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A painter adds his own hues to tango’s palette February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Juan Caceres has created a tango hybrid
 
Juan Carlos Caceres, a tango legend who began his career in Paris in the late 1960s, is at the Greek capital’s Half Note Jazz Club this week for a run of shows through Thursday.

Singing, and playing piano and trombone, Caceres is joined on stage by Sedef Ercetin (cello), Frederic Truet (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Javier Estrella (cajon, bombo, vocals) and Marcelo Russillo (drums, cajo). The performances combine traditional tango forms, such as the milonga, candombe and habanera, with the sensuous French new wave.

The charismatic Caceres was born in Buenos Aires in 1936 and moved to Paris in order to pursue a career as a painter. Although he is well established as a visual artist, it was his music that really launched him on the international scene. Even though his recording output is limited, Caceres is easily ranked among the most influential propagators of tango music. Based on the classic tango idiom and inflected with jazz and chanson brushstrokes, Caceres’s music also brings together African rhythms and the Argentinean tradition to create a new sound that stands somewhere between the classicism of Carlos Gardel and modernity of Astor Piazzolla.

For the past 10 years, Caceres has turned all of his attention to his music, enriching it with a more cosmopolitan air and highlighting the narrative and emotional aspects of tango music.

At the Half Note Jazz Club, Athens, tel 210 9213310.

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A true 21st century diva plays wicked Abigaille February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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Ukranian soprano Maria Guleghina in GNO’s ‘Nabucco’

Maria Guleghina and Ivan Momirov star in National Opera’s production of Verdi’s ‘Nabucco.’ This production of the famous opera has taken on a modern perspective and interpretation.

Maria Guleghina has given over 100 performances at the New York Metropolitan Opera and is the only living soprano to have sung in 14 new productions at Milan’s La Scala. The Ukrainian singer, who claims to have Verdi running though her veins, is today one of the greatest divas on the international opera scene and will be in Athens performing the role of Abigaille in the National Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Nabucco”.

Guleghina, a rich and emotional interpreter, is made of the same stuff as the legendary divas that came before her and has fought her way to the top, from the time she was a child in Odessa.

The soprano admits to getting into scraps with the boys in her neighborhood and returning home to hide her cuts and bruises from her parents. The next morning, when her mother would find traces of blood on her bedsheets, the doctor would be summoned to tend to her wounds. “My father didn’t want me getting into fights and arguments,” she reminisces. “But, he also said: ‘If you have to fight, you either have to win or be brave enough to lose. You can’t come back home crying.’”

It is of little surprise that a person with such gumption is not intimidated by a role such as the bellicose Abigaille. “The hardest thing of all is to play the bad guy,” says Guleghina of the role of King Nabucco’s foster daughter who tries to usurp his throne.

As far as the sacrifices an opera singer has to make to meet the rising demands of the stage today, she says: “It’s like asking a fish if it finds swimming hard. Does it ever think about it? It doesn’t.”

“Every person has a cross to bear. My voice is my cross and my paradise. It’s my hell, my prison, my kingdom, my everything.” What is her hell? “I’ll give you one image,” says Guleghina. “I am here in Athens, and it’s fantastic, because my career requires it. My son, Ruslan, is back home in Luxembourg, thousands of kilometers away from his mother. Is that enough?”

The celebrated soprano also agrees that the modern audience has become more exacting in what it demands from an opera singer. “It is correct for the audience to want to see an interpreter who is not just a piece of furniture with a charismatic voice but also more than that: a regular person with good movement. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

At the Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461. Tonight, March 2 and 4.

Strong colors and vast spaces in an artist’s retrospective February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Among the exhibits is ‘The View’ (2005), 100x100cm, acrylics, from the artist’s collection.

The fiery red color that covers a 3-meter-high painting, one of the latest works by the artist Costas Paniaras, makes an apt epilogue to an exhibition bursting with strong, primary colors. In that same four-panel painting, an elegantly shaped blue band runs across the composition, creating a chromatic contrast that further enhances each color’s effect. At the opposite end of the exhibition, a similar painting, this time covered in blue, features a neon-like green, elongated form that stretches from one side to the next.

Bold chromatic juxtapositions and luminous, strong colors are among the predominant features in the artist’s retrospective exhibition at the Benaki Museum. More than color, what probably stays with the viewer is a feeling for space and a sense of vastness. Paniaras is a painter of boundless spaces and expansive chromatic fields. Best known for his abstract seascapes or self-seascapes is what he prefers to call them, he uses sweeping brushstrokes and powerful colors, each in its full range of hues, to capture the macrocosm.

