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A near-future, climate-change opera kicks off BAM's fall season

Sun & Sea, an acclaimed Lithuanian opera, arrives in America.

Written by
André Wheeler

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is bringing a piece of Lithuania to Fort Greene this fall. The performing arts venue will be hosting the climate change-focused opera Sun & Sea, a daring, experimental work that depicts a large cast of characters enjoying a beach day as large-scale climate crises rage on.

The timely opera was originally written and performed in Lithuanian and shown at the revered arts extravaganza Venice Biennale, where it won a prestigious Golden Lion award in 2019 and was called a “a critique of leisure and of our times” by the biennale’s jury. Sun & Sea is an incredibly visually minded piece of work. The set’s large-scale beach recreation features over 25 tons of sand. And everyone has a bird’s eye view of the spectacle. Audience members stand in the mezzanine section of BAM and peer down at the action, adding a voyeuristic feel to the experience. 

Describing what happens in Sun & Sea is difficult, because so much of the play rests on reading in-between the lines. As the New York Times wrote of the highly contemplative piece, “it manages to animate a panoramic cast of characters whose stories coalesce into a portrait of an apocalyptic climate crisis that goes down as easily as a trip to the beach.” The creative product of director Rugile Barzdziukaite, writer Vaiva Grainyte and artist and composer Lina Lapelyte, Sun & Sea seemingly strives to depict just how ordinary and banal our responses and interpretations of seismic climate change events are likely to be. The play may feel more contemporary than near-future during a summer where smog from California wildfires drift over New York’s skies and the Pacific Northwest recently experienced a historic heatwave of desert-like temperatures. 

Sun & Sea will play at the BAM from September 15 through September 26, and then travel to various cities across the nation, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Bentonville, Arkansas. The BAM season will then continue with other stellar shows, including Cria, a Brazilian dance performance from a cis and trans dance troupe from Rio de Janeiro, and a performance series involving 100 toy keyboards from Japanese artist ASUNA

Tickets for Sun & Sea and other BAM fall season shows are already on sale for BAM members. They go on sale for the general public July 27. You can find out more information here 

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