Lithuanian Theater of Opera and Ballet

Lithuanian Theater of Opera and Ballet

 

(full name, Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of the Lithuanian SSR), the foremost Lithuanian musical theater. Founded in Kaunas in 1920. In 1925 the theater was merged with a dramatic group, a ballet troupe was created, and the combined group came to be called the State Theater. In 1944 it was separated from the drama company and acquired its present name. In 1948 the theater moved to Vilnius.

In the 1930’s the Lithuanian Theater of Opera and Ballet was the first theater to stage Lithuanian national operas, such as Gražina (1933) and Radvila Perkūnas (1937) by Karnavičius, Three Talismans (1936) by Račiū nas, and Eglė, Queen of the Grass Snakes (1939) by Petrauskas and Dambrauskas (1939), and ballets, such as Jūratė and Kastytis by Gruodis, Matchmaking by Dvarionas, and In the Whirlwind of the Dance by Bacevičius (all 1933). In 1940 the theater presented the first Soviet opera in Lithuania (And Quiet Flows the Don by Dzerzhinskii), as well as the Soviet ballet The Red Poppy by Glière. The first Soviet Lithuanian opera (Marytė by Račiū nas) and the first Lithuanian ballet on a contemporary topic (On the Seashore by Juzeliū nas) were staged in 1953. The theater’s repertoire included world classics, as well as the works of Lithuanian and other Soviet composers. Among the best productions of the 1950’s and 1960’s were the operas Pilėnai by Klova (1956), The Stray Birds by Lauruŝ as (1967), and At the Crossroads by Paltanavičius (1967) and the ballets Audronė by Indra (1957 and 1969), Eglė, Queen of the Grass Snakes by Balsys (1960), and The Failing Cross (1966) and Passions (1971) by Rekaŝius.

Among the artists who have worked at the Lithuanian Theater of Opera and Ballet are the singers J. Mažeika, K. Petrauskas, A. Sodeika, A. Staŝkevičiutė, and E. Chudakova; the ballet soloists B. Kelbauskas, M. Juozapaitytė, and G. Sabaliauskaitė; the conductors M. Bukŝa, J. Pakalnis, and J. Talat-Kelpŝa; the directors V. Grybauskas, J. Gustaitė, P. Oleka, and T. Pavlovskii; and the choreographers P. Petrov, V. Grivickas, and B. Kelbauskas. Members of the troupe (1973) included People’s Artists of the USSR J. Stasiunas and V. Noreika and People’s Artists of the Lithuanian SSR E. Saulevičiutė, R. Siparis, and K. Ŝilgalis (singers); Honored Artist of the Lithuanian SSR L. Aŝkelovičiūtė and Honored Artist of the Lithuanian SSR and the RSFSR č . žebrauskas (ballet soloists); People’s Artist of the Lithuanian SSR R. Geniūsas (principal conductor); People’s Artist of the Lithuanian SSR V. Grivickas (principal director); E. Bukaitis (acting principal choreographer); Honored Art Worker of the Lithuanian SSR A. Krogertas (principal choir director); and People’s Artist of the Lithuanian SSR J. Jankus (principal artist). In 1954 the theater was awarded the title “Academic.” It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1971.

REFERENCES

Gaudrimas, J. Muzykal’naia kul’tura Sovetskoi Litvy. Leningrad, 1961. Maž eika, V. Opera. Vilnius, 1967.

J. GAUDRIMAS

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