Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Greek National Opera presents a series of events at archaeological sites all over Greece

This summer the Greek National Opera presents a series of events at archaeological sites all over Greece. In response to the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Sports to make use of the archaeological sites across the country during this difficult summer, the Greek National Opera participates in the new institution All of Greece, One culture with a series of events highlighting its multifaceted artistic mark, curated by Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis.

From 18 July to 15 September, 20 different music, opera, operetta and dance programmes and tributes will visit 70 archaeological sites, in a total of 111 performances. Under the unprecedented conditions we are all facing, the events will mark the return to the relationship between the artists and the audience, and will be held in compliance with the instructions and guidelines of the competent authorities.

In these 20 programmes proposed by the GNO and organized in 6 cycles, emphasis is given on the Greek music creation, from traditional songs to sophisticated music, including selections from opera and classical music that remain staples in the GNO repertory, while dance is also present through the participation of members of the GNO Ballet.

Admission is free.

GNO’s Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis notes: “The Greek National Opera is an organization that is familiarized with crises. It first opened 80 years ago, a while before the outbreak of the deadliest war in history. In the decades that followed, our organization has been met with moments of glory, but also hardships, triumphs and destructions, managing, however, to always keep the flame of lyric theatre in our country alive. Nowadays, in these hard times that humanity is undergoing, we choose not to stay away from our audience, with whom we’ve never lost touch. We responded to the initiative of the Minister of Culture and Sports, Mrs Lina Mendoni, to make use of the archaeological sites across the country this summer. Despite the unprecedented circumstances we are all under, we are united by the same passion to keep contemporary culture alive. We therefore propose a series of events that highlight the multifaceted artistic mark of the GNO, which is expanded through the collaboration with renowned artists outside our Organization. With the hope of also meeting the high standards set by the Minister from the very beginning she had assumed her duties, we propose 20 different programmes, organized in 6 cycles. This year, summer will be hard. The cultural sector, that has also been hit by the repercussions of the pandemic, seeks its pace and ways to support its people, who are faced with an unprecedented situation. No matter how deep we are in uncharted waters, we need to hope that the best is yet to come, to dare and look into the future with optimism, to overcome the fear, to regain the trust of our audience. Our Minister’s initiative is a positive gesture in this direction, and we enthusiastically support it. While keeping the distances and abiding by the instructions of the competent authorities, we return to the relationship with the audience, the only essential requirement for the arts of live spectacles. Perhaps it is time we adjusted our ambition to simpler things, with more substantial collaborative relationships; it’s time we found ways to match our othernesses, ways to work together, to move from “I” to “we”.

The events will open with the recital of the celebrated mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili at the Roman Agora in Athens on July 18th, accompanied by the GNO Orchestra. The recital will be broadcast via live streaming.

A tribute to our great composer Mikis Theodorakis, who will celebrate his 95th birthday this year, presents a selection of some of his great songs in 4 recitals and at 11 archaeological sites, featuring four charismatic performers, renowned for their artistic contribution, Rita Antonopoulou. Thodoris Voutsikakis, Zaharias Karounis and Betty Harlafti, with Yannis Belonis accompanying them on the piano.

This summer the Greek National Opera pays tribute to one more prominent creator, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his death. Theophrastus Sakellaridis was the “father” of Greek operetta and created dozens of great works that thrived during the interwar period. Two of his wonderful works, I want to see the Pope and Halima, will be presented as live radio operettas.

Traditional music has grown increasingly popular in the last years, through the imaginative, informed and caring approach of young artists and groups who breathe new life into the traditional material. Four groups will present the results of their research and hard work at archaeological sites. The celebrated Estoudiantina Orchestra of Nea Ionia, Volos, under the artistic directorship of Andreas Katsigiannis, will tour Greece with two different music programmes. The first one invites us to a journey in time from Izmir to Piraeus, while the second one includes a tribute to sea and emigration. The female vocal ensemble chórεs created and run by Marina Satti will present an extensive music programme including Yannis Constantinidis’ Eight Dodecanesian Songs. The ensemble Encardia gives us a tour to the rich tradition of the Greek-speaking regions of Southern Italy, while composer and researcher Nikos Xanthoulis’ music ensemble Chrysea Formix takes us on a journey through the ancient Greek music, that engages in a dialogue with choreographies by Marianna Kavallieratou.

