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Aristotle Onassis > Man, legacy, myth October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Exhibit throws light on life of ‘the most famous Greek’
‘Women loved Onassis – and not just because of his money.’

A citizen of the world who thrived when traveling through troubled waters, Aristotle Onassis became the most famous Greek of the 20th century. A major exhibition tracing moments of his sensational life offers up a number of clues as to why.

Some 500 photographs and 300 objects make up “Aristotle Onassis: Beyond the Myth” which showcases the maverick businessman’s lust for life. Inaugurated by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday, the exhibition opened at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street branch yesterday.

Organized by the keepers of the Onassis faith, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the exhibition is divided into two: While the bulk of the show is dedicated to the man and the myth, the second part goes beyond, presenting an important part of his legacy, the multifaceted activities of the foundation which was established the year Onassis died and named after Alexander, his only son who had died two years before. This year marks 100 years since Onassis’s birth and 30 since his death.

“We had to honor the man. He became a legend, but to us he was a man, a charming and cultivated person,” said Antonis Papadimitriou, the foundation’s current president, during a preview earlier this week. “The exhibition aims to throw light on the real Onassis as well as today’s reality.”

The Onassis saga remains high on the all-time list of real-life success stories, though it is not strictly a rags-to-riches tale. Aristotle was born to a wealthy family in Smyrna, Asia Minor, in 1906. The family lost everything at the time of the city’s fall in 1922 and eventually settled in Athens. Plans for Aristos to head to Oxford were scrapped; instead, the young man caught a boat to Argentina, taking along the sum of 250 dollars.

In his new adopted country, the emerging businessman’s first investment move was in tobacco. By the time he purchased his first steamship in the early 1930s, Onassis was worth 1 million dollars.

Moving from Buenos Aires to London, New York and Monte Carlo, the restless and fearless Greek developed his tanker empire, founded Olympic Airways, raised a family and fell in love.

“Women loved Onassis – and not just because of his money,” noted Papadimitriou. Sure, there were beauties like Veronica Lake around, yet only three women managed to define his life and times: his first wife and the mother of his two children Christina and Alexandros, Tina Livanos; opera diva Maria Callas, and his final companion and second spouse, Jackie Bouvier-Kennedy.

A man of great passions, Onassis found solace on the island of Skorpios and aboard his refuge at sea, the Christina, a Canadian corvette he turned into the fabulously lavish yacht where he entertained the likes of Winston Churchill and Rudolph Nureyev.

What kind of world did Onassis live in? There were eclectic elements in his life, works by Greek masters Volanakis, Ghyzis and Lytras; rare editions on Greek civilization going back to the 16th century; ship models; 19th century French clocks, but also less valuable, everyday items such as a favorite Maxim’s ashtray.

At the Benaki, visitors also get a glimpse of life aboard the Christina: a Steinway piano used by Callas to practice, complete with a Tosca score and some of the diva’s notes; his desk, glasses and a komboloi (string of worry beads).

The correspondence in the exhibit also throws plenty of light on the man: a letter announcing his intention to donate his monthly wages as deputy consul general of Greece to the Buenos Aires Greek community, tender words by Jackie, and passionate words from Maria on his birthday.

There were lots of happy times, on display at the Benaki are photos of Tina and the children and the evening bag Callas chose on their first date, but there were also also the omnipresent tragedies: One can view a blood-stained handkerchief belonging to Alexandros, found following the plane accident which claimed his life.

Active in both charity and business, the foundation today manages the Olympic shipping firm, made up of 18 tankers. In addition to shipping, the foundation handles a number of Onassis assets.

The foundation established in 1980 international prizes for outstanding accomplishment. So far, the foundation has given over 4,000 scholarships worth 38 million dollars.

The Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center was completed in 1992 and has been bequeathed to the Greek state. The Alexander S. Onassis Affiliated Public Benefit Foundation sponsors scholars lecturing in the United States and Canada. The Onassis Cultural Center is located at the foundation’s New York headquarters, the Olympic Tower.

