opera day on the beach evokes a climate crisis | WGN 720 radio


New York (AP) – How do I make my Brooklyn show space a day on the beach?

Answer: 21 tons of New Jersey sand are packed in a 50 lb bag, trucked in and dumped on the ground. There are 840 in total.

In this way, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s production team set the stage for the award-winning opera “Sun and Sea,” which premieres in the United States this month.

Created by three Lithuanian artists, the hour-long opera features 13 singers sitting and lying on beach blankets under the scorching sun. They portray the characters identified in the script (sung here in English) with common titles such as Wealthy Moms and Holic Workers. Non-singing extras fill the stage, build sandcastles, play cards, walk dogs, or just walk.

“It started with the image of the beach from above, and people gathered there,” said Rugili Balzjikaite, who spoke from Lithuania via Zoom. “You can see that they are very fragile because they are half naked… they are very fragile, like the cosmic bodies of the Earth. And the beaches are getting warmer year after year. Together. It’s like that. “

When they chose global warming as their theme, the question was how to explore it through characters barely aware of the problem.

“Climate change is a very large and anonymous topic, so I was wondering how I could write about it,” screenwriter Viva Greinite said. “Therefore, for these characters and singers, it’s like a cloud of thoughts, an inner monologue about something very mediocre and simple.”

But ugly allusions to impending ruin creep in.

Example cited by Grainyté: A woman complains about a messy dog ​​on the beach, but also talks about how she found three edible mushrooms out of season in December. “This little paradox kind of gives us a hint of obstacles in nature. The emotions of tragedy and apocalypse are very present, but they are subtle and not direct.

“There is no such thing as ‘what the hell the world is about to end’,” she added.

Lina Laperite, who composed the music, said:

“So the music is also very light,” she said. “It’s not heavy and it’s quite poppy. Sometimes it might remind you of a pop song you know, but it’s not really one of the songs you know. The accompaniment is a recorded phonetics. Provided by the character synthesizer.

The opera premiered in Lithuania in 2017, was invited to the Venice Biennale in 2019, won the Golden Lion and gave the country’s best presentation.

“Environmental messages are rarely communicated in a subtle, humorous and clear way in works of art,” praised critic Igor Toronyi-lalic in British magazine The Spectator.

Similar to Venice, the BAM production in an intimate fishman space will feature spectators (limited to 100 at a time) overlooking the beach from balconies that surround the stage on all sides. The cast rehearse the show five times a day, and the audience is free to come and go.

“A lot of future audiences are already familiar with the subject,” Laperite said. “What people want to get rid of is the feeling of oneness that we are all together in this area.”

Following the Brooklyn run, the show will move to Philadelphia, Bentonville, Arkansas and Los Angeles from September 15-26.

The singers move according to the production, but each room has its own sand. BAM acquired 21 tonnes from the southern Jersey community, where erosion has pushed the beach five miles inland. This is enough to cover a 57 x 46 foot scene with about 2 inches. Once the race is over, the sand is sucked up and removed by a company who recycles it to construction sites and other uses.

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