Dance Review: Forever and a Day

The content of the dance-opera is based on a series of poems that Galili wrote during the past two years, first in Hebrew and later – specifically for the opera’s production – in English.

Itzik Galili's 'Forever and a Day'  (photo credit: MARTYNAS ALEKSA)
Itzik Galili's 'Forever and a Day'
(photo credit: MARTYNAS ALEKSA)
Dance-Opera
Itzik Galili

We were navigating between an imagined timeless mythological past and current pains and scars resulting from a hallucinated alternative reality, writes Itzik Galili. Galili is a prolific Israeli choreographer, director, light, set and costume designer, and is now also a poet who says: “We could neither speak nor write. We were wandering arrows in the kingdom of love.”
The content of the dance-opera is based on a series of poems that Galili wrote during the past two years, first in Hebrew and later – specifically for the opera’s production – in English. The original music for the dance-opera was composed by the talented Rita Maciliunaite, who collaborated with Galili throughout the process.
Forever and a Day is performed on a grand scale; it is a multilayered creation and ultimately impressive. It was produced for the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Vilnius, for its 100th anniversary.
The work is a complex saga with mythical elements occurring not in a specific time and place, but rather in a state of mind, bordering on hallucinations via surreal appeal, bred by pain, longing and anguish.
 Are we that young boy with the angelic voice that first crawls towards his mother, sees her empty eyes, turns and goes on all fours towards his father, unnoticed? Galili’s texts and stage visions are packed with symbolic expressions and unsettling images.
Galili uses choreographic subconscious clues to feed this ambitious adventure, by building a cohesive ambience through movement, lighting and set, beyond the solid music that gained its own stature.
The stage elements sustain a somber, hazy and grayish space which never lets go, aiming to be a unifying component to ease off from the ever-changing enigmatic scenes. It jumps from a sordid surreal scene when a line of masked people pop up from openings in a gray prison wall to hyperrealism when dozens storm the stage back and forth, violently protesting an obscure political cause.
Quite surprisingly, those demonstration scenes could be lifts from yesterday’s front page news from Hong Kong, Cataluña, Santiago or Beirut. The transition between worlds is easily achieved when our senses have already been desensitized.
It is sad to accept that a part of a world is without color or real sensitivity, when talking a lot about love renders actions of love redundant. Instead, there are plenty of aggressive – or rather dynamic – actions that don’t translate into specific intents although they are quite impressive, such as the group of shirtless men riding suggestively on long poles.
The work leans on the usage of sequences flowing assemblage style, where one segment doesn’t necessarily relate to the next in terms of content, but relies on other stage tools to make the connection for the audience (which is fine so long as old or borrowed tricks are not used.)
The production was an impressive achievement for the Vilnius opera house, a challenging event made possible through the work of a group of talented people with fertile imaginations, and a particular tour de force for Itzik Galili’s talents and craft.
 Forever and a Day just about managed to avoid the traps of saturation or excess, since this opera had a winning ace in the form of a really tall and elegant international mezzo singer with her warm, dramatic and powerful voice – Justina Gringyte, a born diva – in the role of the goddess.
 When she sang the aria “How slowly we walked wearing the injustice of history to the kingdom of love,” the entire audience was captivated.