One more unique recital by GNO’s celebrated Greek baritone, Dimitri Platanias, will be held in his home city, Kalamata., on August 9th. 

Furthermore, great GNO protagonists will appear in a series of opera galas with excerpts from operatic works with ancient Greek themes. The events will be supported by the GNO Chorus and GNO Children’s Chorus.

Dance will hold a special place in the summer events with the participation of dancers from the GNO Ballet and acclaimed Giorgos Kotsifakis, in a series of dance solos that will be presented in interior spaces of archaeological museums. Choreographies by Ioanna Portolou, Yiannis Nikolaidis, Christos Papadopoulos, Konstantinos Rigos and dancers of the GNO Ballet will be presented as a form of dialogue between movement and immobility.

Distinguished Greek academician, playwright and poet Giorgos Veltsos collaborates with the celebrated actress Reni Pittaki on the work Diary of an unseen confinement. A testament of social isolation.

Finally, one great success of this year’s season, the first screening of the restored copy of Dimitris Gaziadis’ 1930 movie The apaches of Athens returns, this time in an open-air space, in collaboration with the Greek Film Archive and thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, that sponsored the restoration of the film. In fact, one of the two scheduled screenings will be held on one of the sites where the film had been shot, the former royal estate of Tatoi, while the second one will be held at the yard of the National Archaeological Museum, with the accompaniment of the GNO Orchestra.


The full programme is as follows


Anita Rachvelishvili in Recital
With the GNO Orchestra
Conductor Lukas Karytinos

The recital will be streamed live on, GNO’s YouTube channel and GNO’s Facebook page.
Anita Rachvelishvili, a true opera star, has been carving out a hugely successful trajectory at the world’s leading opera houses, with raving reviews by the planet’s greatest Media. After her first breath-taking appearance in Greece in July 2018 in the GNO’s production of Carmen, the much sought-after Rachvelishvili – whom Riccardo Mutti described as “the best mezzo-soprano today on the planet” in his article in The New York Times titled “A young singer takes the opera world by storm”-, returns to Greece for her first solo recital that will take place at the Roman Agora, on 18 July. The programme includes popular arias from operas of Verdi, Cilea, Gounod, Saint-Saëns, Cherubini and Meyerbeer. A unique operatic experience.

Dimitri Platanias in Recital
Performer: Dimitri Platanias
Piano: Sophia Tamvakopoulou

Greek National Opera’s celebrated Greek baritone, Dimitri Platanias, will give a unique solo recital in his home city, Kalamata. Accompanied on the piano by Sophia Tamvakopoulou, the great baritone will perform at the Kalamata Castle Amphitheatre on 9 August 2020 a high-profile programme of popular arias from operas of Verdi, Giordano and Massenet, and songs of Verdi, Tosti, Samaras, and Hadjiapostolou.

From the Municipal Conservatory of Kalamata to his decision – in his thirties – to become an opera singer, and from his early steps at the Greek National Opera to the conquest of the most prestigious European opera houses, Dimitri Platanias’ trajectory has been marked by words such as devotion, study, persistence, goal-setting, concentration, talent, inner strength.

