LITOMYSL
The 47-th annual International Opera Festival called Smetana's Litomysl is already over. I am very happy that- after many years of fruitless planning to come here- I finally succeeded to catch at least one concert in Litomysl this year. Even though my visit was very short, I will have many lovely memories of visiting the town, the local sights, and the music festival. I recommend this visit to all those who like music, history, and the beautiful surroundings of this Eastern Bohemia town. Make sure that you include Litomysl and its Music Festival in your plans for your next vacation (end of June and beginning of July).
In Litomysl you will find a beautiful renaissance castle, once a proud residence of the Pernstejn family who built it. ( More precisely, it was built by Vratislav of Pernstejn whose wife Marie gave him 21 childrenhe needed lots of room!) This unusual structure was built according to the plans of the Italian architect Aostalli and is included among the 12 historical sites of the Czech Republic, listed in the prestigious UNESCO list of world treasures. Adjoining the castle is a monastery, gymnasium and several lovely gardens on the hill above the town. You will have a chance to visit those while attending the music festival, because the whole complex with its main square, churches and gardens is used for the production of operas, oratorios, choral concerts, theater presentations and exhibits.
The atmosphere of this location is memorable and unforgettable- this is the place where the composer Bedrich Smetana was born, where the writers Alois Jirasek, Josef Kajetan Tyl and Bozena Nemcova lived and worked. Famous orchestras, ensembles and artists from many countries take part in the festival, including those of the National Theater in Prague. This year, the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Phillidor performed here. In addition to classical music many other genres are also represented. Of course, most popular are the Smetana operas, such as the Bartered Bride, and other favorites , e.g. La Traviata or Swan Lake- all done by the cast of the National Theater.
I was fortunate to attend the concert called ATONEMENT ( SMIRENI) .It consists of two parts, namely Requiem, composed by Andrew Lloyd Weber, and the Reconciliation Oratorio- an extensive work composed by a Czech composer Jiri Pavlica. Both compositions were presented by the Prague Philharmonic orchestra, with soloists of the Boni Puerti boys' choir and of the Kuhn Mixed Chorus with soloists S.F. Saturova, P. Levicek, E. Drizgova, V. Hajnova, R. Novak ( In the Reconciliation Oratorio). The music is accompanied by readings presented by S. Postlerova and O. Brousek. Weber ?s Requiem had a lot of pathos and one could hear some influence of jazz music.
The Reconciliation Oratorio must have surprised a lot of listeners- of course in the positive way- especially by its different genre. Mr. Pavlica is known for his smiling face, for his work as a violinist, singer and the main personality of a famous folklore group called Hradistan. Mr. Pavlica showed himself to be a classical composer par excellence.
Of course, his Hradistan had already become a first-class ensemble, working with e.g.the Chamber Orchestra of Leos Janacek, A.G. Flek, the Spiritual Quintet , Bambini di Praga, etc. Pavlica also composes music for films and drama productions.
The ATONEMENT is a very unusual and impressive work which combines several musical genres- folk-spiritual- and classical music with recitations of biblical texts in Hebrew, Latin, Greek and old Slavonic languages. This unusual combination most certainly affected both believers or nonbelievers. The performers were rewarded by a long applause and a standing ovation. We hope that this work will soon become known outside of the Czech Republic.
Every visitor to the Litomysl music festival receives a very extensive and well written Festival Newspaper which contains not only a description of all the concerts, theater productions and exhibits, but also interviews with artists, information about accommodations, restaurants and descriptions of trips into the environs of Litomysl. The Smetana Museum is open during and after the concerts. Here the composer was born in 1824- in what used to be a brewery. The visitors are also shown a small wooden cradle where his mother used to put him to sleep! The main square of Litomysl is surrounded by arcades where visitors can walk even in rainy weather. In its western part you will find the statue of Bedrich Smetana. Behind it is a good restaurant called U slunce, where you can get good food at reasonable prices. The whole town is lit up after dark and the visitor may take lovely strolls and visit quaint outdoor cafes in romantic Litomysl. Come and visit us next year!Martina Fialkova
Translated by Marie Dolansky
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