Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, closed since October 2020, put together a TikTok video with members of its opera chorus singing, oddly, a sea shanty – Soon May the Wellerman Come. More than four million people have seen the one-minute clip since it was put online on 7 February.
Last year, versions of the Wellerman became viral hits on TikTok, leading to an unlikely social media craze around sea shanties.
A week ago, the ballet company put up a clip responding to a current TikTok fad, the #silhouettechallenge. The ‘challenge' has users post clips of them silhouetted against a red background. Many are amusing, most boring, but the Lithuanian Ballet's clip is poetic and technically excellent.
Gediminas Seduikis, the theatre's director, told Reuters,
Our advantage is that we can do simple things of very high quality. Many similar TikTok videos are filmed in a toilet. And here we are, on a national opera stage, with five megastar ballerinas, 60 kilowatts of lighting and all the professional staff.
Thirty-two thousand people have seen the ballet clip so far. Jonas Sakalauskas, the general manager said,
It's opera competing against ballet. Everyone can't wait to see who gets more views.
In a country with less than three million inhabitants, the theatre attracts about 150,000 visitors a year. Seduikis adds,
Our secret is simple – we got lucky. We fired an email to all our singers with the idea, and some of them showed up at the agreed time to sing. That someone else liked the result is pure luck.
Top photo Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet TikTok video © Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.