Recital with works of Mikis Theodorakis

First programme
Singing Zaharias Karounis , Piano Yannis Belonis

Second programme
Singing Thodoris Voutsikakis, Piano Yannis Belonis

Third programme
Singing Betty Harlafti , Piano Yannis Belonis, Percussion Stefanos Theodorakis

Fourth programme
Singing Rita Antonopoulou , Piano Yannis Belonis, Percussion Stefanos Theodorakis

The Greek National Opera celebrates the 95th anniversary of the great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis’ birth (1925) with a series of concerts in his honor. The concerts will include some of his emblematic songs that “marked” Greeks for more than half a century, lyricand epic references from his song cycles in collaboration with the most important Greek poets, excerptsfrom his world-famous film hits and majestic popular works. Works that have left their indelible imprints on both theglobal music creation and our country’s cultural heritage.

Four charismatic, established performers, acclaimed for their artistic contribution, Rita Antonopoulou, Thodoris Voutsikakis, Zaharias Karounis and Betty Harlafti will conveyin the best possible way the timelessness of the messages of MikisTheodorakis’ music, passing down their deepest meaning to the younger generations.

Alongside them, the orchestrator and Manager of the Greek National Opera Historical Archive and Music Libraryand close collaborator of MikisTheodorakis for over a decade, Yannis Belonis.

Touring tribute to Theophrastus Sakellaridis

Live “radio” operettas

The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Theophrastus Sakellaridis, a creator who has left a deep imprinton the domestic musico-theatrical life, despite the fact that the creative field in which he excelled was light music theatre. The Greek National Opera honours the frontrunner of Greek operetta, this difficult summer, by presenting two of his most important works as live “radio” performances. Music theatre is, besides, the par excellence theatre of sound. Keeping the distances and giving greater room to imagination, Sakellaridis’ two works will be presented alternately at six archaeological sites, filling this leap year’s summer nights with their spark, humour and wonderful music.

Theophrastus Sakellaridis
I want to see the Pope! (1920)

Cast: Rita Anna Stylianaki, Adrianos Dimitris Paksoglou, Latroudis Vangelis Maniatis, Anna Myrto Bokolini, Varonas Kostis Rasidakis, Mrs Latroudi Lydia Angelopoulou

I want to see the Pope!is a work depictingto the full the modern urban subjectspreoccupying Sakellaridis -who also marks his stamp on the work’s libretto-while undermining the foundations of urban life and generatingvitriolic criticism of the family institution.

In line with the genre’s standards, the composer exhibits a high musico-theatrical resourcefulness in the portrayal of characters threatening the constants of family life. The  libretto is a domestic adaptation of Maurice Hennequin’s Les Joies du foyer(1894). Hennequin’s works have served as the basis for more great works of the composer, such as The Godson (1918) and The daughter of the storm (1923). Sakellaridis renders Hennequin’s tight farce in an eloquent dramatic speech andachieves an ideal musico-theatrical dramaturgy by embellishing the plot with fifteen musical numbers.

Theophrastus Sakellaridis

Orchestration for a four-member instrumental ensemble: Michalis Paraskakis

Cast: Halima Anna Stylianaki, Sach Rouman Dimitris Paksoglou, Ali Mousakas Vangelis Maniatis, Amina Myrto Bokolini, Avoul/Qadi/Racid Kostis Rasidakis, Zoubeida Lydia Angelopoulou

Halima, a spectacular operetta in three acts, as described by its creator, was a huge success when it was first presented at the end of the 20s but also during the 30s at Athenian theatres, and on tours in Greece and in Greek expatriate communities abroad. The story according to Spyros Potamianos’ libretto, slightly inspired by One thousand and one nights, unfolds in a palace in the East, where a sly cook named Ali-Mousakas is being used as an instrument inenchanting Halima and captive prince Sach-Rouman’s love plans.

Halima was given its premiere by the Olympia Kantioti-Ritsiardi company at the Mondial Theatre on 31 August 1926. The leading role was performed by Kantioti-Ritsiardi herself, Sach Rouman by Spyros Bartzos and Ali Mousaka by Paraskevas Economou. The production was directed by Kostis Velmyras and the orchestra was conducted by the composer himself. Halima was retrieved from the Greek National Opera Music Archive and was first revived in 2013 at the GNO.