One of the foundation’s major projects today is the House of Letters and Arts, currently under construction on Syngrou Avenue. This is where persian blinds made of marble will one day open to reveal a 900-seat state-of-the-art theater (plus another, smaller in size), as well as an exhibition hall and much more. Scheduled for completion at the end of 2008, the center’s aim is to promote (and export) contemporary Greek culture.

While the Benaki exhibition covers a good amount of Onassis history, past and present, there is one aspect of the legacy that it cannot foresee. Hanging on one of the walls in the exhibit is a photo of Athina, the wife of Brazilian equestrian Alvaro de Miranda Neto and granddaughter of Aristotle. Her own destiny in the Onassis adventure remains to be seen.

Benaki Museum, Pireos Street annex, 138 Pireos & Andronikou street, tel 210 3453111. The exhibition runs to November 12.


Opera legend gives her first Athens show October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will perform in Athens tonight.

In her first official visit to Athens, world-renowned opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is scheduled to perform at the Herod Atticus Theater tonight. Having sung in Olympia and Patras in the past, the New Zealand-born diva, who has only been in Athens on holiday so far, will unravel her talent accompanied by the Serbian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Julian Reynolds.

Making her breakthrough as the Countess in Mozart’s popular opera “Le Nozze di Figaro” in 1971, Te Kanawa has, to this day, worked with acclaimed orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as distinguished conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis and Zubin Mehta among others. Her recordings include most well-known operas, but she has also released albums with songs by Gershwin, traditional Maori songs and American musicals. She sang the part of Maria in the so-called “operatic version” of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” in 1985, a production which won a Grammy Award.

Te Kanawa has received many distinctions and awards and was also named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982. In 1981 she sang Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim” at the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, an event which approximately 600 million people watched around the world.

“Why did it take me so long to come to Athens? Because I wasn’t invited!” said the 62-year-old opera singer at a press conference held in Athens on Wednesday.

Tonight’s program will consist of highlights from her career, arias from famous operas, including “Carmen” and “Le Nozze di Figaro”, but also excerpts from musicals by Bernstein, Gershwin and others. Unfortunately, local audiences will not have the opportunity to listen to her perform any of the traditional Maori songs.

“I sing them many times, but not this time,” she said. While revealing that she plans to spend her time in Athens doing lots of shopping, she also said she was very excited to perform at the Herod Atticus, which she described as “one of the most famous skylines in the world.”

In 2004, she founded a charity organization to help upcoming vocalists in Auckland. “The foundation is for singers who are already advanced in their careers and they have to be of exceptional talent. We do not start from a very young age,” she pointed out.

Although she supports aspiring singers and has run workshops in various colleges, she said she is not really keen on introducing younger vocalists by inviting them to perform with her on stage, even though she did that in Iceland last year. “It is a nice idea, but sometimes they are too nervous. It is hard to present someone who is not used to standing up in front of 2,000 people,” she explained.

She expressed her firm belief that opera is not a dying art but can look forward to a good future, despite the fact that at times it may seem that it is not in good hands. An opera career though requires many sacrifices, as she pointedly added. “I look after myself, I don’t smoke, shout or go to parties,” she said. “For such a career you cannot have any abuse.”

When asked about her favorite aria, she said she did not have one. “I have been asked this many times. Whatever I’m singing is my favorite, because I don’t have any ‘unfavorites.’ If I did, I wouldn’t be singing them,” she said.

London-born conductor Julian Reynolds has toured with Te Kanawa in Europe and the Far East and has collaborated with various orchestras across the world. Founded in 1937, the Serbian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra is one of Serbia’s most prominent music ensembles. It has successfully toured around various European countries as well as Morocco and has enjoyed collaborations with conductors like Mstislav Rostropovich and Vladimir Fedoseyev.

For tickets contact the Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3272000 or the Elva company, tel 210 6728079.

