Lithuania is proud of its many professional fields of art.

Theatre. Directors of Lithuanian theatre have won international recognition.

Professional theatre started a hundred years ago in 1899, when the Lithuanian play "Amerika fir/Yie" ("America in the Baths") was first performed. The National Drama Theatre was established in Kaunas in 1920 as JUOIO Vai/kaus Dramos Vaidykla (Juozas Vaitkus' Drama Performers).

Opera Soloists gather around the Opera and Ballet Theatre founded in 1920 by an outstanding singer, Kipras Petrauskas (1885-1968).


The theatre in Panevezys (a town in northern Lithuania) was famous during the Soviet times, when it was directed by Juozas Miltinis (1907-1994), who had studied in Paris and London before World War II. Spectators not only from all over Lithuania but also Latvia and Estonia used to attend his plays.
In recent years, another director, Eimuntas Nekrosius (born in 1952), distinguished himself with his performances on an international scale. Theatres in Europe and the United States have presented plays directed by Mr. Nekrosius; morever his production of "Hamlet" in Moscow in 1998 won the Golden Mask award for best foreign performance.

A rising star of Lithuanian theatre - young director, Oskaras Korsunovas, established his own theatre in 1998 and is actively participating in international theatre festivals.

 In recent times, The Three Tigers - Virgilijus Noreika, Eduardas Kaniava and Vladimiras Prudnikovas - are the most famous opera singers in Lithuania, giving joint concerts. The opera-going public's favorite soloists are Irena Milkeviciiite and Sigute Trimakaite, Judita Leitaite. Internationally high-ranked mezzo-soprano, Violeta UrmanoviCiiHe (Urman), is of Lithuanian origin. She studied voice at the Lithuanian Music Academy and now appears on the stages of Milan, Vienna, London, Paris, and in other major European cities.

The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra headed by Saulius Sondeckis was formed in 1960 and won international recognition in 1976 at the music festival in Luxembourg. Since then, the chamber orchestra has toured nearly all of Europe, as well as the USA, Japan, Canada, Egypt, and South Africa.

The symphony orchestra conducted by Gintoras RinkeviCius is olso famous internationolly.
The best Lithuanion performers and globolly famous guests con be heard during the traditional Vilnius festivals
held each autumn.

Arts. The initiator of modern fine art in Lithuania is Mikolojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911) - a painter and composer, whose name is listed in international art encyclopedias. His cosmogony-type symbolic painting and graphic arts comprise modern and folk themes intertwined with each other. The paintings of Ciurlionis are in a museum in Kaunas named after him.

There are many impressive statues standing in Lithuania's cities and towns. They are made by Lithuanian sculptors of different generations, some erected during recent decades. During the Soviet occupation, hatred prevailed towards "bourgeois" art and many old monuments were destroyed. Some of them were renovated after the independence of Lithuania was restored. A number of prominent Soviet-time statues were brought to the Park of Soviet Sculpture (Groto Parkas), not far from Druskininkai.  Museums, hotels, restaurants and modern offices, display the latest works by Lithuanian painters, sculptors and graphic artists.

Literature. The first Lithuanian book - Catechismus by Martynas Mazvydas was published in 1547 in Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad) in so-called Lithuania Minor that was ruled by Germans at that time. Several proponents of Lithuanian culture descended from this region. The initiator of secular Lithuanian literature, Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714-1780), priest and poet, author of the "Metai"{"The Year") poem lived and created in Lithuania Minor.

Modern Lithuanian literature, that survived the post-Soviet crisis, is recovering now with new talent coming forth. A teacher of present-day literature - poet Justinas Marcinkevicius - awakened national consciousness in Soviet times with his works about Lithuania's past, such as Mindaugas, Mazvydas, and Katedra, and he took part in the movement of national rebirth.

There are numerous days of the year for folk festivals, but because of the large number of sad Lithuanian
songs, an impression is formed that this nation is in mourning. On the contrary, Lithuanians are a relatively cheerful people, and they know how to have a good time. The most characteristic feature of folk festivals is the procession in colorful masks along town streets, masked performances and carnival dances. Fabulous folk festivals occur during the Kaziukas Fair in Vilnius in early spring, during Shrovetide (seeing off the winter) throughout Lithuania, espe­cially in Zemaitija (western and north-western parts of Lithuania), as well as during the autumnal equinox in September, when day and night are of equal length. As the mythologists say, many different miracles take place during the equinox. The grandest folk festivals occur about every five years. These are the folk dance and folk song festivals held in Vilnius. 20,000-30,000 Lithuanian dancers and singers come from all over the globe. Choruses are a thousand strong; dancers take over an entire stadium. Songfests first took root in 1924.