STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION
364 Syggrou Avenue, Kallithea
+30 213 0885700
ASSOCIATE SET DESIGNER
With the participation of a nine-member music ensemble
15 September 2017
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Starts at: 21.00 |
Ticket prices: 15€, 20€, 25€, 35€, 45€, 55€ / Students, children*: 12€
*Children under the age of six (6) are not admitted.
Presale starts on July 22, 2017 at the:
GNO Box Offices at the SNFCC - Tel. +30 2130885700
Group tickets: +30 2130885742
Alternative Stage founding donor
The musical Erotokritos, the great success that inaugurated the Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center last May, will be presented for a single performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on 15 September 2017. Erotokritos’ music and libretto are composed by Dimitris Maramis, who also conducts the performance, while Konstantinos Rigos directs, choreographs, and creates the set.
The first musical commissioned by the Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the season 2016/17. It was praised by the audience in 10 sold out performances as well as by the critics. Dimitris Maramis wrote a particularly melodic musical composition, based on Kornaros’ masterpiece, retaining the Cretan dialect and the verse of fifteen syllables. With influences from the Cretan musical tradition, jazz and the blues, as well as Hadjidakis’ music, the composer created a new melodic universe for the thousands of verses of Erotokritos. As he mentions in his note “The first thing I wondered about was how I would approach the ten thousand verses of this classical masterpiece, written in the Cretan dialect, when parts of it are already embraced by the Greek audience in its traditional musical version. I believed that it should be set to music in a totally different way, in comparison to what we had seen so far, without however betraying not even one syllable of Vitsentzos Kornaros.”
Maramis’ Erotokritos is not set in a particular time or space. It revolves mainly around the timeless elements of Erotokritos and Aretousa’s love story, the “sickness” of desire and the adventures of the young couple until they finally get happily married —even though Kornaros’ verse of fifteen syllables reminds us of the original historical background.
The stage direction by Konstantinos Rigos follows the same line. Rigos set up a performance with contemporary materials and a minimalistic set, combined however with a live camera that focuses on the intensity of the feelings. The direction is based on the musical text and the language of Erotokritos, and at the same time it highlights all those timeless issues that at once unite and separate Aretousa from Erotokritos, in a dramatic and revolutionary intense ambience like the one of Romeo and Juliet.
The lead singers of Erotokritos contributed greatly to the success of the performance: Thodoris Voutsikakis (Erotokritos) and Marina Satti (Aretousa) were the ideal couple of the two youngsters in love; with their great performances, freshness and eroticism they brought out Marami’s music. Along with them, Gautier Velissaris, Ioanna Forti and Kostis Mavrogenis created a high-level ensemble of lead characters.
Composer, Dimitris Maramis, studied piano and composition at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, in the UK. He has collaborated with cultural organizations such as: National Theater, National Theater of Northern Greece, Armonia Atenea - The Friends of Music Orchestra, Athens Concert Hall, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Onassis Cultural Centre (“Hellenic Project”) etc. Many of his works have been presented abroad: USA, UK, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium. He has released eight personal albums: The sonnets of dark love, Winter Sundays, Dark love, Scenes from a silent film, Tango for three, Ay amor, Sentimental age and Federico’s magical world. He has composed music for forty theater performances, films, and educational television. In 2012, he received an award for his music for the theater.
Noted choreographer, director and visual artist, Konstantinos Rigos, a prolific creator and well versed in the genre of opera, directs and choreographs the performance, and creates the setting. After his significant course as choreographer and dancer in the Oktana Dance Theater and the Dance Theater of the NTNG, Rigos in the last years has been distinguished in the field of musical theater for directing successful performances such as: Bossa Nova, Titanic, Red Lanterns and The Wind for the National Theater, musicals Cabaret, Rocky Horror Show etc.
Erotokritos’ protagonists are three young singers who stand out in the Greek music scene:
Thodoris Voutsikakis, in the title role, has cooperated with Stavros Xarhakos, Christos Leontis, Nikos Kypourgos, Lina Nikolakopoulou, Dulce Pontes, Luis Borda, Dimitris Maramis, Athens State Orchestra, and has performed in the Athens Concert Hall, the National Theater of Northern Greece etc. He has released his personal album Sentimental Age (music by D. Maramis) and has participated in the albums Burning flame, Aleli, De Creta a Buenos Aires, Lucky Star etc.
