The story of a famous bandit-turned-hero on stage

  • 2011-11-03
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

LEGENDARY BANDIT-HERO: Musical performance Tadas Blinda on stage.

VILNIUS - The legend of Tadas Blinda is back. This is the name of the hero - a kind of Lithuanian Robin Hood (or Zorro) - of the popular late 19th century-origin Lithuanian folklore stories and it is the title of a new Lithuanian movie. In fact, this Lithuanian blockbuster with battle scenes and a love story has now beaten all ticket sales records in Lithuanian cinemas and will definitely be the No. 1 movie, according to ticket sales, in Lithuania this year, leaving behind all Hollywood-produced entries. Tadas Blinda is also back on stage as a musical performance by Vilnius’ Domino Theater. Its 403-seat hall is situated on Savanoriu Ave. 7 in Vilnius.

The music for the stage performance was written by Andrius Mamontovas, 44, who is a Lithuanian pop singer and has enjoyed the status of celebrity in Lithuania since the late 1980s. He also became an actor when, in 1997, Eimuntas Nekrosius, a European-wide famous theater director, gave him the role of Hamlet on stage. Mamontovas, together with several other Lithuanian rock and pop celebrities, created the group LT United for Eurovision 2006, where their song, with text stating We are the Winners of Eurovision, got sixth place. Mamontovas also acted in the Lithuanian movie Loss (2008) and the Latvian movie Amaya (2010).

The relatives of Blinda are still alive. He was born in 1848 and later married and had three daughters. Blinda’s relatives as well as historians say that the real Blinda was a simple bandit and his specialization was in stealing horses – peasants, who could not stand his banditry anymore, beat him to death in the town of Luoke in 1877. However, later the folklore legend of Blinda as a fighter for the cause of the poor against the nobility appeared. In 1900, the Lithuanian female writer Lazdynu Peleda wrote down these stories after listening to the peasants. In 1907, Gabrielius Landsbergis-Zemkalnis wrote a drama for the theater performance titled Blinda, the Equalizer of the World, which was based on the material gathered by Lazdynu Peleda.

In the 1970s, this legend suited well into the Soviet propaganda, which lacked examples of the struggle between the rich and poor in Lithuania. Therefore, a multi-serial TV movie was created in Soviet times. The movie was extremely popular because there was nothing really Soviet in it – it was just a cowboys-and-Indians-style movie transferred into the Lithuanian reality of the 19th century.

Lithuanian pop singers Renata Voitechovskaja, Povilas Meskela and Evelina Anusauskaite, opera singer Rafailas Karpis, TV show presenter Vaida Genyte and others will sing in the musical version of the Tadas Blinda story. Genyte will play Morta, the beloved woman of Blinda. Who will play Blinda is still a secret. This performance was written by Mamontovas in 2004, but then it was performed just once. In 2010, a tour across Lithuania was made with this performance. Now, since the movie Tadas Blinda has beaten all records of ticket sales, the Domino Theater decided to repeat this tour. It will be a renewed show of dancing and singing because new musical pieces to the performance were added by Mamontovas.

The legend of Tadas Blinda as a fighter against injustice is close to the Lithuanian mindset indeed. Last week, all tickets to the Lithuanian-language movie Tadas Blinda were sold out for its opening show in the Prince Charles Cinema in London – there is a big Lithuanian community in that city. Later, this movie is planned to be shown in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities in the United States where many Lithuanians live. It is quite possible that the musical performance of Tadas Blinda will follow the footsteps of the extremely popular movie, but at the moment, it starts its tour throughout Lithuania.