Little Paris, the interwar nickname of Kaunas, isn’t the only thing in common between Lithuania and France. In fact, the friendship between the two countries is very close and there are a lot of stories to tell, starting much, much earlier than 1930. That’s why March in Kaunas and pretty much the rest of the world is The Month of La Francophonie.
La Francophonie is an international organization representing countries and regions where French is a lingua franca, where a significant proportion of the population are French speakers, or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture. The organization comprises 57 member states and governments, three associate members and twenty observers (Lithuania is one of them).
In March, the residents and visitors of Kaunas will be able to get to know the culture of France, Canada, Switzerland and a handful of countries in Africa, through a vast array of events. The program includes concerts, dance performances, lectures, conferences, literature readings, film screenings, dinners, excursions and beyond. So, dear readers, parlez-vous français?! Well, if you don't, you can still enjoy the music, stage and food sections of the program!
The Month of La Francophonie will be opened on March 2nd with a concert by Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Ambroisine Bré (mezzo-soprano, France), conducted by Yann Molénat (France). The program of the opening night at the Kaunas State Philharmonic includes music by both Lithuanian and French composers.
On March 3rd, an early afternoon concert (2pm!) is scheduled at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. The ensemble of the Conservatory of Grenoble will perform music by Claude Debussy, Henri Duparc, Maurice Ravel, Gabriel Fauré, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Hubert Giraud, Edith Piaf, arranged for piano and accordion.
The same day, on 7pm, a legendary six-piece from France Lo’Jo – 15 albums in their discography! – will perform a show in the VMU Main Hall (Tickets).
The music isn’t stopping just yet – yet another live music event for March 3rd is scheduled at Džem’pub, a fantastic bar with a panoramic view right on Laisvės alėja. Keith Kouna from Canada will perform there, starting 9pm.
Chamber music lovers should head to the M. and K. Petrauskai department of Kaunas City Museum on March 14th. Starting 6pm, Virginija Unguraitytė (piano) and Jomantė Šležaitė (vocals) will perform a program called ‘Moonlight’.
On March 18th, sounds of romantic French music by Marija Arutiunova (vocals) and Dalia Jatautaitė (organ) will fill the spectacular Kaunas Parochial Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and Paul, the only church in the Gothic style of basilica design and the biggest building of Gothic sacral type in Lithuania. The Sunday special will start at 4pm.
The Month of La Francophonie will start and end with a concert. An event called “I Love France” is scheduled for March 28th. Prepare for a night full of les chansons and opera arias performed by the students of VMU Music Academy and the Makštučiai family. The concert at Kaunas University of Technology Aula on A. Mickevičiaus g. 37 will start at 6pm.
Two literary afternoons have been announced, both at the new multifunctional building of Vytautas Magnus University on V. Putvinskio g. 23. On March 15th, Mohomodou Houssouba, an author and literary scholar from the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel (Switzerland) will present the latest news about the francophone poetry of Africa. On March 19th, Mohamed Saki, researcher in History of Linguistics, Discourse Analysis and Composition Studies, will read a lecture on the legendary Moroccan poet Abdelatif Laâbi. Both afternoons start at 5pm; the lectures will be conducted in French and translated into Lithuanian.
On March 6th, 7pm, a play “I am Molière” will be performed at the Kaunas State Drama Theatre (in Lithuanian). The director Inesa Paliulytė has rewritten Molière’s “The Imaginary Invalid” and she gave the main role, as it was appropriate, to the comedic author himself. It’s a play full of clownery, French farce, elements of pastorals and even operettas. The mysterious, fragile origin of the actor is seen in a new and surprising light, like a promise of the triumph by the all-powerful art.
Kaunas dance theatre Aura, the only theatre of contemporary dance in Lithuania, are rehearsing a performance choreographed by Bea Debrabant (France) and Birutė Letukaitė (Aura) for March 20th. The performance called “I’d like to be a fern blossom” will be held at the VMU main hall. The night starts at 7:30pm.
The International day of Francophonie is on March 20th, and March 21st is The World’s Greatest French Dinner, a worldwide (over 3000 restaurants in 5 continents!) event organised by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the chef Alain Ducasse. In Kaunas, Dia and Monte Pacis will join the Goût de France initiative. To join the celebration of the vitality of French cuisine and unite around the joint values of sharing and pleasure, we suggest you book a table as soon as possible.
‘L’avenir’ (‘Things to Come’ in English), a 2016 French-German drama film written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve and Isabelle Huppert as middle-aged philosophy professor Nathalie Chazeaux, whose life is going through a series of separations, will be screened at the Romuva cinema on March 13th, 6pm.
Two documentaries on Louvre museum and Musée d'Orsay will be screened at Kaunas University of Technology on A. Mickevičiaus g. 37 on March 27th. The film night starts at 6pm and the documentaries will be dubbed in Lithuanian.
Lectures and conferences
The Month of La Francophonie will be packed with discussions, lectures and talks on various local and global topics. The events of the month will be visited by numerous international guests. All of the lectures and conferences will be held in Lithuanian or French (translated into Lithuanian); you’re more than welcome to check the schedule of the whole month here if you speak any of the two languages.