Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, Sun & Sea (Marina). Opera-performance at Biennale Arte 2019, Venice. Courtesy of the artists. Photo: Andrej Vasilenko.

Sun & Sea


– 01.06.21

The opera production Sun & Sea, created by the three Lithuanian artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, has won great international acclaim and recognition for its humorous, beautiful and relevant depiction of urgent issues to do with our own future and that of the planet. At the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019 Sun & Sea won the prestigious Golden Lion award for best national participation.

Sun & Sea constitutes a wholly unique work where the audience can experience an opera unfold on an artificial beach composed of light, architecture and music. In this work opera’s traditional presentation form is rethought, and visitors are offered a new kind of experience where song, music, installation art and performance are combined in an unusual, participatory total experience.

Watching from a scaffolding the audience looks down on a sandy beach, complete with sunbathing visitors, a mosaic of towels, bright bathing suits and plastic toys. Life on the beach unfolds like a performance without beginning or end, in which a group of holidaymakers from different backgrounds and of different ages spend a normal day at the beach, reading, eating, drawing, checking their mobiles, sleeping, chatting and playing, while plastic bags are whirling in the air and floating like silent, jellyfish-like organisms below the surface of the water. There is a distant rumble – from a volcano, a plane or a speedboat. All this accompanied by a chorus, singing everyday songs of worry and of boredom. Beneath the bright colours, memories of summer and the seductive humour Sun & Sea is a work about the climate and the condition of our planet. The scene depicted is a crowded beach in summer, evidencing both laziness and lightness while, at the same time, possible imminent climate crises are building up with little concern on the part of the beachgoers. The end of the world, the work suggests, can come upon us with the effortless softness of a pop song.

The innovative opera is written as a ‘stream of consciousness’, switching seamlessly between chorus and verse written for the particular character of each of the bathers. Their songs are poetic, bizarre and often incredibly funny. As the songs grow in number, the small events of everyday life slowly reveal deeper anxieties regarding the planet and human-induced climate change. The songs become a global symphony which, on a planetary scale, addresses the pressing questions about sustainability and ecology of our time. The mood of the songs slips smoothly into almost unbearable passion and pain, and the threat seeps in, slowly, like glistening sun oil.


The artists behind Sun & Sea

Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (b.1983) is a film and theatre director living in Vilnius. In her work she explores the space between objective and imagined realities, her playful approach challenging the anthropocentric way of thinking and experiencing the world.

Vaiva Grainytė (b.1984) is also a resident of Vilnius. She works as a writer, scriptwriter and poet. In her work she deals with personal and collective memory, daily routines and social problems with an approach that is at once poetic and ironic.

Lina Lapelytė (b.1984) lives and works between Vilnius and London. She works as an artist, musician and composer. Her performance-based work has roots in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes and nostalgia.

Sun & Sea is the second collaboration between the three artists.

The staging of Sun & Sea at Copenhagen Contemporary is part of a major Nordic collaboration which takes the work on an extensive tour through the Scandinavian countries. Over the course of the next year the work will thus be presented in Sweden in collaboration with Malmö Konsthall, in Norway at the music festival Borealis in Bergen, at the Reykjavik Arts Festival in Iceland and the Helsinki Festival in Finland.



CPH STAGE is Denmark’s largest performing arts festival of professional adult theatre and takes place in Copenhagen every year at the end of May – beginning of June. Over a period of 10 days the festival presents the breadth of Danish theatre right now as well as successful international touring productions. CPH STAGE is an opportunity to be surprised and forge new paths in the Danish theatre world. In addition to the performances CPH STAGE offers events, readings, debates, seminars, parties and much more.

TRAVERS is a cross-art project offering professional artists from home and abroad the opportunity to challenge their habitual ways of thinking, expand their artistic language and seek out collaborations across art forms.

TRAVERS strives to inspire interdisciplinary processes to pave the way for new works and collaborations across the art forms of music, literature, visual arts, architecture, film and performing arts. This year will see a continued investigation of the theme ‘Confront the Future’, where artists and researchers from around the world will explore how the perspective of the future can incite new ideas, work methods and artistic interactions. A number of hosts from home and abroad will put themselves and their artistic practices to the test in order to explore, together with the participants, how art and the future can affect one another.


This exhibition is supported by

Nordisk Kulturfond

Statens Kunstfond

Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansen Fond

Knud Højgaards Fond


Toyota Fonden

William Demant Fonden

Read the libretto for Sun & Sea here.


Please note

The event is sold out, but it is possible to sign up for the waiting list on this link.


Sun & Sea

An opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė

Concept and development: Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė

Director and Set Designer – Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė

Lyrics – Vaiva Grainytė

Composer and Music Director – Lina Lapelytė

Curator – Lucia Pietroiusti

Tour Producer – Aušra Simanavičiūtė

Tour Coordinator / Stage Manager – Erika Urbelevič

Technical director – Lique Van Gerven

Designer – Goda Budvytytė

Sound Engineers – Romuald Galiauskas

Singing performers: Aliona Alymova, Marco Cisco, Claudia Graziadei, Artūras Miknaitis, Yates Norton, Vytautas Pastarnokas, Eglė Paškevičienė, Kalliopi Petrou, Ieva Skorubskaitė, Svetlana Statkevičienė, Annapaola Trevenzuoli, Elisabetta Trevenzuoli, Nabila Dandara Vieira Santos.

Performers: Raminta Barzdžiukienė, Vincentas Korba, Jeronimas Petraitis, Juozas Petraitis, Pranas Petraitis, Mantas Petraitis, Jonas Statkevičius and others.

Founding Producer – Neon Realism

Co-Producers: Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts, Akademie Schloss Solitude Goethe-Institut, Münchner Kammerspiele, National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Staatsschauspiel Dresden, The Momentary, Arkansas

Sponsor: JCDecaux

Commissioner (Sun & Sea (Marina), Venice, 2019) – Rasa Antanavičiūtė

Founding Patrons (Sun & Sea (Marina), Venice, 2019): Lithuanian Council for Culture, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Laurenz Foundation in Basel, Vilnius City Municipality