In the dawn of 15th century Vytautas the Great has invited Karaims to come and settle in Lithuania, where lands in the historical capital of Lithuanian Grand Duchy, Trakai, was dedicated for the Karaites diaspora. Historically, Karaims were elite soldiers, who faithfully guarded the Grand Duke Vytautas and formed one of the most important fighting units in the battles of Grunwald and many others.
Now, 625 years later, the Lithuanian parliament has decided to honour and celebrate this great nation by officially declaring the year 2022 as the Year of Lithuanian Karaims.
To commemorate the Year of the Lithuanian Karaims we are proud to present a grand musical drama “A Saga about a Heart Gifted”. It will be performed by top Lithuanian artists in the historic castle of Trakai, which was built to be Lithuanian capital at that time and a place for Lithuanian Karaims to call their home.
The musical drama is composed as a ‘world music opera’ and the scenario is based on a Karaim legend about a clever Karaim warrior who was very loyal to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas and saved lives of Duke’s convoy and adversaries many times. “A Saga about a Heart Gifted” shall reveal the unique relationship between Lithuanians and Karaims – a relationship of trust, brotherhood, acceptance of each other cultures, but without forgetting the underlining importance of their native heritage.
In the artistic sense, this musical drama shall use modern and creative methods for the use of sounds, graphical videos, unique scenography elements and choreography that will present the story in a modern fashion. The story will be told in Karaim and Lithuanian languages, and the spectators shall have a great opportunity to listed to many melodies and tones of the traditional Karaim music.
People implementing this project are already world famous in their respective fields – composer Linas Rimša (leader of world music style in Lithuania), director Dalius Abaris (has won several European awards in 2021 for putting Wagner’s “Der vliegende Hollaender” on stage), scenario by Alvydas Šlepikas (a very creative Lithuanian author, winning many Literature awards, also known as a film script writer).
Ensemble “Lietuva” (“Lithuania”) will be the main performer on stage (choir, musicians, dancers) joined by several famous singer-soloists.
The premiere of “A Saga about a Heart Gifted” will take a place in Trakai castle on 19-20th August 2022. After that several others performances will follow in the main cities in Lithuania.
Composers: Linas Rimša and Gintautas Venislovas
Director: Dalius Abaris
Choreographers: Agnija Šeiko and Aušra Krasauskaitė
Author of the script and libretto: Alvydas Šlepikas
Chief conductor: dr. Egidijus Kaveckas
Scenography artist: Sigita Šimkūnaitė
Costume designer: Sandra Straukaitė
Light artist: Andrius Stasiulis
Authors of video graphics: Lukas Miceika and Vaclovas Nevčesauskas
State ensemble „Lietuva“ and guest musical artists
Vytautas the Great: Vytautas Rumšas vyr.
Zarach, the old Karaim father: Valentinas Krulikovskis
Nathan, son of Karaim: Rafailas Karpis
Natan’s beloved Bijana: Rasa Serra
A spy sent by Jogaila, the monk Henrikas: Andrius Bialobžeskis
Vytautas the Great’s confidant and protégé Ainius: Ilja Gun
Ainius’ beloved Austeja: Aistė Benkauskaitė
The patron of the project is the Lithuanian National UNESCO Commission.
Project partners – Trakai District Municipality and Trakai History Museum.
Media sponsor – LRT.
Sponsors – UAB Layher Baltic, UAB Litana, AB Lietkabelis, UAB Nemuno banga.
The project is partially financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Chancellery of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.