Abstract shapes suggest the horizon emerging faraway in the sea, an island perhaps, or that point where the sea meets the sky. Paniaras allows his viewer a full, encompassing view, thus making him indirectly aware of his position in the broader scheme of things. At the same time, the closeup images of waves eradicates the sense of distance and creates an enveloping effect.

The exhibition covers 50 years of work yet it is relatively small, compact and homogeneous. Blues and reds mixed with dabs of shimmering silver or gold hues prevail throughout Paniaras’s work, including his paintings and the painted-over sculptures from the 1980s, of which “Saint Sebastian” is one of the best-known. A series of relief, pleated forms on a canvas stand in between painting and sculpture.

The works that Paniaras made in the 1960s differ in style. Painted in earthy tones and most of them in relief, they are abstract shapes that resemble microorganisms. At the beginning of his career back then, Paniaras was living in Paris, he came back to Greece 20 years after he left, and was one of the artists featured at the Iolas gallery.

His travels in Asia and India in the late 1960s are said to have had had a profound effect on the colors that he subsequently used in his work. Mark Rothko, whose work he had seen in New York, is another influence.

In Greece, his work has become associated with a generation of painters who rose to prominence here during the 1980s. His style, however, does not enjoy the popularity it once did. The Benaki exhibition is an occasion to appraise the artist’s work amid changing tastes.

“Paniaras, 50 Years of Painting” at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Annex, 138 Pireos Street and Andronikou Street, Athens, tel 210 3453338. To March 18.

Giant ‘green resort’ set for Crete February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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British investors presented plans yesterday for a vast, all-season resort on the Greek island of Crete, describing it as a model of environmently friendly development and among the biggest investments ever on Greek soil.

The project, which includes golf courses, is to be built on land leased from a monastery.

“This is a resort with a difference,” said Christopher Egleton, Chairman of developers Minoan Group Plc, presenting the scheme covering 2,500 hectares (6,175 acres). “There’s nothing like it anywhere in Europe, and I believe in the United States,” he told a news conference in Athens.

The project, costing 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), comprises six stone villages in the traditional Greek style offering five-star accommodation for 7,000 people in Cavo Sidero, a rural coastal area of eastern Crete. Partially operational from 2009, the resort will feature a conference center, sports facilities and golf courses whose water supply will be ensured by an on-site desalination facility, planners said.

“This is one of the greatest projects ever carried out in Greece,” said Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia. “There will be complete respect to the environment and careful management of the local ecosystem,” she added.

Built on land leased for 80 years (40 plus 40) from a local monastery, Moni Toplou, the “Cavo Sidero” project will occupy land protected under the Natura 2000 European Network of key natural habitats.

Greek environmental groups oppose the creation of golf courses which require huge amounts of water for maintenance. Many parts of Greece suffer frequently from drought. United Nations environmental experts have expressed doubts about desalination, as the disposal of the salt can cause further damage to the marine environment.

But Minoan Group says it will work closely with Forum for the Future, a British charity specializing in sustainable development, to protect the land and local fauna. “This is an area quite degraded from overgrazing,” Peter Madden, Forum for the Future’s chief executive, said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in May. The resort is expected to be fully operational by 2017, said the planners, who originally won an international tender for the project in 1995.

Korres’s natural expectations February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Fashion & Style.
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Ten years after the creation of its initial business core, the Korres company is considered one of the most recognizable in the natural cosmetics sector, showing a significant increase in its financial figures and in its presence in foreign markets.

Giorgos Korres, President and CEO of the company, talks about the firm’s plans, its course toward the Athens Stock Exchange and its expectations for further international expansion.

This year you are completing 10 years of activity in the cosmetics sector. What have been the main events over the course of these years for your firm?

The Korres company was set up in 1996 and evolved into an enterprise with its own production installations, considerable market share at pharmacies, we are present at more than 5,000 points, and a remarkable presence abroad. The main development of the company began in 2000, when it crossed the Atlantic, placing its products at stores in New York City. Major moves followed in 2002, with the creation of the flagship store in Chelsea, London, and in 2004 when our cooperation with Sephora started for the chain’s outlets in the USA.

