Downtown Brooklyn is getting a temporary beach. Sun & Sea (Marina), the immersive operatic performance set on a faux-waterfront, which made its debut in the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, will make its US premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s (BAM) Fisher Theatre for two weeks this autumn (15-26 September), before it tours the country. The work, a collaboration between the film-maker and director Rugile Barzdziukaite, the writer Vaiva Grainyte and the artist and composer Lina Lapelyte, won the Golden Lion prize at the Biennale, the international exhibition’s highest honour.
As was the case when it was on view in Venice, visitors to the piece will peer down from a balcony that overlooks the performers, who deliver a beach-bound, pathos-driven opera that deals with, among other subjects, the existential threats of climate change. Thirteen singers will perform the work while 25 community members will act as extras who languidly pass their time as sun-worshippers. When the inventive work was first shown in Venice, the ensuing buzz surrounding it made it one of the must-see projects of the Biennale. While the pavilion initially hosted daily performances, these were soon scaled back to just one day per week due to the elaborate needs and large cast that the project demands.
“It’s an incredible spectacle,” David Binder, BAM’s artistic director who saw it in Venice, told the New York Times. “The beachgoers are just passing the day away as things are coming to an end.” The performing arts editor Joshua Berone described the project in a 2019 review as a “remarkable achievement” saying that, “within a single hour of dangerously gentle melodies, 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.”