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Klaipeda Music Theatre
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The music of the Klaipeda District has been a vital part of the culture of Lithuania Minor. It was Lithuania Minor where the first Lithuanian book (1547), the first hymnbooks (1566-70) and the first book of songs (1825) were published.|
At the end of the 19th century, as a result of the nationalist movement, Lithuanian Societies were founded and choirs organised, but only in 1924, when the Klaipeda District was annexed to Lithuania Proper did conditions become favorable for the creation of a professional Lithuanian art of music.
In 1923 a Lithuanian composer, S. Simkus, founded a conservatoire in Klaipeda. In 1924 he organized his students into a symphony orchestra which gave its first concert in 1925. In 1928 the staff and students of the conservatoire staged the first Lithuanian opera, Birute by M. Petrauskas. Six months later there was a new premiére, this time Faust by Gounod.
A new period in the history of Klaipeda opera started when the Lithuanian composer J. Kacinskas came to town. In 1934 he staged La Traviata by Verdi and a year later Gounod's Faust. In 1945-49 there was a musical comedy theatre in Klaipeda which staged eight new plays during that period.
From 1956 until 1986 there was the Folk Opera House which staged 12 productions. This Folk Opera was the origin of the present Music Theatre which was founded on January 1st, 1987.
Since then the Klaipeda Musical Theatre has become a very important centre of the city's musical life. The chronicle of the theatre lists over 30 operas by many composers, such as L'Italiana in Algeri by Rossini, La Traviata by Verdi, Evgenij Onegin by Tchaikovsky, Suor Angelica by Puccini, Carmina Burana by Orff, etc., and musicals as well as more than 20 concert programs. Classical music, ballets and plays for children have also been staged here. Many outstanding Lithuanian artists have been involved in this work. The conductors G. Rinkevicius, the stage managers G. Zilys and E. Domarkas and the ballet masters J. Smoriginas and L. Dautartaite should be mentioned here. The conductors D. Anzolini (Italy), E. Kivilo (Estonia), I. Resnis (Latvia) and some other famous artist from other countries have worked at the Klaipeda Musical Theatre. Leading Lithuanian opera singers such as V. Noreika and V. Prudnikov are always willing to work with this theatre. The artistic staff stage theatricalized concerts and participate in all the city's events.
The theatre company quite often goes on tours and its performances are known to the citizens of many towns and cities in Lithuania, Latvia and Italy. A great part of the repertoire of the theatre has been recorded by Lithuanian TV and Radio.
At present the theatre is housed in the former Palace of Culture, built in 1959. After renovation the hall can accommodate an audience of 500.
The theatre employs 240 people, 150 of them artistic staff. There are over 20 soloists, among them the leading singers V. Balsyte, M. Gylys, N. Grigalaviciute, S. Juskevicius, 40 choir singers, (the chief choirmaster is V. Konstantinov), 20 ballet dancers and 60 musicians in the orchestra.
In 1993, on the basis of the theatre orchestra, the chief conductor S. Domarkas founded the Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania Minor. The orchestra can boast of having among its members the Brass Quintet, the winner of international competitions (directed by V. Bruzas). The orchestra's repertoire includes compositions of various periods and styles, i.e., classical, romantic and modern music written by Lithuanian and foreign composers. The orchestra takes part in the concerts of the Music Spring and the contemporary music festival The Sea Claviers. It has commissioned a large number of symphonic compositions by Klaipeda composers. The orchestra gives concerts not only in Lithuania, but in other countries, too. It has been on tours to Russia, Latvia, Holland and Italy. The leading Lithuanian performers enjoy giving concerts with the orchestra.
The Musical Theatre is financed by the state. At the same time, various enterprises and companies help to support it. The greatest contributions have been made by Klaipeda Transport Fleet, Lithuanian Sea Shipment (LISCO); Klaipeda Stevedoring Company (KLASCO), the State Seaport Authority, Klaipeda Oil, the Oil Terminal, the Western Lithuanian Corporation of Industry and Finance and enterprises in Kaunas, Telsiai and Pluinge.
The chief conductor since 1993 and manager of the theatre since 1995 has been Stasys Domarkas, who has great experience of work in various musical companies.
Klaipeda Music Theatre
(From left) S. Juskevicius, N. Grigalaviciute, V. Balsyte, M. Gylys and the Manager and Chief Conductor, Stasys Domarkas (sitting).
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