Julius tells the story of one man’s struggle to hold onto his dream of returning home as he and his family are pulled in conflicting directions by war, occupation, and the search for freedom. Based on the true story of my late grandfather and his experience as a Lithuanian displaced person in Germany from 1944-51, the opera takes musical inspiration from various styles of Lithuanian song, including the songs Julius sang for over fifty years after he left Lithuania.


The most important melodic material in Julius is built from fragments of the songs Julius sang most frequently. The subject and tone of these songs, some of which are quite well known in Lithuania, are dominated variously by lost love, lost youth, a sense of imprisonment, uncertainty, and homesickness. It was only natural to match each dramatic moment to the song whose original text corresponded most closely to the event or emotion depicted on stage.


The harmony, on the other hand, is indebted to the sutartinė, a unique and ancient type of Lithuanian polyphonic song yielding harmony dominated by seconds rather than thirds or triads.  The predominance of secundal harmony throughout Julius supports directly the overall tone of the work.  Just as these pervasive dissonances remain unresolved, so do the lives of the characters who remain in a constant state of tense limbo – always moving, yearning, but never changing.


Julius received its premiere performance on March 23, 2010 at the 3rd annual NOA (New Opera Action) Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania. More information and production photos can be found at www.JuliusTheOpera.com. A blog documenting the creation and production of this work can be found at www.operainvilnius.blogspot.com.


The creation of Julius was funded by a 2008-09 Fulbright grant.  Libretto and direction by Marija Simona Šimulynaitė.



Instrumentation: soloists, SATB chorus, auxiliary trumpet, percussion, piano, and strings

Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes

Year composed: 2009

Act II:  Ryžtas trypia širdis

Act II:  Ar nutolt, tai nutraukt?

Act I:  Vis krauk ir krauk

Act II:  Mes turime išvykti

Act I:  Vargšeliui krenta koja

“O Viešpatie!” (excerpted aria from Act II)

Tomas Pavilionis, tenor

NOA Festival Orchestra and Chorus

Ričardas Šumila, conductor

Tomas Pavilionis, tenor

Tomas Kreimeris, baritone

Skaistė Zutkutė, soprano

Virginija Karpovičiūtė, soprano

NOA Festival Orchestra

Ričardas Šumila, conductor

Tomas Pavilionis, tenor

Ona Kolobovaitė, soprano

Laurynas Butkauskas, baritone

Vilius Tumalavičius, bass

NOA Festival Orchestra

Ričardas Šumila, conductor

NOA Festival Chorus

Ričardas Šumila, conductor

Tomas Pavilionis, tenor

NOA Festival Orchestra and Chorus

Ričardas Šumila, conductor

Amy Owens, soprano

Andrew Schneider, piano