Lithuanian Contemporary Opera Wins Venice Biennale’s 2019 Golden Lion

By Polina Lyapustina

”Sun & Sea (Marina),” a new opera-performance by director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, writer Vaiva Grainytė, and composer Lina Lapelytė, took the main award of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia — Golden Lion for Best National Participation.

The Lithuanian Pavilion in the historic quayside building within the Marina Militare complex has been transformed into an artificially-lit beach scene, where holidaymakers give a contemporary opera performance about climate change and the end of the world through very minor personal stories.

From a balcony on the second floor, visitors look down to the beach, where performers, from kids to old men, are sunbathing, playing, reading or scrolling through their iPhones. One by one, they sing about their world very similar to our own, full of minor problems and hostile circumstances. The performance seems very relaxed, chill, and even lazy, and doesn’t mean to lead to the end (of the world), but it actually does.

“An ecological play at its very core, ‘Sun & Sea (Marina)’ concerns itself with the way in which we—our human species—consistently fails to recognise those planetary-scale threats and urgencies we ourselves are the cumulative cause of,” the creators commented on their work.

This is the second opera-performance by the award-winning trio, after the highly acclaimed, internationally touring opera, “Have a Good Day!”