"Švyturiai" Awards is one of the most beautiful traditions of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. This year the awards were given out for the 11th time in a row, acknowledging best opera and ballet soloists of the year who created memorable roles on the stage of LNOBT. "Švyturiai" Awards were bestowed to the following soloists:
- Sandra Janušaitė: Opera Soloist of the Year (for the role of Tatyana in P. Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugene Onegin")
- Inga Cibulskytė: Ballet Soloist of the Year (for the role of Isolde in "Tristan and Isolde")
- Merūnas Vitulskis: Debut of the Year (for Lensky in P. Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugene Onegin" and Alfredo in G. Verdi's opera "La traviata").
The Opera and Ballet "Švyturiai" Awards were established by the "Švyturys - Utenos Beer", award for the Debut - by LNOBT's support foundation "The Lyre of Orpheus".
"I'm very glad that at the end of the year we can once again congratulate brightest opera and ballet stars," - said the general manager of "Švyturys - Utenos Beer" Rolandas Viršilas. "Their hard work is priceless - every time they perform on stage one can feel all of the most beautiful emotions and experience the true meaning of beauty. I'm very honoured to be able to support these greatest artists, to be beside them. These awards signify our support to Lithuanian culture and art."
General manager of the LNOBT Gintautas Kėvišas claims: "These awards, over the decade of their existence, passed over a generation of artists. Today the "Švyturiai" awards signify the achievements of another, younger generation. This year we had a limit of 3 awards - such decision, apart from other circumstances, was determined by the wish to highlight only the best works of the year."
The winners of the awards are chosen by a committee of opera and ballet experts since 2002. Over the years the "Švyturiai" awards were bestowed to many masters of the stage, including opera soloists Irena Milkevičiūtė, Vytautas Juozapaitis, Joana Gedmintaitė, Dainius Stumbras, Laimonas Pautienius, Julija Stupnianek, Viktor Aleshkov (Russia), Sandra Janušaitė, Sigutė Stonytė, Egidijus Dauskurdis, Irena Zelenkauskaitė, Jovita Vaškevičiūtė, Kęstutis Alčauskis, Ramūnas Urbietis, Vladimiras Prudnikovas, Rafailas Karpis, Ieva Prudnikovaitė, Kostas Smoriginas and Vaidas Vyšniauskas, ballet soloists Eglė Špokaitė, Nerijus Juška, Olga Konošenko, Takasi Aoki (Japan), Aurimas Paulauskas, Miki Hamanaka, Eligijus Butkus, Inga Cibulskytė, Nailia Adigamova, Martynas Rimeikis, Andrius Žužžalkinas, Romas Ceizaris, Anastasija Čumakova.
The number of nominations was also changing throughout these eleven years. In 2007 an exclusive award Little Opera Hope of the Year was given to Rimantas Žaldokas who performed principal role in "The Little Prince", while in 2009 "The Lyre of Orpheus" presented special prizes for Best Performance of Secondary Roles. These awards were given to Arūnas Malikėnas and Rafailas Karpis. In 2011 the same foundation introduced the Debut of the Year category, in which the first winner was young ballet soloist Kipras Chlebinskas.
"Švyturys - Utenos Beer" is a faithful supporter of Lithuanian projects of culture, arts and sports. The company has been the general sponsor of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre for 11 seasons.