The apaches of Athens

Director, producers GaziadisBrothers (1930)
Conductor Anastasios Simeonidis
With the GNO Orchestra
Performers: Vera Despina Skarlatou, Titika Miranda Makrynioti, Prince Konstantinos Klironomos

Restored in 2019 by the Greek Film Archive thanks to a donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, at the L’ lmagineRitrovataLaboratory, from a cellulose nitrate based film, with French intertitles.

Dimitris Gaziadis’ The apaches of Athens, with music by Nikos Hadjiapostolou, is the first Greek sound filmincluding singing (1930), which had been deemed lost for many decades. A copy of the film was found four years ago in the CinémathèqueFrançaise archive. It was a very important discovery, as it is the first Greek filmwith synchronized music and singing.  The film was restored, for the Greek Film Archive, in collaboration with Céline Ruivofrom the CinémathèqueFrançaise, at the L’ImmagineRitrovata Laboratory, from this only cellulose nitrate based film copy, with French intertitles.

This historic movie, a valuable document of Athens in the 30s “is brought to life” once again under the auspices of Costas Gavras, as a result of the collaboration between the Greek Film Archive, the CinémathèqueFrançaise and the Greek National Opera. The film, starring some legendary figures of the Greek music scene, such as Petros Kyriakos, Mary Sayanou, Petros Epitropakis, Giannis Prineas, etc., has been an important and lost -until today- link in the history of early Greek cinema.

After the huge success of the first screening of the film’s restored copy in the packed Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center last February, The Apaches of Athens returns for the first time to two open-air emblematic venues.  The screenings will take place at one of the film’s shooting locations, the former royal estate of Tatoi,and at the yard of the Archaeological Museum, with the accompaniment of the GNO orchestra. Anastasios Simeonidis conducts.

The restoration of the film’s soundtrack was made by the Hellenic Music Centre.
Soundtrack adaptation: Giannis Tselikas. Musicological research: Giannis Sambrovalakis

The restoration was conducted thanks to a donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

GNO Soloists Gala

Soloists: Vassiliki Karayanni, Chrissa Maliamani, Cellia Costea, Artemis Bogri, Marisia Papalexiou, Giannis Christopoulos, Christos Kechris, Tassis Christoyannis, Nikos Kotenidis

Nine distinguished soloists of the Greek National Opera take part in a series of unique galas with famous arias from operas and operettas, andclassical cantatas, with subjects drawn from the ancient Greek mythology and Greek literature. The programme includes works of Mozart, Rossini, Stravinsky, Strauss, Purcell, Gluck, Offenbach, Rameau, Poulenc, Massenet, Gounod, Cherubini, Berlioz and Carrer.

Estoudiantina of Nea Ionia, Volos

First programme
Journey through time with the music of Izmir and Piraeus
Second programme
Mare Nostrum, the voyage – The voyage, in our sea & Love in foreign lands

Soloists: Nikos Mermigkas, Kyriakos Gouventas, Sotiris Margonis, Philippos Retsios, Kostas Meretakis, Andreas Papas, Giannis Plagianakos, Kostas Konstantinou, Apostolos Mosios, Stavros Kouskouridas, Apostolos Valaroutsos, Apostolos Vangelakis, Dimos Vougioukas, Andreas Katsigianis, Konstantinos Gedikis

Performing in the first programme: Babis Tsertos, Sophia Mermigka, Vassilis Prodromou, Sophia Papazoglou
Performing in the second programme: Thodoris Voutsikakis, Aspasia Stratigou, Apostolos Mosios,Eftychia Mitritsa

This summer the celebrated orchestra Estoudiantina of Nea Ionia, Volos, under the artistic directorship of Andreas Katsigiannis, presents two exquisite music programmes. Each programme is a different musical journey. The first programme includes a tribute to Izmir and Piraeus, and the second is dedicated exclusively to the sea. Each programme features 8 orchestra soloists and 4 performers.

