Article excerpt

In 1636, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland, Wladslaw Vasa, introduced the first Italian opera, The Abduction of Helen, to the Vilnius stage, composed by Marco Scacchi to the libretto by Virgilio Puccitelli. It was a remarkable phenomenon in the history of European culture: just two centuries after it adopted Christianity and became part of the Christian culture, Lithuania outpaced France, England and Germany in embracing a new form of art based on the synthesis of fine arts, music and poetry, namely opera. Scenery for the performance was designed and set up by the Italian architects, artists and engineers, but some task could have been delegated to Italian artisans. From 1636 to 1648, Vilnius witnessed the productions of three operas: The Abduction of Helen (Il rattto di Helena) in 1636, The Andromeda in 1646, and The Disillusioned Circe (Circe delusa) in 1648.

In June 2008, the Lithuanian Art Museum launched an exhibition illustrating the early history of opera in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. …


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