The 50th International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl concluded on Saturday with a Solo for Ladies. The concert featured singers Eleonore Marguerre, Arpiné Rahdjian and Zoryana Kushpler performing famous opera arias and duets. The three-week opera festival, held in the birthplace of the famous 19th century Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, has seen one of the most successful years in its history, having sold more than 20,000 tickets.
Former Czech President Václav Havel said that the Czech Republic should
press on with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Havel told
Financial Times on Friday that the treaty should be kept alive in spite of
its rejection in the Irish vote. Once the treaty is ratified, the EU should
consider creating “a beautiful, simple constitution that children could
learn about at school”.
The Czech Republic has not yet started the ratification process of the document; the country’s Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the treaty to see whether it is in line with the Czech law.
Around 4,000 people watched the re-enactment of an 1866 battle between Austrians and Prussians in Chlum, eastern Bohemia, on Saturday. More than 400 enthusiasts, with 30 horses and 20 cannons, took part in the re-enactment. The original Battle of Chlum occurred on July 3, 1866 between the armies of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, as part of the Austro-Prussian War.
Czech reserve troops returned from a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo on Friday. 116 Czech reserve troops were deployed in Kosovo at the beginning of March after the former Serbian province declared independence. During their mission, the soldiers helped the multi-national KFOR forces maintain order in the northern regions of Kosovo. The troops will be on alert until the end of July but do not expect to be called back. The regular Czech KFOR contingent remains in Kosovo.
Some 30,000 Czechs commemorated on Saturday the 1145th anniversary of the
arrival of the Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius. A public holiday
in the Czech Republic, the anniversary was marked by the annual national
pilgrimage to Velehrad, one of Moravia’s most important Catholic centres
where Roman Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, together with Bohemian and Moravian
bishops, celebrated a festive holly mass to mark the event.
The brothers Cyril and Methodius, originally from Thessaloniki, arrived in Moravia in 863 to spread the gospel in a Slavic language; for that they also designed a script known as the Cyrillic alphabet.
The governor of the Central Bohemia Region Pavel Bendl, along with several mayors of the region, are set to appear in a musical based on the novel “Postřižiny” by the late Bohumil Hrabal. The musical will only be staged in three venues in Central Bohemia during the summer. The novel, known in English as “Cutting it Short”, was first published illegally in 1974.
Bathory by Juraj Jakubisko, the most expensive central European film ever made, premiered at the 43rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. The movie stars English actress Anna Friel in the role of the 17th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, famous for alleged serial murders. The film, co-produced by Czech companies, cost around 320 million crowns, or more than 21 million U.S. dollars. At the premiere, the Prague-based Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko was also awarded a Crystal Glove for his contribution to filmmaking.
Libor Kozák, a 19-year-old footballer from Opava, in Silesia, signed a five-year contract on Saturday with Lazio Roma, one of the best clubs of the first Italian division. The Rome-based club will pay 1.2 million euros for the Czech forward. Libor Kozák scored 11 goals for the second-division team of Opava; he is also on the under-19 Czech national football team.
A new poll released by the CVVM agency has suggested that most Czechs are not interested in the Czech Republic's upcoming EU presidency. The Czech Republic will assume the six-month presidency, currently presided by France, on January 1, 2009 but three quarters of those queried showed little interest in the issue: just 22 percent seemingly regarded it as important. Most did agree they had scant information on the issue, with only 15 percent answering that current information levels were enough.
Negotiations between the US and the Czech Republic on the SOFA treaty, linked to the planned deployment of a US radar base on Czech soil, have not yet resolved, meaning that the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will sign only the main radar treaty during her visit to Prague next week. The main treaty, agreed some time ago, will enable the radar installation, while the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) deals with US soldiers' status on Czech territory. The taxation of US staff at the radar site is the one remaining issue in the SOFA agreement that remains unresolved. According to Czech sources, US negotiators are trying to see that as few staff as possible will come under Czech tax legislation.
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