Kaunas State Musical Theatre was founded as an Operetta Theatre in 1940. Its first night (a soviet operetta) took place on May 1, 1941. Duting the war some classical operettas dominated in the repertoire; even during the post-war period operettas and musicals by modern composers were staged. When Opera and Ballet Theatre moved to Vilnius in 1948, the theatre began producing works for these genres. The first ballet was staged in 1948, but the small company had and still has few premiere performances. Traditional opera became a part of the repertoire since 1951; some B.Britten’s works were produced for the first time in Lithuania. Liudas Truikys (1904-1987) created stage design for 4 opera productions. In cooperation with the Lithuanian Opera of Chicago „Jurate ir Kastytis” by K.V.Banaitis and „Martha” by F.von Flotow were produced. Gintas Zilys has been the head of the theatre since 1992. The theatre palace on the central street of Kaunas was built in 1892. The original neo-renaissance building has been altered by several exterior and interior since reconstructions. The interior of the auditorium, designed by famous Lithuanian architect V. Dubeneckis in 1925, is of special value. It combines two tendencies in the art of the period; the Lithuanian pattern of tulips and lilies and European Art Deco, which was popular at the time. The auditorium seats up to 500 spectators.
Lithuanian professional drama (1920), opera (1920) and ballet (1925) companies started in the present Theatre Palace. More than 80 performances were staged up to the Second World War. When the Opera Theatre moved to Vilnius, the capital, in 1948, the Theatre Palace housed the Kaunas State Music Theatre, which had started operating on 27th November 1940. The latter company has been the only one in Lithuania producing operetta and showing the best works of the genre to its audience since the Soviet period. But when the Opera Theatre moved to Vilnius and left Kaunas, which used to be the cradle of professional Lithuanian opera without any opera, Kaunas Music Theatre sought to enrich its repertoire with this most important genre of the music stage. Today Kaunas Music Theatre is the second largest theatre in Lithuania. Its repertoire includes all musical stage genres. Local people and visitors can see the most popular operas by Mozart, Gounod, Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and von Flotow, operettas by J. Strauss, Lehar, Offenbach, Kalman, Abraham, and musicals by Loewe, Leigh and Bernstein. The theatre also arranges concerts. The company is proud of its soloists, who have won international vocal competitions. The company stages more than 200 performances and 3-4 premieres annually, shown from September to June. Kaunas Musical Theatre co-operates successfully with foreign artists. The theatre repertoire has benefited from the works of a number of German, Austrian, and Hungarian stage masters. In recent years, Kaunas State Music Theatre has enjoyed the attention of an appreciative public.
KAUNAS ACADEMIC DRAMA THEATRE
The first premiere of the Kaunas State academic drama Theatre – H. Sudermann’s “St. John’s Day” directed by Juozas Vaickus – appeared on December 19, 1920. The repertoire increased very quickly. A great many dramas of the world repertoire, as well as plays by Lithuanian authors were produced (Borisas Dauguvietis alone directed 35 works by Lithuanian dramatists). The theatre slowed down during the war years and later experienced all the peculiarities of Soviet control. In 1959, the Young Spectator’s Theatre was joined to it. In 1954-1966, Henrikas Vancevicius was the particularly distinctive personalities emerged. Innovative concepts in direction by Jonas Jurasas spread at times slightly masked spirit of resistence. The talent of Jonas Vaitkus unfolded in direction of dramas of various epochs and styles. Since 1993 Gytis Padegimas headed the theatre. Performances take place on yhe main stage and at 6 other venues. The theatre has the Higher School of Acting. The main hall of the theatre has 590 seats.
There are 4 small stages with 40, 90 and 200 seats.
KAUNAS PUPPET THEATRE
Actors Valerija and Stasys Ratkeviciai in 1958 founded Kaunas Puppet Theatre in Marijampole.The troupe established itself in Kaunas in 1960. Stasys Ratkevicius directed nearly half of the productions, and remained company’s head until 1990. Original troupe members Regina Ceponiene, Ada Ignataviciene, Ramute Kabelkaite, Ona Stankeviciene, and Algimantas Stankevicius work as actors with this theatre up to the present. A. Stankevicius who began directing in 1962 is the company’s head. In 1969 the theatre joined UNIMA. In 1989, the company organized a large Baltic countries puppet theatre festival. Each May it presents a festival entitled “Smiling Puppets and Children” consisting of performances and a puppet and mask parade in the city. It performs Christmas plays as well. There is a wonderful charity program called “Smiles on the Hospital Ward” which brings plays to children in hospitals and sanatoria. The theatre has taken part in festivals in Italy and Denmark; it won the best puppet production award at the “Theatre for Children” festival in Vilnius (1997). Established in 1958, the theatre has 264 seats. There are 14 actors and 1 producer, total staff being 44 persons. They stage 4-5 performances a year; the overall number of performances exceeds 100. Traditional annual International Puppet Days have been organized since 1989.
KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS (THE ODD MEN THEATRE) is professional private theatre acting for children and adults. The theatre was founded in 1989 by a group of young actors graduated from the Lithuanian State Music Academy.
The creative group of KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS works out original scenarios on the base of various fairy-tales and literary works. The aim of KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS is a personal contact by theatrical means with the audience. Direct contact, warm atmosphere, cheerful mood, easy to remember tunes and songs – all these are distinctive features of our theatre.
From the first years of existence KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS became the most popular theatre for children in Lithuania. But “the odd men” turn upside down the world of adults, too. In the concert playbills they wash away sadness and worry with tears of joy and gladness. In performances and video clips actors clarify the noble and meaningful world of adults by the tunes of subtle humor and auto irony. “The odd men” violate the classical canons of music, literature, theater and cinema genres.
KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS has staged 12 original performances, 4 video films for children and 3 video films for adults, a great deal of video clips and TV cassettes on Lithuanian TV. The films, created by the theatre in 1990 – 91 are acknowledged as the best works of the year on Lithuanian TV. During a year the theatre shows 150 – 200 performances for children and adults and visits about 50 Lithuanian and foreign town on tours.
The base of KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS is an amphithearical auditorium (containing 480 seats) in Vilnius, not far from the center of the city in a convenient place. There are 18 actors, director, 2 coordinators, 3 stage technicians and 4 creating assistants at the theatre.
KEISTUOLIŲ TEATRAS would gladly present itself in your country. The theatre is interested in the exchange of programmes.