First programme
Journey through time with the music of Izmir and Piraeus

The programme is dedicated to two cities that have marked the entire Greek culture. Estoudiantina of Nea Ionia on stage with Andreas Katsigiannis present songs from Izmir, the city of love and passion, to the school of Piraeus. The programme includes compositions of: Iovan Tsaous, Kostas Skarvelis, Dimitris Semsis, Ogdontakis (Giannis Dragatsis), Panagiotis Tountas, Prodromos Tsaousakis, Spyros Peristeris, Markos Vamvakaris, Vangelis Papazoglou, Vassilis Tsitsanis etc.

Second programme
Mare Nostrum, the voyage – The voyage, in our sea & Love in foreign lands

The second programme of the tour is structured in two cycles. The first cycle The voyage, in our seais dedicated to the sea that unites 23 different peoples. Common melodies and original adaptations meet on stage with Estoudiantina in a feast of sounds and rhythms. In the second cycle titled Love in foreign lands the journey begins from the East and the Balkans, passes through the Greek-speaking villages of Southern Italy and the Portuguese Fados and ends in yesterday and today’s Greece through the songs of Lina Nikolakopoulou.

Encardia music ensemble concert

Featuring: Vangelis Papageorgiou (accordion, harmonica, singing), Michalis Kontaxakis (guitar, singing), Natalia Kotsani (singing, guitar, castanets), Dimitris Tsekouras (contrabass, singing), Kostas Konstantatos (percussion, mandolin, singing), Gianna Hamaleli, Konstantina Kalkani, Daphne Stathatou (dancing)

The sui generis music ensemble Encardiais one of the most celebrated Greek bands of world music in Greece and worldwide. Having carved out a brilliant career for about two decades already, they still continue to create music and songs drawing inspiration from the rich traditional and lively music of Southern Italy, the Greek-speaking villages of Grecia Salentina, and the wider Mediterranean region.

In their summer concerts Encardia will take us on a musical journey across the distant villages of Calabria, the beautiful regions of Salento and all those places where Grekanika and other local dialects are still being spoken. A colorful mosaic of dialects and sounds with traditional tarantellas and love songs. A Dionysian summer night celebration.
The programme includes: Pizzica di San Vito (traditional tarantella pizzica from the city of  San Vito deiNormanni in Apulia, Southern Italy), Vavel (music by accordionist Vangelis Papageorgiou in a Napolitano rhythm, based on an Arabic quote), Nifta Maiou (a love song from Encardia in the traditional Grico dialect), La tarantella del Gargano (Montanara) (traditional tarantella from the Gargano region in a local dialect), Pizzica di Cosimino (traditional tarantella pizzica from the region of Salento, Southern Italy), Kalinifta (classic  traditional love song from the village Kalimerain Salento)etc.


Marina Satti's chórεs

Artistic director: Marina Satti
Music coach – Musical direction: Eirini Patsea
Movement coach – Markella Manoliadi
With the participation of 10 members of the vocal ensemble chórεs

The female vocal ensemble chórεs continue their successful collaboration with the Greek National Opera with a series of concerts at selected archaeological sites across Greece. These concerts will feature a specially designed programme including Yannis KonstantinidisEight Dodecanesian Songs from Rhodes, Kastellorizo, Tilos, Karpathos, Kos and Kalymnos, eight traditional Greek songs by Lajos Bardos from the cycle Hellasz, as well aspieces from other countries, ranging from African gospels to Balkan songs.

GNO Chorus Concert

With the participation of members of the GNO Chorus
Chorus master Agathangelos Georgakatos

The GNO Chorus participates in this summer’s events with a big concert under the direction of Agathangelos Georgakatos. The concert programme includes choruses excerpted from Giuseppe Verdi’s operas in the first part, and Athenian and Ionian songs, as well as songs from operettas, in the second part.

