The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre is a national budgetary institution committed to organising the creation and production of scenic works for musical theatre and assuring their public performance on the highest artistic level. The theatre operates as an institution founded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
The theatre aims to
* nurture, initiate and cultivate traditions of national musical theatre; develop traditions of contemporary musical theatre and present them to the wide community; seek for the artistic embodiment of values treasured in the world's musical culture;
* capacitate young talented and recognised artists and performers, both from Lithuania and abroad, to participate in the theatre's activities;
* shape the image of country's artistic culture by presenting the accomplishments of national musical culture abroad;
* cultivate, instigate and satisfy the need for professional scenic art in the wide society.
Opera in Lithuania goes back to the early 17th century. In 36 years after the genre had originated in Florence, an opera, Il ratto di Helena, written by an anonymous composer and set to a libretto by the then famous Italian librettist and musician, Virgilio Puccitelli, was first performed in Lithuania on 4 September 1636, at the court theatre of the grand duke in the Lower Castle in Vilnius.
From the second half of the 18th century to the early 19th century music and the arts, including opera and ballet, were taken under the patronage of influential noblemen from the stocks of Oginskis, Radvila, Tyzenhauzas, and others, who also held companies in their country mansions and city residencies.
In 1785 first public city theatres were opened in Vilnius and Klaipeda. From 1795 to the early 20th century Lithuania was under the domination of foreign powers - first, Poland and Germany, then Russia - which led to severe oppression of Lithuanian national culture. At that time Lithuanian theatres were run by Polish, German, Italian and Russian companies.
After the ban on Lithuanian press was lifted in 1904, the first Lithuanian opera Birute, co-authored by composer Mikas Petrauskas and playwright Gabrielius Lansbergis-Zemkalnis, was staged in Vilnius in 1906.
In 1918 Lithuania was proclaimed an independent state. However, Vilnius and its surrounding region were soon annexed to Poland. Thus Kaunas became Lithuania's provisional capital where the foremost energies of Lithuanian art, culture and sciences were consolidated for more than two decades. It was in Kaunas where the nation's first musical theatre - the Opera and Drama Playhouse - opened in 1920. With the addition of a resident ballet company in 1925, this theatre formed the basis for an institution presently known as the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre - an all-time largest and most influential establishment promoting opera and ballet in Lithuania.
To legitimate its national status, the LNOBT has always had national productions on its repertoire (over 20 in total). Among the most outstanding ones are Vytautas Klova's opera Pilenai (1956), Julius Juzeliunas' ballet On the Seashore (1953) and opera Insurgents (1957), Eduardas Balsys' ballet Egle, Queen of Grass-snakes (1960) and opera Journey to Tilsit (1980), Vytautas Barkauskas' opera The Legend about Love (1975), Antanas Rekasius' ballets (The Fading Cross, 1963; Passions, 1968; Alive Forever, 1982, Medea, 1996), Mindaugas Urbaitis' ballet Acid City (2002), and Bronius Kutavicius' recent stageworks, opera The Bear (2000) and stage diptych Ignis et fides (2003).
During the season (September-June) the opera company is usually engaged in around 15 current and 4 new opera productions. The average number of operas on repertoire per month is 10. The LNOBT's ballet company has roughly the same number of ballet productions, and usually presents 2 new ones every season. The average number of ballets on current repertoire per month is 15.
Address: A. Vienuolio g. 1, 01104 Vilnius