Love affair with a dress October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style.
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Her hat was an Edwardian confection; her dress belonged to the 1920s. But by the time a remote control had activated high-tech mechanics, the dress had rolled up to disappear inside the hat and the model was left in her birthday suit.

Hussein Chalayan’s show, with its pretty dress and techno magic, excited various emotions. It recalled past collections, when Chalayan had used a veiled head and naked body to make a political statement and the time he morphed a table into a skirt to suggest a nomadic displacement.

But the Cyprus-born British designer proved with a stylish, modern collection how much he has matured, being able to absorb his complex thoughts and present them in an uncomplicated way.

The designer also focused on the one incontrovertibly strong story of the spring/summer season: a love affair with the dress.

The back story of Chalayan’s show was the century-long history of his sponsor, the crystal company Swarovski. But that was just an excuse to make glancing reference to the past, while setting his fashion sights on the present and the future.

The Edwardian outfit that opened the show was followed by 1920s flappers and the metallic effects of the 1960s. But the focus was on dresses that were graceful, pretty and peaceful. Even the techno wizardry, when it came, had a light-hearted elegance, as did other kooky ideas like simple dresses decorated with big pearls or giant plastic bubbles. And where other designers are showing any color as long as it is white, Chalayan’s subtle palette included moss green, purple and yellow that looked both artistic and sophisticated.

With such an exceptional designer, you have to wonder why all the investors searching for “new” talent don’t look at Chalayan’s oeuvre and give him the big backing he deserves.

Given that her collection was given over to baby’s playsuits, baggy shorts/overalls roomy enough to contain a cloth diaper, it was easy to see that Stella McCartney, a young mother expecting her second baby, was the role model for Thursday’s show.

But to give McCartney her due, she was playing with volumes before her current personal situation. She said backstage, where her father, Paul McCartney, was giving her moral support, that her idea was to get the big shapes under control.

“I’m trying to balance the volume against the linear – using the volume for sleeves,” said the designer.

So out came slender dresses with fabric duly puffed at the sleeves. And when she did play with the volumes, like a kid with toys, the generous shapes were set against skinny tailoring or they were bisected with blocks of swirling print.

The result was a merry show, cool more for its pumping soundtrack and the presence of the music superstar Kanye West (hiding behind his hoodie) than for the clothes. A mild sports theme ran through the show, perhaps inspired by the McCartney/Adidas connection. In that category, a shiny satin jogging suit stood out.

The playsuits seemed weird; the gathered shorts more realistic; the dresses, nice enough, but with more than a hint of Chloe or Lanvin. But, hey!, the models smiled, which is fashion news in itself.

Loewe is a Spanish leather house with a noble heritage, but it is in search of a fashion identity.

You could not help feeling, as sturdy, luxurious bags came out along with nice but unremarkable clothing, that this house, owned by LVMH (Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), ought to hold the same position as Bottega Veneta in the Gucci Group: a house where the clothing line grows organically from the image of the classy, exceptionally crafted handbags.

But the collection sent out by José Enrique Ona Selfa just looked like any other volume-conscious show on the current runways: lots of trapeze dresses, predominantly white, although with a few striking sunburst prints. Tricky cowl collars and scarf-wraps on the head added a fancy touch but the more intriguing work was on leather, worked with tiny silver stitches.

The rope-effect bags were fine. But there was no visible or emotional connection – at least as they appeared on the runway – between the clothing and the accessories. Nor did the show resonate as intrinsically Spanish, leaving Loewe floating free in a luxury world without much to anchor it in time or place.

At Celine, it was the “alphabet soup” recipe for design: “A” is for accessories, the heart of the house; “B” for a bow at the waist, a buckled belt and the new basket-shaped bags; “C” for crystal sparkles and so on to “L” for lightness, “O” for organza, “P” for platform sandals and “T” for that show-your-underpants transparency that looks sexy on runways but that no one ever wears.

