Post Futurum at Lithuanian National Opera6:11, 17th April 2018
Gintaras Sodeika’s innovative new opera delights in the surreal, painting an unconventional picture of Lithuania’s history through opposing forces of Good and Evil, drawing together some highly original musical and dramatic ideas
Post Futurum was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of Lithuanian independence, so as we might expect, the narrative centres on freedom. This is reflected in all aspects of the opera, from the free-form structures of the music – pleasingly described by composer Gintaras Sodeika as ‘academic techno’ – to the progressive production (potentially blasphemous in this Catholic state).
Lithuanian history is depicted through the eyes of God and Satan, in a witty libretto by Sigitas Parulskis that is highly reminiscent of Terry Pratchett. Act I opens with God (bass Egidijus Dauskurdis) on a bike-machine as he surveys the universe: planets, stars, satellites – and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. Satan appears with a Ouija board that spells out ‘Lithuania’; God can’t remember such a country – cue scenes from the middle ages to the early 20th century outlining the formation of the microstate.
Satan takes various forms throughout – as the supreme commander of the Eastern front and as Lenin. Tenor Rafailas Karpis beguiles in this role, tackling the challenging vocal lines with appropriate manic energy. There is a smattering of deliciously ‘meta’ moments, for example when Satan offers to explain everything to God via opera, Dauskurdis deadpans, ‘I cannot stand opera’. Despite the humour, or perhaps because of it, the drama and tragedy of Lithuania’s past is portrayed with powerful force in Oskaras Koršunovas’s production: mournful duets between Dr Basanavicius (Dainius Stumbras) and Gabriela Eleonora (Joana Gedmintaite) provide effective personification.
In celebrating Lithuania’s centenary at the opera, a mainstream retrospective work might have been easier – and perhaps more wide-reaching (it’s difficult to imagine how this production might fare outside Lithuania); but in creating this original, quirky opera (props here to designer Gintaras Makarevičius and video designer Eugenijus Sabaliauskas), the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre has kept its gaze on the next hundred years of free thinking.