Venice Biennale Winning Opera-Performance Sun & Sea Comes Back to City of Its Birth—Vilnius

Sun & Sea opera-performance— a winner of the 58th Venice Biennale and the Golden Lion Award—returned to perform in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, this week. 25 tons of sand were brought in the former taxi park to create the beach and implement the vision of globally-performing artists.

An award-winning Lithuanian opera-performance Sun & Sea, which presented a unique spin on the concerns for the climate crisis, returned back to its origins—Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The Lithuanian pavilion received global recognition at the 58th Venice Art Biennale in 2019 and was awarded the Golden Lion for the best national participation.

The art piece was first introduced in a Lithuanian festival SIRENOS at the National Gallery of Art in 2017. Now, a couple of years after its famous reception in Venice, it returned with a Lithuanian performance in its hometown Vilnius.

“This is not only the return to the origins of the art piece—Vilnius, where we met the key singers of the Sun & Sea. It is also the return to the Lithuanian language. We are even more nervous now than at the Venice Biennale,” said Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, authors of the opera-performance. “Performing in the hometown of the art piece is both an immense joy and a huge responsibility, which is amplified by the expectations created by the Golden Lion Award.”

The opera-performance is held in a former taxi park T Park, well-known among the locals for its unique architecture. Built in the 70s and recently renovated, the building, towering at over 31 meters, has eight cascading floors that allow the authors to fully implement all the visual and sound elements of the event.

The opera-performance managed to captivate over 85K spectators over the span of six months in Venice and thousands of visitors in a subsequent world tour. It shows the singers as care-free holidaymakers on a sunlit beach, whose casual conversation about day-to-day dealings transforms into a discussion of the climate crisis, the environment, and the future of the planet. The public, standing above, is given the unobstructed view of globally-performing artists and choirs.

Vilnius city municipality has been actively supporting the opera-performance both financially and in other ways. The capital also commissioned 25 tons of real beach sand to be brought in  by a municipality company, which also contributed to an Open Beach project in 2020—an artificial beach in the city center, designed to cheer up the citizens during the travel bans. The beach was complete with white sand, loungers, changing booths, and even a large screen showing the sea waves. The company also implements the city’s road and lake beach maintenance. 

“We are very proud of and excited by this very significant and highly awaited event by the opera’s authors and the city of Vilnius. We hope the performance inspires everyone to experiment, discover, and create art, which would spread the word about the capital and Lithuania worldwide,” said Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius. “Vilnius is that place where unique and wondrous creations come into existence, therefore, we need to make sure they are seen and heard both inside and outside Lithuania.”