However, I believe that 2006 has been the most important year for us, as this is when the operation of our new installation at Inofyta began and we expanded our exporting activity to China and Japan.

In 2006 you also decided to list the company on the stock market. What are your expectations regarding that move?

Our company has shown considerable growth in recent years and particularly in 2006. Drawing capital will bolster its current growth course, both in Greece and in the particularly demanding market abroad. The funds drawn will be used to further establish the existing Korres Natural Products brand in foreign markets as well as in Greece, along with the creation of a new brand, named Kings & Queens. This new brand of products will be marketed through broader distribution channels domestically and abroad. The firm further aims at investing some of that capital in the research and development of new products, as well as the strengthening of production processes with the installation of new mechanical equipment.

In the 2001-2005 period, the company quadrupled its sales, reaching 17 million euros and pretax profits of 2 million euros. What do you expect from the future course of Korres’s financial figures?

As we are bound by the existing regulations, I cannot refer to financial estimates while we are in the approval process of our listing on the stock exchange. What I can say, though, is that our sales in 2006 were considerably higher than the year before, when they came to 17.06 million euros, while our profits are expected to record an even greater rise, partly due to the increase in profit margins following the start of operations of the new production plants and the promotion of high added-value products.

What percentage of your overall turnover is covered by sales in foreign markets and what is your target for the future?

Today Korres products are available in 30 countries at 1,250 points of sale and there are constant moves for supporting our international presence. In 2005 sales abroad doubled compared with 2003 and accounted for 20 percent of all our sales. Although 2006 figures have not been confirmed yet, we estimate that these markets have shown similar growth rates. If we do what we have to do, then sales abroad will overtake those of domestic ones, which is something I hope I can announce to you within a few years.

Do you think the cosmetics sector, and particularly the specialized products domain, has scope for growth in the Greek market?

Research conducted internationally shows natural cosmetics are gaining the interest of people everywhere and the trust they deserve. In my view this is more than just a trend; it is a certain direction of the market which in essence drives the entire sector toward growth.

Related Links > http://www.korres.com

Panathinaikos takes on Prokom Trefl in Poland February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball.
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Panathinaikos, the front-runner in its Euroleague Top 16 group with two wins from as many games, takes on Prokom Trefl in Poland tonight in what will be the first ever encounter between the two basketball clubs. The Poles have a 1-1 record in Group F.

Greece’s two other Euroleague representatives, namely Olympiakos and Aris, play tomorrow. Olympiakos (1-1) hosts defending champion and Group E leader CSKA Moscow. Aris, last in Group G with two losses, hosts Benetton Treviso (1-1).

Volleyball cup begins tonight February 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Baseball Handball Volleyball.
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Eight top-flight teams will fight for the trophy in Patras, with the final on Saturday > Local volleyball’s Final 8 tournament for the Greek Cup begins today in Patras, western Greece, with two of the competition’s four knockout quarterfinals.

The Greek league’s top eight clubs at the halfway mark of the season qualified for this cup tournament.

The action begins with Iraklis, the defending champion, taking on newly promoted AEK, one of the season’s surprise performers so far, currently in fifth place. Then Panellinios meets league leader Panathinaikos, a three-time cup winner.

“The objective is very clear for us. Success for Panathinaikos means winning the cup and failure means not winning it,” said the club’s coach, Francisco Dos Santos. “I can’t make any predictions about who the finalists will be, but it’s clear that I want my team to be one of the two finalists,” he added.

Panathinaikos has not won the Greek Cup since 1985. Iraklis, a runner-up in the Champions League over the past two seasons, has won the past three successive Greek Cups for a total of five in the club’s history.

In the tournament’s two other quarterfinals, both scheduled for tomorrow, PAOK, one of the more inconsistent performers in domestic competition this year, meets Lamia, another unsteady performer this season, which lost its coach just days ago. Nikos Neofytos, the man who led the provincial team to the country’s top-tier league, resigned last weekend. His successor remains unknown.

In the remaining quarterfinal, Olympiakos, which last won the cup in 2001 and has had to weather numerous coaching and player changes this season, takes on Patras, currently sixth in the league. The Piraeus club lies second in the league.

The draw for the cup’s semifinals will take place tomorrow following the fourth quarterfinal. Both semifinals are scheduled for Friday with the final to be held on Saturday. Organizers have reported high demand for tournament tickets.