Opera in two acts

The plot of the opera Julius is based on actual events that occurred after the World War II. It is a story about people fleeing deportation and death, who seek to experience a brighter life in foreign lands, but deep inside hope to return to their homeland someday. The main objective of the opera is to reveal the psychology and worldview of an interwar person by documenting authentic events of the time. Family of Julius Jušinskas, grandfather of the opera’s composer Charles Halka, became the prototype for the characters of the opera.

While fleeing Lithuania towards the West together with other so-called DPs (Displaced Persons), Jušinskai family stays in Brandenburg work camp and is later transferred to Wehnen refugee camp in Germany’s Oldenburg region where they wait for the chance to return to their homeland. However, since Lithuania fails to break free from soviet occupation, the family travels to America. Plot of the opera unveils their experience, relationships and values, revealing Jušinskai family history based on actual events.

This opera is very significant to me and my family. Large portion of melodies and harmonies come from Lithuanian folk music, while major tunes are based on the Lithuanian songs that my grandfather Julius used to sing for nearly fifty years after leaving Lithuania.

Composer Charles Halka

Creators of the opera encourage the viewers to contemplate upon the issues of that time suggested by news headlines like “Freedom is more valuable than food” or “Will exchange a slice of bread for a pair of shoes” and to think about how we would perceive them today. They suggest recalling those who, even under most challenging historical circumstances, loudly uttered the word “Lithuania”. How would we say this word today? How did the meaning and significance of the word change? Only several generations have changed since…

The story is neither sharp nor dramatic. Emphasis is placed on the psychological portrayal of characters, the continuous conflict between circumstances, desires, opportunities and dreams. Dialogues have a shade of irony, skilfully conveyed by the NOA choir: DPs, doctor, nurses and agents. Balance is retained between songful recitative of the choir, the orchestra part based on altered chords and soloist bel canto.

Simona Smirnova, Literatūra ir menas