Marina Satti, in the role of Aretousa, is one of the most discussed singers in the Greek music scene lately, since the release of her new song, that has more than 15 million views on YouTube. She graduated from Berklee College of Music (2012) and she represented Greece in the European Jazz Orchestra (2009). She has cooperated with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter, Nikos Kypourgos, and has lent her voice to characters in dubbed animated movies. As an actress, she has participated in theater performances (West Side Story, Shrek the Musical, The fiddler on the roof etc), while she has worked with directors such as T. Moschopoulos, L. Koniordou, N. Mastorakis. The last years she has been experimenting with polyphonic composition and she composes original music for theatre and films.
Gautier Velissaris, in the role of Polydoros, is a singer/songwriter, a self-taught musician, playing mainly the guitar. He has released two albums, Pink Cinnamon (2016) and Babylon (2013). He has performed in various stages and festivals in Greece and abroad, he has collaborated with Marietta Fafouti in the song You Give Me Love. He has shared the stage with artists such as Lana del Rey, Jose Gonzales, Kostis Maraveyas etc.
Along with them are the distinguished opera artists Ioanna Forti (mezzo-soprano) and Kostis Mavrogenis (baritone).
Vintsetzos Kornaros’ Erotokritos is an adventurous narrative poem, written four centuries ago, around 1600, on Crete. It is one of the most beautiful works of the Cretan literature and is considered as one of the most important works of the Renaissance and the whole European cultural output. It has more than 10.000 verses written in the Cretan dialect, in Kornaros’ typical rhymed iambic verse of fifteen syllables. It tells the love story of two youngsters from different social classes, Erotokritos, son of a courtier, and Aretousa, daughter of the king of Athens, Hercules, who through many adventures, opposition and adversities come to a happy end.
It takes courage to set about a masterpiece of Greek literature, such as Erotokritos, and compose music for it. As a composer, I first came across Erotokritos when director Stathis Livathinos asked me to write original music and songs for the performance he was staging at Akropol Theater, in 2011. The following years, I began to present to a wider circle the three main songs, which were typical of my unorthodox musical approach. In parallel, I kept experimenting with more parts of it. The audience’s response to this raw material led me to go deeper into the work and envision a complete musical composition, a musical, structured as an opera, free from narrative prose. Having composed some main scenes and an outline of the whole work, in 2014, I presented it to composer Giorgos Koumendakis, who, after studying it, asked me to complete it in cooperation with composer Alexandros Efklidis, on commission of Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage.
The first thing I wondered about was how I would approach the ten thousand verses of this classical masterpiece, written in the Cretan dialect, when parts of it are already embraced by the Greek audience in its traditional musical version. I believed that it should be set to music in a totally different way, in comparison to what we had seen so far, without however betraying not even one syllable of Vitsentzos Kornaros. The second step was to listen, unbiased, to the music of these immortal fifteen-syllable verses, which hide sounds, rhythms, consonances, dissonances, and many different kinds of music within their strict poetic framework.
I started to organize my musical tool case. Out of the chaos of all music’s sound combinations I had to choose only those musical tools necessary to unlock the emotive passion, the meaning and the beauty of these verses. I chose as a basis the pentatonic scale with blue notes, a rhythmology based on triplets and 6/8 from the blues, as well as jazz and rock harmonies. But that wasn’t enough. I could not ignore Cretan and the Greek musical tradition in general, in which the 5/8 and the 7/8 naturally matched with the work’s lyrics. So, I blended all these in my composition.
The musical’s basic ingredient would be the use of leitmotivs, meaning motifs and specific combinations of chords symbolizing specific situations, concepts and characters of the plot, recurring during the play in different scenes and time periods. Each of the five lead characters has been created with a motif of their own; that way, the viewer is able to recognize them just by listening to the music, even without any lyrics.
