Sun & Sea, at BAM.
Photo: Richard Termine/BAM
Watching one more particular person’s vacation has long previous, within the previous two years, from complex to excruciating. That’s considered some of the full of life miniature knives wielded by Sun & Sea, the prolonged-length opera at BAM’s Fishman Space this weekend. For the 5-hour production (if you enter, that you simply might perhaps set up or lunge as you please), the stage has been transformed real into a pragmatic beach with 25 a great deal of sand unfold from wall to wall. To stare it, the viewers must always lunge to the balcony degree of the dinky theater and stand high above the stage on all four facets, like company in an working theater or technicians within the flies. Now we favor to hold enviously over a railing to stare the beach under, and there’s one thing about that posture — so diverse from the theatergoer’s popular princely seated role — that makes us seem like shadowy family, wallflowers who favor to snoop on the pleasures of others.
The Lithuanian director and placement dressmaker Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė has packed the beach with our bodies, all studying and snacking and whiling the time away, a row of deck chairs forming one nook, a beach umbrella tossed into one more. Thirteen are vocalists; the leisure are supernumeraries ready to mill around and kick sand. The solid’s habits, naturalistic and continuously changing (at the same time as Vaiva Grainytė’s libretto itself does repeat on an hour-prolonged loop), operates at a behind, vacation-day high-tail. A pair discusses whether or now not it’s time to lunge within the water. Younger other folks chatter and play. A dog is taken (dragged) for a lunge. And because the other folks laze on their pastel towels, they also most continuously snort.
The songs are on the total immediate glimpses real into a solar-drowsy particular person’s thoughts: a particular person obsessed on how he met his lover, or a workaholic anxious about whether or now not exhaustion is in actuality a precise issue. Grainytė’s lyrics had been translated into English, nevertheless it completely’s soundless complex view the voices as they prepare Lina Lapelyte’s unmelodic, hopscotch compositions. Every every so often the language is crystal distinct — a particular person remembers the volcano that interrupted his vacation plans, and we hear every note — diverse occasions we favor to confirm the published libretto to be conscious. Lapelyte’s sounds are unfailingly chimelike and accumulated, so it comes as a shock that a number of of the thoughts are heated, even scared. “Our swimsuits are filling up with algae!” the total room sings in chorus, complaining that the ocean is turning inexperienced, heavenly with eutrophication. Because the sound washes over you, it’s easy to miss that the field surrounding these solar worshippers is poisoned, willful, inhospitable: “You are strongly knowledgeable to set up onshore! You mustn’t leave your adolescents unobserved!” The song’s dazed laziness infects them and infects us, too, so we are in a position to’t continually comprehend these warnings.
On the starting up, Sun & Sea became as soon as a rate for the Lithuanian pavilion on the 2019 Venice Biennale. In Venice, a metropolis literally swamped by cruise ships, the topic of the Drag back and forth Industrial Complicated would completely had been a full of life one. Time has most efficient honed that edge: The Biennale efficiency became as soon as close to a yr sooner than pandemic-technology beach vacations modified into … what? Out of attain? Irresponsible? The most efficient to blame model of vacation? As they built the production, Barzdžiukaitė and her team had been clearly obsessed on the formula “leisure” incorporates and erases the evidence of the disasters occurring all around us, and the intervening crises accumulate most efficient made their points extra relevant.
The shaggy dog epic of the title Sun & Sea is that we aren’t in actuality seeing either one. We stare sand, we appear to sense heat, nevertheless the solar and the ocean are themselves essentially “offstage” — they’re the temptations, pressures, and threats the other folks steal for granted. The ocean is packed with riptides and whirlpools — “Acidy waves, ivory foam” a girl sings, telling us about her ex-husband who drowned — and the libretto starts and finishes with a girl singing about sunscreen. “Protection for hypersensitive skin,” she sings, studying the impress, and our minds waft from melanoma screenings to Hawaii and Indonesia, areas the set distinct styles of sunscreen are killing the coral reefs. Jealousy turns to revulsion: The total teeming lifestyles onstage starts to shift, below your weary eyes, into the wriggling lifestyles on a microscope poke, smashed flat by our far flung uncover about. The exaggerated length of the evening is itself fragment of the brand new’s indictment — it presents us a great deal of time to grow ill of contributors and their litter.
The brand new is set questioning pleasure, and I judge it’s intentional that it assemble of ruins your night. Indubitably, your maintain bodily discomfort becomes fragment of the brand new after about half of an hour (depending in your lumbar properly being); your capability to extract epic, drama, and intrigue from micro-occasions will uncover how you are within the occasions under. The song is spare, turning lush most efficient at some stage within the collective choral moments when the total room rings. And the extra the lyrics remind you of all the pieces that’s tainted on the planet, the extra the peek of such extravagant bid of no activity raises your hackles. Presumably this isn’t honest an opera? Presumably it’s aversion remedy for our leisure-obsessed generation? You enter the brand new to a image of enviable ease — and then you leave when that you simply might perhaps’t undergo it anymore.
Sun & Sea is on the BAM Fishman by September 26.
Overview: In Sun & Sea, Econihilism Goes to the Seaside