This gorgeous castle, which Vratislav of Pernštejn had built in 1568–1581 for his wife Maria Manrique de Lara, could have been designed by the builder Giovanni Battista Aostalli de Sala for the holding of concerts. He not only provided the castle courtyard with open arcades, reminiscent of theatre boxes, but in particular also perfect acoustics. And so when the composer Bedřich Smetana was born at the castle brewery, there could be no doubt that this was a place predestined for music. Smetana’s Litomyšl has organised concerts and performances in the castle courtyard since its first year in 1949. From the same year also dates the desire of organisers and festivalgoers for the courtyard to be covered when the weather turns inclement. It was managed only as recently as 1998 and now during the festival a unique sliding construction is mounted over the courtyard: in good weather concerts are held beneath the stars, while when it rains it becomes a roofed hall. The auditorium has a capacity of 1299, and the 18x12 m podium can accommodate a large orchestra with a choir or even an opera performance with rich settings. The exceptional atmosphere, adequate comfort and excellent acoustics create the perfect setting for an artistic performance.
The stage is 18m wide and its deep might be adjusted according to needs of the current performance for 8, 10 or 12m. Therefore also the auditorium capacity is a subject to change. The auditorium consists of a tribune (8th row and up) a variable rows under the stage. The maximum capacity is up to 1334 seats for the concerts with not so many perforemrs with the smallest stage. But the acoustics suits better large orchestras, larger stage and without rows 1A and 1B - then the capacity is 1274 seats. For oratorios with large orchestras and choir the stage must be even bigger and we don't place rows 3 and 4 - then the capacity is 1186 seats. With operas the orchestra is obviously placed under the stage, in this case we can't place rows 3 to 7 and the capacity is 1047 seats. And large scene operas might need the stage even deeper, and then there are no rows left under the stage and there is only the tribune with the capacity of 975 seats. There always might be up to four wheelchairs for all mentioned situations.
The whole auditorium offers great visibility and acoustics, but according to the quality it is divided into four sections. The best A section is situated in the center of the tribune. The B+ section surrounds the A section, and the edge is the section C. Under the stage there are variable rows. In the middle there is a B section, and the edge is also the C section. The arcades are used for honorable guests and are not sold usually.
In the years 1903-1905 Smetana House was built on a site previously occupied by the Karlov summer palace, in the hall of which little Bedřich Smetana first performed. This masterpiece of neo-renaissance architecture with Art Nouveau elements was built by J. Kreml to a design by J. Šula, V. Šulc and J. Velfík, with the external sculpted decoration provided by A. Popp and O. Walter. The ostentatious exterior corresponds to the rich internal decor. The Large and Small Halls as well as other spaces were decorated by Rudolf Hamršmíd and A. Kulhánek, while the curtain was painted by František Urban. Smetana House was ceremonially opened on June 11, 1905, with an amateur performance of the opera Dalibor that involved many significant figures, among them the National Theatre Director F. A. Šubrt and the writer Alois Jirásek. Since that time Smetana House has fulfilled the role of a cultural centre, hosting concerts, plays, balls and social events, as well as acting as a base for many of Litomyšl’s associations, choirs and amateur ensembles. The Large Hall with almost five hundred seats has also been used for programmes in Smetana’s Litomyšl, especially for chamber concerts, but also for theatre performances with musical themes, which are often part of the festival.
The auditorium capacity including balcony is 487 seats + two wheelchairs. The elevated auditorium is divided into three sections according to its distance from the stage, but all seats has great visibility and acoustics.
Piarist Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross
The building of the monumental Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross for the Piarist order was organised by the owner of the Litomyšl estate Count František Václav Trauttmansdorff. The designer and first builder of the church was, from the year 1714, the eminent Baroque architect Giovanni Battista Alliprandi, and after his death František Maxmilián Kaňka completed the building in 1722. A number of significant Baroque artists participated in the decoration of the church, however the interior suffered in the repeated fires. In the 20th century the church was neglected, the socialist authorities not showing much concern for a religious structure and so without the needed work the Piarist church fell into disrepair. In 1972 it was closed to the public and was only reopened some forty-two years later. In 2010 extensive reconstruction begun, funded from the Integrated Operational Programme of the European Union and the church was reconsecrated by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk during a festive mass in 2014. The Baroque decoration was supplemented with works by the contemporary artist Václav Cigler and an exhibition of church works from the collection of the diocesan museum. The Piarist church is a dominant feature in Litomyšl. Its return to the life of the town meant that it could be used not only for religious purposes but also as a venue for concerts and other cultural events.
