Fighting as a partisan in the mythical Baltic past and in wars in 20th century Eastern Europe at the same time, Baņuta’s life is saved by weary and disenchanted Lithuanian prince, Daumants. Speeding away on a motorcycle, he brings the fighter back to his homeland in Romove, a holy Baltic site. There is about to be a wedding, but the preparations are interrupted by ravens. Their black feathers are a mirror for Daumants’ conscience and act as a reminder of his crime against Jargala, a girl he raped and killed. Soon Daumants falls in battle, and being a stranger in Romove, Baņuta is caught up in sacrificial rituals and revenge. However, she is strong-willed and will not bow to fate – no one will take her happiness away.
A hundred years after the premiere of Alfrēds Kalniņš’ first Latvian opera Baņuta in 1920, comes the opera film Baņuta – an international project that melds opera, musical performances, the conditionality of the performing arts and contemporary performativity. Director Franziska Kronfoth and dramaturg Evarts Melnalksnis bring together Latvian artists and the German musical theatre collective “Hauen und Stechen” to interpret the dramatic message, which they do without sentimentality, playing with time and shattering space into pieces. The trauma and violence of war and personal relationships is an important leitmotif – Baņuta takes part in partisan battles, bringing with her the collective experience of the women who have suffered through the wars in 20th century Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, mixing the boundaries between genres, a paradoxical sense of humour seeps into the tragedy, while characters stuck deep in the centuries strive to break the fourth wall.
The creative team of the project consists of dramaturg Evarts Melnalksnis, the musical theater ensemble Hauen und Stechen from Berlin, actors of the theatre association KVADRIFRONS, as well as invited vocalists and instrumentalists. The project is implemented by creative industries company Story Hub in cooperation with the association Sansusī.
Story Hub creates interdisciplinary cultural projects and interactive multimedia content, providing a full project management cycle from idea development to production and distribution, while Sansusī focuses on contemporary music, as well as other forms of contemporary art (circus, theatre, dance), offering not only quality content to viewers, but also promoting the professional development and international recognition of local artists, and the emergence of interdisciplinary forms in the Latvian cultural environment. Hauen und Stechen is a musical theatre ensemble founded in 2013 in Berlin. It works on musical theatre projects that erase the limitations of genres and confront the art form of opera with phenomena from contemporary dramatic theatre, cinema, philosophy, performance and the fine arts. They have had almost 40 productions, including at the Bavarian State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, the Sophiensaelen in Berlin, the Potsdam-Sanssouci Music Festival and elsewhere.
Co-Producers: “Story Hub” (LV), Association “Sansusī” (LV), “Goethe-Institut Riga” (LV) “Hauen und Stechen” (DE)
Partners: Association “KVADRIFRONS”, “Mākslas birojs”, concerthall “Tu jau zini kur”.
Financial Supporters: Goethe Institut Riga, State Capital Foundation, Riga City Council, VV FOUNDATION, British Council