This trend-driven show was snappily done by Ivana Omazic, whose tough chic daytime sportswear, with sleek, pale trench coats, was more appealing than the evening fragility.

And, of course, “D” for dress had its place here, as everywhere else.

Austrian Nights at the Hilton Cyprus October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus.
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Modern Austria, the homeland of world well-known skiers, talented musicians and lovers of table etiquette, is also treasured by people who are keen on cooking, eating, and drinking well.

The Austrian cuisine, which is often mistakenly associated with Viennese cuisine, derives from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a cuisine in general, it is the gastronomic reflection of an ethnically mixed people who have exchanged culinary expertise with Swiss, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, German, Hungarian, Polish, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Serbian, and Jewish cuisine.

Austria boasts one of the world’s most famous culinary traditions. A diverse yet delectably harmonious range of dishes reflects the city’s mix of nationalities and food cultures through the centuries, and inspires visitors from all over the globe.

Hilton Cyprus, in cooperation with Austrian Airlines, revive the Austrian hospitable atmosphere through its cuisine, traditions and culture during the theme festival organised by the hotel from October 9 to 14.

Enjoy your afternoon tea with Austrian delights at the Lobby Lounge and take pleasure in the culinary Austrian recipes at the Fontana restaurant; the appetizing buffet menu, prepared by the Hilton Cyprus, offers a wide variety of salads such as “carrots in honey” with orange dressing, main courses with Vienna style schnitzel, side dishes and mouth-watering desserts such as “sacher” cake and apple strudel.

The Austrian gastronomic week, with classical music, is available daily. Afternoon tea is served from 4.30pm at CYP 6.10 per person; and Buffet dinner is served from 8pm at CYP 16.50per person, including a glass of Austrian wine. Guests will also eneter a raffle to win a weekend accommodation for two in Vienna including airfare provided by Austrian Airlines.

Yeroskipou golf course, Limassol marina, casino studies underway October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus News, Tourism.
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Work is expected to get underway any day now on the first golf course in Yeroskipou, near Paphos, while two studies have already been commissioned and reviewed on the issue of starting a casino in Cyprus.

Senior officials at the Cyprus Tourism Organisation said that contacts are underway with large corporations involved with the casino business and the next meetings are scheduled for October, after which the government will decide how to proceed.

“Cyprus needs a casino and Cyprus can accommodate a casino,” said CTO Chairman Panos Englezos, who added that the plan is for a major investment in order to have a comprehensive resort, not just a gaming parlour.

The new golf course in Yeroskipou will not comply with requirements for subsidies, but the CTO Chairman said that plans for six new golf courses have been pre-approved.

Meanwhile, a contract is also expected to be signed for the development of a marina in Limassol.

Speaking at a press conference to mark International Tourism Day and the 35 years of CTO, Panos Englezos said that the Tourism Development Strategy for 2003-2010, which was prepared with the participation of all involved parties, must continue to be the basis of all actions and activities.

He said this year’s International Day theme of “Tourism Enriches” is very successful, especially for Cyprus, if one considers the role tourism plays in the island’s economy.

Englezos said revenue from tourism surpassed CYP 1 billion in 2005 and is expected to be even higher this year.

He also mentioned the promotion of specialised sectors of the tourism market, such as sports, conference, countryside, religious and golfing tourism, adding that efforts had also been productive in the internal tourism sector. Despite the extraordinary fall in tourist arrivals this year, the CTO chairman said he was confident there would be a recovery by the end of the year.

“The greatest fall was recorded in August, probably due to the crisis in neighbouring Lebanon and that all everybody would see on their television sets were evacuation through Cyprus, giving the impression that the troubles were nearer to the island,” he said.

Cyprus eyes religious tourism October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences, Tourism.
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Religious tourism to Cyprus will receive a boost from the hosting of the island’s first international conference for religious tourism later this month, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said yesterday.