Especially for the festival there are added seats to create the auditorium capacity of up to 580 seats + two wheelchairs. The church has a long sound, therefore the organisers choose programmes which accommodate these sound conditions well. Still the acoustics is quite different in every area, the C section is the one where the experience is slightly worse adn therefore it is much cheaper. The seats are not numbered, so you need to find the best seat on your own. We highly recommend to take your seat soon enoough before the concert starts.
Chapter Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross
The Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross was built in 1378 as part of the Augustinian monastery, founded by Litomyšl’s then bishop Jan ze Středy, Charles IV’s erudite chancellor. The monastery was demolished by the Hussites and fell into disuse, and the church was destroyed not only by the Hussites but also by several fires, which due to its densely built state affect all of Litomyšl. Repairs led to a mixing of styles, and so it is mainly St. Joseph’s Chapel on the south side of the presbytery that has retained its gothic form. The major part of the furnishings of the church is Baroque from the second half of the 18th century. At the end of the 19th century the church was in several stages partially ‘regothicised’ and thus gained the main features of its current form, and part of today’s furnishings are also neo-gothic. The significance of the church was confirmed when in 1994, on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the establishing of the Litomyšl bishopric, a collegiate chapter was founded. In May 2000 a new organ was consecrated, constructed by the company Vladimír Grygar – Varhany Prostějov. One of the largest instruments in eastern Bohemia, it is designed to interpret music from all periods. During the programmes of Smetana’s Litomyšl many top organists have tried it out.
For organ concert the auditorium capacity is up to 480 seats + two wheelchairs. For chamber concerts the capacity is slightly lower. The acoustics is perfect from all the seats, but the visibility might be lower somewhere - those seats in C section are therefore much cheaper. As the seats are not numbered, we highly recommend to take your seats soon enough before the concerts.
Castle Riding Hall
In the twentieth century this comfortable space in which to exercise noble horses became a barn, storehouse and workshop and only in the 1970s began to be used for cultural activities. It was renovated with a view to creating a place to hold festival programmes that were planned for the castle courtyard but were rained off. However it lacked both the capacity and the acoustics for this, and so it was most often used rather as an exhibition gallery. Its current appearance is the result of the project “Revitalisation of the castle hill” in 2013. The architects Jan Šépka, Tomáš Hradečný and Petr Hájek improved the acoustics with an ingenious piece of technical equipment, making it possible to transform the length of the reverberation according to requirements. They built a sliding stage into the space, which can be altered to change the capacity and so change the large hall into a more intimate environment. While multifunctionality and variability are its main attributes, another is the originality of the creative concept. All the equipment is made from fibreglass – glass matting embedded in ambercoloured resin. Its translucency makes it appear ethereal, creating interesting light effects, and objects become less substantial, creating ideal surroundings for exhibitions and a variety of cultural events. Smetana’s Litomyšl has thus gained an ideal venue for concerts of an alternative character and a lecture hall for introducing festival programmes.
For concert the auditorium capacity is up to 480 seats + two wheelchairs. The flat auditorium is divided into three sections according to its distance from the stage. The seats are not numbered, therefore we highly recommend to take your seats at least a half hour before the show starts.
Nové Hrady Chateau
Some 15 km from Litomyšl in picturesque countryside stands the rococo Nové Hrady Chateau. It was built by Count Jean-Antoin Harbuval de Chamaré in 1774–1777 to a design by the Tyrolean architect Joseph Jäger in the style of French summer residence. In the years that followed the extensive grounds were completed which have remained preserved in their original form. It includes an ornamental park, a circular gazebo and large granary, and a range of support buildings and other small structures. The chateau deteriorated markedly in the twentieth century and was in a desolate state when Petr Kučera and his wife Magda bought it in 1997 from the family that had reclaimed it from the state. With the unbelievable commitment of the whole family they managed in a relatively short period to reinstate the chateau’s former glory as the „Czech Versailles”. They have managed to fill the chateau and its grounds with activity and attractive exhibitions, bringing in visitors. Showing vision they planted bushes that following the example of the Baroque natural theatre and after years of growth to the form of the theatre that was their dream it was offered to the Smetana’s Litomyšl festival. Since 2012 the festival has laid on a summer season here presenting several-day specially rehearsed productions of operas by Baroque composers. An evening in Nové Hrady should include taking in an exhibition, examples of period entertainment and an opulent reception.