As to the libretto, I had decided from the start to use the original text of Vitsentzos Kornaros, as it includes all the works’ poetic force and unperishable beauty. Rarely do we meet in operas, and in musicals in general, such a highly poetic libretto; this alone, constitutes a challenge and makes the whole enterprise special, if not unique. I did not strictly follow the work’s linear plot. Instead, from the whole corpus of ten thousand verses I only chose some and recomposed scenes that don’t exist in the original, at least not in this form. I had to create duets, trios, quartets of characters, and that could not have happened had I used the linear reading of the classical text. A typical example is “the scene of the balcony”, that I call, “Ιf only at the beginning these”. In the original, there is no dialogue between Erotokritos and Aretousa in their first meeting. However, in the musical, I created a duet between the two young lovers with verses picked from the whole corpus of the work. This is how I processed the whole libretto, so that it could serve the specific form I wanted it to have. Thus, the mixture of verses with a common theme, from different parts of the work, forms the skeleton of the story, which remains, however, the same as in the original.
We are at a stage dominated by a multi-level construction with stairs. Here, we rebuild the story of Erotokritos and Aretousa, although not in a particular era. Everything takes place somewhere in the present, maybe somewhere in a time after our own; nothing seems much concrete. The story develops like a puzzle with different places alternating in the stage space: from the interior to the exterior of the palace, prison, room, bedroom, patio, balcony. The choir and the lead characters, dressed in modern costumes with some, however, touches of past traits, shape and create with their presence and movement, every single moment, the place they need to be in.
Based on the text that brings out in detail the heroes’ mental state, I try to show all their emotions in the present. Aretousa is a rebel —a girl of today, or maybe, of tomorrow— bearing however the presence of a dominating father. Erotokritos is a dark hero; a warrior, whose love for Aretousa becomes an obsession. He returns from exile to save his country and his king, and then finally, to righteously claim Aretousa. The lead characters come into conflict with the persons surrounding them, to reach —in contrast to other known love stories— a happy end.
The whole work is a psychological puzzle. And, I try to underline precisely two elements: on the one hand the humor and the lightness, and on the other hand the drama. I overaccentuate the adolescent enthusiasm in the first part, and the adolescent drama in the second. For, let us not forget, in the original text, the heroes are two youngsters: Aretousa is fourteen and Erotokritos just eighteen years old. Erotokritos is a great love story, a revolutionary text about love.
Erotokritos (Rokritos or Rotokritos), a courtier’s son, falls in love with Aretousa, the king’s daughter. He confides his feelings to his friend Polydoros, but the latter discourages and urges him to forget her, as the class differences between them are great. Nevertheless, Erotokritos in the evening goes under the girl’s window and sings to her. Aretousa starts to fall in love with the unknown singer, while her nanny, having realized what is going on, tries in vain to deter her. Erotokritos pushed by Polydoros goes on a long journey to forget his beloved Aretousa. In the meantime, she finds out who he really is: visiting his parent’s house, she “accidentally” enters Erotokritos’ room and finds in one of his drawers the lyrics of his songs as well as a portrait of her. When Erotokritos returns and finds his things missing, he realizes that his secret has been revealed. Nevertheless, Aretousa seems to reciprocate his feelings.
Erotokritos and Aretousa meet each other at night under her window and talk. One night he attempts to touch her hand. Aretousa won’t allow that unless he first asks her father for her hand in marriage. Indeed, Erotokritos’ father does ask for her hand, but the king reacts violently and exiles Erotokritos. The young couple bid each other farewell, Aretousa gives a ring to her loved one, as a token of eternal faithfulness, and Erotokritos leaves the country.
The king, having realized that his daughter is in love with Erotokritos, speeds up her wedding with the prince of Byzantium. Aretousa refuses to marry him and the king imprisons both her and her nanny. After three years in exile, Erotokritos hears that his country is under siege by the Vlachs. His face painted black so as not to be recognized, he rushes against the enemy. During a critical combat, he saves the king’s life, while the Vlachs retreat. The king expresses his gratitude to the young man by offering him his kingdom. Erotokritos asks instead the princess’ hand in marriage and with the king’s permission he goes to prison. Aretousa however, who fails to recognize him, rejects his marriage proposal. In the end Erotokritos shows himself. Aretousa sees her loved one and accepts to marry him.