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The Greek National Opera’s 2023/24 season programme –conceived by GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis– is bringing a fresh line-up to the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus that features classic works of the repertoire in new productions, the first Wagner work to be staged at the SNFCC, one new opera, major co-productions with international houses, leading conductors, directors, and set designers, famous soloists, new ballet productions, revivals of popular opera and ballet productions, as well as the third work to be commissioned for The Artist on the Composer programme, not to mention an ongoing major tribute marking the centennial anniversary of Maria Callas’ birth. This programme is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.
Of the new opera and ballet productions being presented as part of the 2023/24 season, the Stavros Niarchos Hall will be hosting Les Éclairs by Philippe Hersant, with a libretto by Jean Echenoz; a double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci directed by Nikos Karathanos; Brecht and Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny directed by Yannis Houvardas; Wagner’s Die Walküre directed by John Fulljames; and the ballets Carmen and Coppélia choreographed by Johan Inger and Edward Clug respectively, while Puccini’s Turandot –directed by Andrei Șerban– is to be staged at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus to mark the centennial anniversary of Puccini’s death.
The GNO is further expanding its co-production strategy this season, working with the Opéra Comique (Paris) on Les Éclairs, the Royal Danish Opera on Die Walküre, and NEON for the third edition of The Artist on the Composer programme, commissioning Ioanna Pantazopoulou.
Revivals of major past opera and ballet productions will be bringing Verdi’s La traviata, directed by Konstantinos Rigos, to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, while the Stavros Niarchos Hall will be hosting Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk directed by Fanny Ardant, and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker choreographed by Konstantinos Rigos. To honour the memory of the great director Graham Vick, who recently passed away, the GNO is also reviving his production of Puccini’s La bohème, which he staged at the GNO during the 2007/08 season.
For its season 2023/24 performances, the GNO will be welcoming such world-renowned Greek and international artists as the globally acclaimed Greek set and costume designer Chloé Obolensky, British designer Leslie Travers, the leading directors Andrei Șerban, John Fulljames, Yannis Houvardas, and Nikos Karathanos, the choreographers Johan Inger and Edward Clug, and a full roster of famous soloists, including Nadine Sierra, Ekaterina Gubanova, Catherine Foster, Freddie De Tommaso, Dimitri Platanias, Svetlana Sozdateleva, Cellia Costea, Sergey Semishkur, Vassiliki Karayanni, Dionysios Sourbis, Yannis Christopoulos, Tassos Apostolou, Arsen Soghomonyan, Tommi Hakala, Marina Prudenskaya, Stefan Vinke, Allison Oakes, and Petros Magoulas. New season productions are to be conducted by both internationally acclaimed and up-and-coming maestros, including Paolo Carignani, Pier Giorgio Morandi, Philippe Auguin, Ondrej Olos, Fabrizio Ventura, Miltos Logiadis and Yorgos Ziavras.
In June 2024, the GNO will be presenting a concert tribute to Manolis Kalomiris spotlighting the composer’s links to the GNO and showcasing two of his unknown works.
The tribute programme marking the centennial anniversary of Maria Callas’ birth will be reaching its peak from September through December with, among other events, an opera gala at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Unboxing Callas: An Archival Exploration of the Dimitris Pyromallis Collection and the GNO Archive exhibition at the National Library of Greece, and a documentary on the unsung Greek years of Greece’s great diva.
Across the first three days of Orthodox Easter Holy Week in 2024, the GNO will also be presenting its Second Sacred Music Festival at monuments, museums, and churches set within the Plaka neighbourhood in the very heart of Athens.
For its 2023/24 season, the Greek National Opera is seeking to cast a critical yet compassionate eye over the female figures that appear in works of opera and dance, contemplating pressing issues of women’s empowerment, and envisioning the eradication of social exclusion, inequality, and gendered violence. From the emancipated Katerina Ismailova, the consumptive seamstress Mimì, the betrayed peasant girl Santuzza, the indomitable Carmen, and the fearless warrior Brünnhilde through to the free-spirited sex worker Jenny Hill, the mysterious Coppélia, the solitary Princess Turandot, and the courtesan Violetta Valéry, the heroines of the 2023/24 season grandly loom large within their stories, even though many of their fates have drawn criticism over the years. Retaining a sense of respect for the classical masterpieces of centuries past, and avoiding any simplistic intent to cancel the narrative achievements of their creators while also remaining actively engaged with and involved in the progressive achievements of 21st-century society, the GNO is seeking to spark discussion with regard to traditional portrayals of women in works of the repertoire, thus contributing to efforts fighting for equity and social fairness.
The GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis had this to note about the programme: “With the Greek National Opera’s 2023/24 season, our aim was to tackle new artistic challenges. Through our arts programming, we wish to pose questions about, and seek answers to issues that are timeless and universal. From the full and balanced programme forged in partnership with my associates, I would like –in the limited space available here– to shine a spotlight on the first work of Wagner to be presented inside the Stavros Niarchos Hall; our production of Turandot, presented at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in honour of Puccini’s centennial anniversary, with sets and costumes by the great, globally acclaimed Greek designer Chloé Obolensky, and staging by the leading director Andrei Șerban; the return of both Yannis Houvardas –to present a Brecht-Weill masterpiece– and Nikos Karathanos, to stage the Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci double bill; Les Éclairs, a new work by Philippe Hersant and Jean Echenoz; our Ioanna Pantazopoulou commission for The Artist on the Composer; our two new ballets, Carmen and Coppélia; and our revivals of magnificent productions directed by Fanny Ardant and Konstantinos Rigos. With our revival of La bohème, we honour the memory of a truly great director who worked with the GNO: Graham Vick. During the first four months of our new season programme, major focus is to be pulled by our tribute to Maria Callas thanks to an opera gala at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a major exhibition at the National Library of Greece, and a documentary on the unsung Greek years of the incomparable soprano, while in the spring of 2024 we will be presenting our Second Sacred Music Festival at monuments, museums, and churches in the heart of Athens.
For 2023/24 –having pondered the significance and sway that art holds over our lives– we will be underlining the importance of eradicating inequality and gendered violence, and we call on all friends of the GNO to see classic works of the repertoire as an opportunity to reflect upon issues of women’s empowerment, grounded in the progressive achievements made by 21st-century society.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend warm thanks to the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni for supporting the Greek National Opera’s artistic mission, and for the personal care and attention she has invested in resolving any and all issues.
Heartfelt thanks go to the Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Andreas Dracopoulos for his close partnership and concerted efforts to tangibly support our ambitious artistic outreach plans that are giving the GNO a presence on the world stage.
Sincere thanks also go to all our sponsors for the support they have shown our productions.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the Chair and members of the Board, my associates, as well as all the artistic, administrative, technical, auxiliary, and other personnel of the GNO.”
Tickets for our September–December 2023 productions go on sale 31 July 2023 at the GNO Box Office and via ticketservices.gr.
GNO lead donor
Foreword by the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni,
for the GNO’s 2023/24 season programme
As we have come to expect in recent years, the Greek National Opera’s new season, for 2023/24, is to present a high-calibre programme that is arguably more ambitious than ever, and certainly worthy of the rising profile and broad reach the opera house now enjoys, both in Greece and around the world – a programme that features major opera and ballet productions, as well as art installations and exhibitions, all in a state of creative reciprocity with the history of the opera and dance arts, and with contemporary art practice.
The broad-ranging and artistically appealing programme conceived by Giorgos Koumendakis offers us the chance to enjoy productions of such major works as Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Wagner’s Die Walküre, Puccini’s Turandot and La bohème, Verdi’s La traviata, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Presented alongside these classic operas, that sit in repertory at all the world’s major opera houses, are works that have breathed new life into the opera arts –Brecht and Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and Les Éclairs by Philippe Hersant– as well as the classic ballets Carmen, Coppélia, and The Nutcracker.
Given the programme’s emphasis on the female experience, many of its opera and ballet productions spotlight the struggles of women for social status and advancement through the years, and present new contemporary takes on art’s iconic female characters.
As a cultural organisation of international standing, the Greek National Opera is working –on an equal footing and to great success– with major counterpart institutions around the world, such as the Opéra Comique in Paris and the Royal Danish Opera, as well as with NEON for the third commission of The Artist on the Composer programme.
Furthermore, as one of Greece’s leading cultural organisations, the Greek National Opera seeks to showcase the work and achievements of leading lights in the world of Greek music. To this end, it is presenting two unknown pieces by Manolis Kalomiris that honour his links to the GNO, and –as part of the celebrations for the 2023 UNESCO Maria Callas Anniversary proposed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports– the GNO is also marking the centennial anniversary of the great soprano’s birth with a tribute to her invaluable legacy featuring a wide range of events that culminate in the Callas at the Herodium opera gala at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where her star blazed bright across two separate eras of her performance career in Greece.
But the GNO is not limiting its Callas tribute to the opera arts. The organisation will also be exploring her persona by means of a major exhibition at the National Library of Greece titled Unboxing Callas: An Archival Exploration of the Dimitris Pyromallis Collection and the GNO Archive, and through the new documentary film Mary, Mariana, Maria – The Unsung Greek Years of Callas. In both these instances, contemporary art practice is providing expansive access to Callas’ world, and to the legend that surrounds her, and offering the general public –and young people in particular– the chance to re-evaluate both her life and her career within the international opera scene in manifold ways.
From among the many deserving productions that comprise this comprehensive GNO season programme, I would like to draw particular attention to the Second Sacred Music Festival to be presented at monuments, museums, and churches in the Athens city centre. The first edition of this festival, held at Orthodox Eastertime in 2022, drew exceptionally large crowds thanks to its fresh and unexpected artistic engagement with the rites and rituals of Holy Week, and I am delighted to see it continue.
I would like, once again, to thank GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis and his associates for continuing to nurture the momentum and international outreach of the Greek National Opera with constancy, inspiration, and visionary action, and for showcasing Greece’s creative potential and contemporary art practice both at home and further afield.
Greek Minister of Culture and Sports
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