Ballet Company Of The Lithuanian National Opera

The court ballet in Lithuania was started in the 16th century. At the same time dance was encouraged at school theatres too (e.g. at the Vilnius College founded in 1570, which in 1579 was reorganized into the Vilnius University, at the Kraziai College and the Kaunas College, founded in the 17th century). Latin school drama, which survived more than 200 years, united all the branches of the arts. Traditional plots as well as taken from Lithuanian history were danced then.

On September 4, 1636 drama musicale Il ratto di Helena by playwright Virgilio Puccitellia and unknown composer was staged at the court theatre in Vilnius. The court theatre of Lithuania’s Grand Duke and Poland’s King Ladislaus Vaza, which had already performed in both capitals Warsaw and Vilnius, produced the premiere. There were 20 dancers in the theatre.

The ballet became particularly popular in the middle of the 18th century. Dramas, called ballets, were produced at the Vilnius University. The nobles of Lithuania supported ballet troupes and ballet schools, directed by Italian and French ballet masters. Then there were 10 theatres at the courts working for longer or shorter period of time. They survived up to the beginning of the 19th century. At the public town theatres, founded in Vilnius and Klaipeda in 1785, ballet has little developed. However, during the 19th century the ballet in Lithuania was extremely enriched by the guest performances of French, Italian, later Russian ballet troupes.

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