You can download the libretto pdf at the bottom of this page
The Lithuanian performance Sun and Sea, by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, is an opera set on the beach, in the sand, where people, who we would typically meet in such a public space (from middle-aged couples with children, to old people, to children and young people), through singing about seemingly insignificant and everyday things, actually treat the problem of the climate crisis and ecological disasters in flourishing capitalism. Awarded the Golden Lion at the 58th Venice Biennale, the opera-performance Sun and Sea reminds us with the subtlety of the libretto of the petty-bourgeois apathy typical of those who have the privilege of vacationing.
About the Performance
Using several tons of sand to transform each venue into a lively beach, sunbathing characters offer up a range of seductive harmonies and melodic stories that glide between the mundane, the sinister, and the surreal. From the sprawling narrative of their lives emerges a piercing exploration of climate change, shedding light on the complex relationship between people and our planet. The piece is brought to life by 13 vocalists who are surrounded by local community members.
With a bird’s-eye view of the performance from a mezzanine gallery above the stage, audiences look down on the assembled characters who appear as a typical group of vacationers of varying ages, from different walks of life, attired in colourful bathing suits. Surveying this fleshy tableau vivant from their sun-like vantage point, audiences observe the frailty of the human condition.
The world premiere of the opera-performance took place at the 58th Contemporary Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, where it was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
Sun & Sea has been presented in such festivals and institutions as BAM Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York), the Hammer Museum, MOCA, and CAP UCLA (Los Angeles), Teatro Argentina (Rome), E-Werk (Luckenwalde), LIFT, Serpentine and We Are Lewisham (London), Helsinki Festival (Helsinki), Sydney Festival, and Santiago a Mil International Festival (Santiago de Chile).
RUGILĖ BARZDŽIUKAITĖ (b. 1983, based in Vilnius) works as a filmmaker, theatre director and visual artist. In her creative practice, Barzdžiukaitė explores the gap between objective and imagined realities, while challenging an anthropocentric way of thinking in a playful way. Her recent full-length documentary film-essay Acid Forest was awarded at the Locarno International Film Festival among others, was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Lincoln Center in NYC, American Film Institute festival in LA and many other events and venues for cinema and contemporary art. Sun & Sea is her latest collaboration in the medium of performance.
VAIVA GRAINYTĖ‘s (b. 1984, based in Lithuania) text-based practice shifts between genres, interdisciplinary theatre works and publications. As a writer, playwright, and poet she takes action as an observant anthropologist: challenged by Grainyte's poetic interpretation, mundane social issues take on a paradoxical and defamiliarized nature. Her book of essays Beijing Diaries (2012) and the poetry collection Gorilla’s Archives (2019) were nominated for the Book of the Year awards, and included in the top twelve listings of the most creative books in Lithuania. Her oeuvre has been translated into over 10 languages. Her bilingual, cross-genre novel, Roses and Potatoes (2022), playfully and phantasmagorically deconstructs the stereotypical concept of happiness embedded in contemporary culture.
LINA LAPELYTĖ’s (b.1984 in Lithuania) performance-based practice is rooted in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes and nostalgia. Her works engage trained and untrained performers often in an act of singing that takes the form of a collective and affective event questioning vulnerability and silencing. She had solo shows at FRAC, Nantes; Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Rupert, Vilnius. Her works have been exhibited or performed at the 13th Kaunas biennial, Haus der Kunst, Munich; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; Tai Kwun, HK; Glasgow International; Riga Biennial - RIBOCA2; Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale; Cartier Foundation, Paris; CCA Ujazdowski, Warsaw; Baltic Triennial 13, Tallinn; Moderna Museet, Malmö; FIAC, Paris; Hayward touring show, UK; Serpentine, London.
LUCIA PIETROIUSTI is Head of Ecologies at Serpentine, London. As a curator, Pietroiusti works at the intersection of art, ecology and systems, often outside of the exhibition space. She was the founder of Serpentine’s General Ecology project (2018-ongoing) and the curator of Sun & Sea (Lithuanian Pavilion, 2019 Venice Biennale and 2019-2024 tour), 8th Biennale Gherdeïna (with Filipa Ramos), Back to Earth (Serpentine, 2020-ongoing) and The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (also with Filipa Ramos). Recent publications include More-than-Human (with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier) and Microhabitable (with Fernando García-Dory).
From the Reviews
“Rarely has an environmental message been so subtly, humorously, tellingly conveyed in an artwork.”
Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Spectator
“Sun & Sea remains one of the greatest achievements in performance of the last 10 years: wry, seductive and cunning in ways that reveal themselves days or years later. This is a performance that makes the extinction of the species feel as agreeable as a perfect pop song, and as unforgettable, too.”
Jason Farago, The New York Times
“A lament to the eclipse of the world…”
Searle Adrian, The Guardian