The conference is being organised from October 19-21 by the CTO in co-operation with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

It aims at bringing together stakeholders and organisations involved in the field, as well as focus on key issues and provide networking opportunities for interested parties. An array of speakers from all over the world, experts in the field of religious tourism, will be participating.

Topics to be covered will include the development of special interest tourism, best practices, new trends and the respect and protection of places of worship. The programme will also include technical visits to sites of religious and cultural significance.

The underlying perspective is global, but with a particular focus on similarities and differences between regions of the world, representing various phases of development, systems, cultural, societal and environmental conditions.

“Cyprus is the ideal staring point. The Byzantine churches of Cyprus with their important architecture, iconography, mosaics, murals and rare icons, the chapels and shrines of the countryside, the monasteries speak for the intense dedication to traditions and the close interconnection of art with religious worship through the centuries. The visitor also has the
opportunity to come across buildings and places of worship belonging to other doctrines and religions, which co-exist in a continuous dialogue promoting the rare historic and cultural palimpsest of Cyprus,” a news release said.

A CTO spokesman said religious tourism had always been an important market for Cyprus, but it has been moved up the priority ladder in the past two or three years as part of the CTO’s strategic plan for tourism.

“We believe this will be a very important conference and is going to be a boost for religious tourism to the island,” said the spokesman.

Irish President to watch Irish team in Cyprus October 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Football.
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Irish President Mary McAleese arrives in Cyprus on October 7 for an official visit, during which she will hold talks with President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos. According to the programme of the visit, McAleese arrives at Larnaca Airport on October 7 at 1400 local time (1100 GMT) on a special flight. She will be welcomed by Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Photis Photiou and by the spouse of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barbara Lillikas.

At 1910 McAleesse, escorted by President Papadopoulos, will visit the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, where they will watch the football match between the national teams of Cyprus and Ireland for the qualifying round of the European Football Cup.

On October 8, McAleese will visit Kykkos Monastery and the Tomb of Archbishop Makarios III at Throni.

McAleese will attend at 1945 a private dinner at President Papadopoulos’ residence.

On October 9 at 1000 an official welcoming ceremony will be held at the Presidential Palace, during which the Irish President and the Cypriot President will take up positions facing the flags of their two countries, while the band plays the National Anthems of the two countries.

McAleese will then proceed to the inspection of the Guard of Honour and lay a wreath at the statue of the late President of the Republic of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III. A moment of silence will be observed.

President Papadopoulos and McAleese will then introduce each other their delegations and will enter the Presidential Palace, where at 1010 they will have a brief meeting.

Official talks will begin at 1020 between the Irish President, the Cypriot President and their delegations.

Statements to the press will be made at 1110, after which McAleese will depart for the House of Representatives, where at 1140 she will meet with House President Demetris Christofias.

McAleese will meet at 1210 at the Town Hall Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zampellas, who will present her with the Golden Key of the City. McAleese, escorted by Zampellas, will visit the old city and the ceasefire line.

At 1330, McAleese will attend a lunch hosted by Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas.

McAleese will at 1715 depart for the University of Cyprus, where she will be welcomed by the Cypriot President. McAleese will give a speech on ”Europe’s new Horizons: an Irish perspective.”

At 2100 McAleese and her delegation will attend a state banquet hosted by President Papadopoulos at the Presidential Palace.

On October 10, McAleese will visit the Cyprus Archaeological Museum, where she will have a guided tour.

McAleese will attend at 1200 a reception by the Irish Ambassador to Cyprus.

At 1515 McAleese will have a brief meeting at the Presidential Palace with President Papadopoulos, after which an official seeing off ceremony will be held with the band playing the National Anthems of the Republic of Cyprus and of Ireland, followed by an inspection of the Guard of Honour by the Irish President.

McAleese will arrive at Larnaca Airport at 1620, where Lillikas will bid her farewell. The Irish President will depart from the island on a special flight scheduled for 1650 local time.