Osvaldas Grinius, 2008 04 11


Photos from the archive of KSMT

Photo by L.Brundza

In brief: A festival is taking place at Kaunas State Musical Theatre again. The culprit of it is the premiere of the operetta of Franz Lehar “The Merry Widow” staged at the theatre for the sixth time already. The variant of the work directed by Valius Staknys in 1988 may be still remembered by people who have seen it. Therefore, a rather big number of the audience, which sat in the theatre hall on the first weekend of April, compared the new staging with impressions experienced two decades ago.


Both variants of stagings are related with the unchanged plot of the operetta and the old translation of the libretto adapted for the new staging. The director Gintas Žilys did not leave any more chances for nostalgia. He is loyal to his creative style – logic development of action, gradual revealing of characters, using elements of characteristic acting and original stage geography, certain symbolic details. The rather dynamic action does not let the spectator be bored during the solo or lyrical scenes.


The scenography is symbolic and stylised. After the lifting of the curtain, no doubts remain – it is the work of the artist Virginija Idzelytė. Laconic stage not overloaded by detail is divided into two parts by the stairs in the background, and the dark colours of expressive tones function like a visit card of the artist.


The orchestra prepared by the conductor Julius Geniušas played in a stylish and expressive manner, it accompanied the action taking place on the stage well. True, some small faults were not avoided (especially, during the second premiere) but they did not have any greater influence on the general atmosphere of the performance.


The group of men’s choir pleased the audience by the lush and smooth colour of the sound in the first act. The entire choir of the theatre performed beautifully, and, as usual in performances of such genre, it also had to sing and dance according to schemes planned by the choreographer Danilas Salimbaevas. The audience estimated the work of ballet artists favourably as well.


The members of the performance soloists’ troupe presented several surprises: in addition to interesting turns of artistic role specialisation, the audience saw new performers whose names had not been heard to them. One of the most outstanding was Egidijus Bavikinas, who created the role of viscount Kaskada. The characteristic timber of sonorous voice, free and expressive acting could not remain unnoticed.


The theatre may also rejoice for having the talented singer Raminta Vaicekauskaitė in its troupe. The main role of Hanna Glawari created by her in “The Merry Widow” is one more undoubted success in the road of winnings of the young actress. Her heroine is vital, playful and full of joy of life, natural emotions. Nomeda Vilkanauskaitė, who sang on the second night, deserves equal praising.


In conclusion, the performance left an impression of a strongly built and professional work. After watching it, one may only agree that Kaunas may be called the capital of Lithuanian operetta rightly. Only one unanswered question remained. It seems that the director and the painter have created a contradicting concept of the performance willing to intrigue the audience. The direction is clearly focused on the first part of the title of the operetta, and the colour scheme of the scenography – on the second. Thus, who is she, “The Merry Widow”: more “merry” or more “widow”?

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