A festival like no other in the world
For 20 years now, the Czech capital has been celebrating the music of the 13th to 18th centuries. Every summer, for almost three weeks, Prague echoes to the sound of early instruments, Baroque concerts and concerts by the Collegium Marianum orchestra at the Summer Festivities of Early Music. This year, event organisers are inspired by how things were done in the past: Prague's aristocracy were great organisers of superb celebrations combining concerts, dances and plays, with spectacular firework displays bringing the evenings to a close.
Besides music, the event is all about combining different disciplines to offer spectators a really immersive experience. Traditional music, Baroque dance, Renaissance theatre (with make-up, costumes and choreography from the time) are played out in locations best suited to the theme and added to over the years. And so, palaces, castles, churches, monasteries and other historic buildings in Prague are once again the stage for intense drama.
An authentic journey back to Europe's cultural past, each performance literally transports the audience, inviting them to immerse themselves in the music and movements of the time, exactly how it used to be done in the Bohemia of old. The multi-discipline approach and high-calibre performers invited each year make for an extremely rich cultural experience.
This year for the 20th anniversary of the festival, the line-up includes some new performers joining the list of already internationally acclaimed artistes famous for the quality of their art.
The Church of Saint Simon and Saint Jude will resonate to the sound of Jubilate Deo (11 July) with the Cappella Mariana vocal ensemble, leading exponents of Medieval polyphony. The monumental work by composer Cristóbal de Morales will shake the dazzling, gilded walls of the church.
Troja Castle, a former summer residence on the banks of the River Vltava, will become the temple of In the Gardens of Muses (29 July). This fascinating show will take you back for an evening of melodies that entertained the salons of Paris in the Age of Enlightenment. The piercing chords of the harpsicord will blow you away...
Břevnov Monastery, built in the 10th century and then remodelled to its present architecture in the 18th century will host Due virtuosi (31 July). The performance will take place in the Maria Theresa Hall, named after the Empress who visited the monastery in 1753. During the concert, gaze up at ‘The Miracle' fresco adorning the ceiling, a masterpiece of Baroque art.
Dance in all its forms
An unusual venue, the ABC Theatre is located in the basement of the large department store U Nováků, built in first years of the 20th century. Designed by Czech architect Osvald Polívka, it was extended at the end of the 1920s into a luxury complex with shops, offices, cafe and the hall, now known as the ABC Theatre. This year, the place is set to host Coffee Ballet (17 July), a humorous dance show to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
To close the 2019 festival, the Rudolfinum, home of the famous Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, will give a special performance of A Night for the King (6 August). This tribute to French Baroque opera features singers Katherine Watson and Reinoud Van Mechelen at the top of the bill. Dancers Anna Chirescu and Artur Zakirov will perform the accompanying choreography designed by Natalie van Parys. This final gala marrying dance and music is the culmination of a long and fruitful partnership with the Versailles Centre of Baroque Music and the French Institute of Prague.
With the Summer Festivities of Early Music, the capital of the Czech Republic confirms its reputation as a major cultural centre at the heart of Europe. Listen, watch, experience… and enjoy to your heart's content.
Summer Festivities of Early Music
From 11 July to 6 August 2019
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