Opera “Have a Good Day!” Tours in Hamburg: Composer, Director and Producer Debut as Cashiers

2022 02 09

This year, the festival of performing arts Lessingtage (named after critic and dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing) organised by Hamburg Thalia theatre took place on 20 January – 6 February. Opera Have A Good Day! by Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė and Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė presenting stories of 10 cashiers at trade centre closed the festival at Thalia theatre on 5 and 6 of February. Tickets to both performances were sold out long before the start of the festival, however, there were other challenges the creative team faced while touring.

Since the organisers of the festival decided to present a programme of live performances and invite guests from abroad, Operomanija’s producer Ana Ablamonova noted that the tour of Have A Good Day! in Hamburg was followed by worries and responsibility over the successful presentation of the performance and very strict rules and control set by the organisers.

We faced tremendous challenges posed by the virus. There is a lot of tension both in Lithuania and Germany as the numbers of infections are rapidly rising and it surely was not the best time to hold a tour of 18 people, who also work at other jobs. Unfortunately, several members of our team or their close relatives got infected with the virus, so we had to replace several people just before the shows. Having employed the whole array of all suitable replacements who were able to travel at moment’s notice, we ended up replacing several cashiers with opera’s composer Lina Lapelytė, director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė and me, the producer,

said Ana Ablamonova sharing her impressions about the tour at Thalia theatre.

Author of the libretto Vaiva Grainytė claims that this was the craziest tour imaginable:

An extreme omicron remix. Normal companies would cancel the performances, but being adrenaline fans that we are we took the risk and succeeded. We realised that all challenges can be overcome and that nearly all of us can sing.

Her words were confirmed by composer Lina Lapelytė, who also replaced one of the cashiers during both performances.

It was interesting to identify with the performers, to understand what responsibility and feelings burden or delight the opera singers. Actually, this opera has set my own voice free during an early stage of its creation, since I had to sing to demonstrate my musical intentions to the singers. In Hamburg I had a chance to check whether my ideas were adequate and to sing along others during the rehearsals and on stage,

said Lina Lapelytė.

However, the surprises did not end there and for the second performance of the opera, its director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė had to join the already singing producer and composer. 

When it turned out that this chain of force majeure events requires me to join the cashiers’ choir, I thought that I will soon be exposed as impostor cashier, but to my own surprise I realised that I knew most of the intricate wordplays associated with the products the performers sing about!,

said Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė about her new experience.

The event was organised by Thalia theatre, founded in 1843 – today it is the major theatre stage in Hamburg and entire Germany. This year’s solid programme of the Lessingtage festival presented works by German and foreign creators, including the premiere of The Black Monk by famous Russian film and theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov, which was produced at Thalia theatre, as well as the production of The Life of Vernon Subutex 1, directed by Thomas Ostermeier.

Opera Have A Good Day! has been performed more than 70 times. Successfully running in Lithuania and abroad for eleven years, the production is getting ready for new tours – it is planned that early in March the opera will be performed at Moscow’s Tretyakov gallery.