OF THE LITHUANIAN NATIONAL OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE
Audronė Juozauskaitė, Head of the Artistic Operations Office
Virgilijus Noreika, vocal coach
Irena Milkevičiūtė, vocal coach
Valius Staknys, stage director
Jūratė Sodytė, choreographer and assistant to the director
Gediminas Šeduikis, assistant to the director
Sigitas Dirsė, stage manager
Laima Kvasaitė, stage manager
Giedrė Rubežienė, stage manager
Rūta Blaškytė, rehearsal pianist
Jolanta Silkauskienė, rehearsal pianist
Olga Taškinaitė, rehearsal pianist
Rita Brazaitienė, supervisor of the soloists
Raimonda Janutėnaitė, supervisor of the soloists
Liudmila Kopyrina, prompter
Opera arts in Lithuania were born in the beginning of the 17th century. 36 years have passed as opera genre was born in Florence, and on September 4, 1636 the first opening night of the opera "Il ratto di Helena" by playwright Virgilio Puccitelli and unknown composer was produced at the Vilnius Lower Castle. The merit of an early appearance of the opera in Lithuania first of all belongs to Wladislaw Vasa. The opera and ballet revived in the middle of the 18th century at the court theatres of the residences in the province of the nobles, the great officers of the state Radvilos, Oginskiai, Sapiegos and existed till the beginning of the 19th century. In 1785 public town theatres started their work in Vilnius and Klaipeda. From 1975 till the beginning of the 20th century, when Lithuania was occupied by Germany, Poland and Russia, national culture in the country was banned. Then, permanent Polish, German, Italian, Russian troupes were functioning. After the ban was lifted in 1904, the first Lithuanian opera "Birutė" by Mikas Petrauskas and Gabrielius Landsbergis Žemkalnis was produced in 1906.
In 1918 Lithuania gained its independence. However, the Polish have occupied the territory of Vilnius. Kaunas became a provisional capital and the place, where the most promising people of culture and science gathered. Therefore, in Kaunas in 1920 the theatre of opera and drama was founded. In 1925 it was joined by the ballet troupe. The theatre is the present Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
The first opening night, which was opera "La traviata" by Giuseppe Verdi, took place on December 31, 1920. Famous Lithuanian singers such as Kipras Petrauskas and Adelė Galaunienė took parts in this production under the baton of Juozas Tallat-Kelpša. Thus LNOBT became the biggest theatre in Lithuania fostering opera and ballet arts.
While reviewing the repertory of the theatre the proportional arrangement of different national schools is obvious. Though the biggest part of the repertory usually consists of the opuses by Italian and French romanticists and verists (Gioacchino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Charles Gounod), the theatre constantly introduces the audience to the operas by classical composers (Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Christoph Willibald von Gluck, Domenico Cimarosa). There have also been works by 20th century composers, such as Sergei Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges", Rodion Shchedrin's "Not for Love Alone", Carl Orff's "Die Kluge", more than 20 operas by Lithuanian composers, the most eminent of them Vytautas Klova's "Pilėnai", Vytautas Barkauskas' "The Legend of Love", Bronius Kutavičius' "The Bear".
Today the most remarkable productions in the repertory of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre include G. Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" (dir. Anthony Minghella), G. Verdi's "Otello" (dir. Eimuntas Nekrošius) and "Rigoletto" (dir. G. Varnas), W. A. Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro" (dir. E. Sagi), G. Bizet's "Carmen" (dir. Arnaud Bernard), a staging of J. S. Bach's "Johannespassion" (dir. R. Wilson), P. Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" and others.
At the present moment the opera company of the theatre consists of 31 soloists. The theatre often invites different soloist from abroad to perform parts in the productions of the theatre and also receives a lot of guest performers. Many opera soloists have worked on probation in different opera centers in Milan, Sofia and elsewhere. They also are laureates of international competitions, often invited to different world wide famous theatres.
The chorus of the theatre (Chief Chorus Master - Česlovas Radžiūnas) and the orchestra of the theatre (Music Director - Robertas Šervenikas) also take part in opera performances.
During the season (September - June) the opera company performs approximately 20 productions and premieres 2 performances at the average. About 10 operas are performed per month.
"The mastery of Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre is hundred-percent", "the orchestra, the chorus, as well as the majority of the soloists are of international standards, equaling to the companies of Sydney or Vienna State Opera Theatres", "the best guest performance in Taiwan this year" - this was the way the Taiwanese press estimated guest performance of the LNOBT in Taiwan in the summer of 2000.