The full programme is as follows:
First part: Rigoletto, “Zitti ziti” – conspirators’ chorus, Rigoletto “Scorrendouniti” – courtiers’ chorus, Ernani “Eviva! Beviam!” – opening chorus, Macbeth, “Patria oppressa” chorus of the Scottish refugees, La Traviata–chorus of the Gypsies and matadors, Il Trovatore – soldier’s chorus, Nabucco, “Va, pensiero” – chorus of the Hebrew slaves.

Second part: Titos Xirellis Serenade, Spyridon Xyndas The little dawn, Timotheos Xanthopoulos Under the moonlight, Spyros Samaras Lullaby, Theophrastus Sakellaridis Gypsy tango, Jules Enik The Frogs, Panagiotis Glykofrydis Bacchic, Nikos Hadjiapostolou My retsina.

GNO Children’s Chorus
In the context of its educational mission

Featuring members of the GNO children’s chorus
Chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou

GNO’s active Children’s Chorus presents a wonderful summer concert, under the direction of Konstantina Pitsiakou. Members of the GNO Children’s Chorus, accompanied by piano, will perform traditional songs, songs of Benjamin Britten, Bela Bartok and Theodoros Antoniou, Mikis Theodorakis’ children’s song ”What do I want”, and Manos Hadjidakis’ compositions “Mother and Sister”, “A Mother Mary” and “The children down the plain”.

Dance solos

Choreographies by: Ioanna Portolou, Giannis Nikolaidis, Christos Papadopoulos, Konstantinos Rigos, and GNO Ballet dancers

Dance will mark its special stamp on this summer’s events with the participation of GNO Ballet dancers and celebrated Giorgos Kotsifakis in a series of dance solos which will be presented in interior spaces of Archaeological Museums. Engaging in a dialogue between movement and immobility, the dancers will tell new stories based on their own choreographies as well as on choreographies byIoannaPortolou, Giannis Nikolaidis, Christos Papadopoulos and Konstantinos Rigos.

Diary of an unseen confinement

Text Giorgos Veltsos
Performer Reni Pittaki

In a combination of poetry and reflections, the distinguished Greek academic, playwright and poet Giorgos Veltsos portrays in his work Journal of an unseen confinement a double experience of illness and quarantine: on the one hand, there’s the responsibility toward the Other, and on the other hand, the question of an inhuman life that risks losing the possibility to experience life itself as life,not just as mere survival. The distinguished actress of Art Theatre Reni Pittaki performs.

Giorgos Veltsos notes: “Journal of an unseen confinement – Elytis would speak of aJournal of an unseen April – because all of us, during our confinementin the harsh days of this year’s April, pondered on the lyrics from the poet’s work of the same title: “I stayed up all night having run through the history of the death of History, or rather the history of the History of death (and that is not a pun)”. Back then we all ran through both History and death in a journal-recorded time that “marked” its high risk on everyone’s life separately. I also bore witnessin my way, knowing however, that there is no witness for a witness otherthan a third party: the voice and rhythm of Reni Pittaki who willportray it.”

Ancient Greek Music Concert with the Chrysea Formix ensemble

Ancient sounds – Today’s melodies

Singing – Narrator Theodora Baka
Ancient Lyre- Narrator Nikos Xanthoulis
Violin Zisimos Soulkoukis
Violoncello Michalis Porfyris
Programme’s curator and adaptation Nikos Xanthoulis

Choreography Marianna Kavallieratou
With the participation of members of the GNO Ballet

Despite having been lost for over 1600 years, the idea of the ancient Greek lyre has ran through the European music creation and the music art of the near East. In Chrysea Formix ensemble’s  performance Ancient sounds - Today’s music, ancient lyre will be revived through the magical sounds of its chords and will interact,on the one hand, with two classical instruments, a violin and a cello, and on the other hand, with the Greek language, insisting to seek the universe’s harmony in ancient and more recent melodies. The choreography is a signature piece of talented choreographer and dancer Marianna Kavallieratou, in her first collaboration with the GNO.



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