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Greek production of Clytemnestra’s Tears at La Mama April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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La Mama will host Avra Sidiropoulou’s Clytemnestra’s Tears, produced by the Persona Theatre Company from Greece, for a three-week limited engagement May 17-June 3.

Clytemnestra’s Tears is directed by Sidiropoulou and performed by Themis Bazaka. The production will be presented in Greek, with English supertitles.

The work was first presented in 2001 as a staged reading at the Donnell Library Auditorium in New York’s Public Library, starring Kristin Linklater. The first full production was staged at the Dipylon Theater in Athens, starring the Greek actress Themis Bazaka. A tri-lingual version was presented in Istanbul, funded by the European Union.

According to press notes, Clytemnestra’s Tears “is based on the primal myth of the House of Atreus and the archetypical female character of Clytemnestra. In a dangerous landscape in which she quivers with desire and remembrance, Clytemnestra relives the tragic moments of her life: her daughter Iphigenia’s sacrifice, the separation from her children and the murder of Agamemnon, her husband. In an attempt to atone for her crimes in the eyes of her children, her people, the gods and ultimately the spectators, she must confront the relentless chase of the Furies.”

The play features set design by Eva Manidaki, lighting design by Maria Cristina Fuste, costume design by Ioanna Tsami, original music score by Vanias Apergis and choreography by Margarita Mandaka. The production is backed by the Hellenic Culture Organization and sponsored by the Onassis Foundation.

Founded in 2003, Persona Theatre Company “aims to remain faithful to the spirit of classical texts and approach them in such a way as to illuminate some of their still unrevealed sides, bringing them closer to today’s audiences,” according to press notes.

The production will play La Mama E.T.C.’s First Floor Theater at 74A East 4th Street, between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lamama.org or by calling the box office at (212) 475-7710.


Box-office hit to wow Athens > ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Live Gigs.
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1970s rock-opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ playing for first time in Greece, at the Badminton Theater

rock_opera.jpg  Cito Otto’s performance as Jesus has played a significant role in the worldwide success of the popular rock-opera.

It has gone down in history as the first hippie version of the Passion Play, and since its 1971 premiere, when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” took the world by storm, it has become a classic. The rock opera is now to be performed in Greece for the first time, starting on April 18 at the Badminton Theater in Goudi, in what producers promise will be a very different production to the 1970s original.

When “Jesus Christ Superstar” first went on stage on Broadway in 1971, it made a definite splash: Christ was depicted as a chilled-out, blue-eyed hippie, his disciples were flower children, the performance was psychedelic to the max, with rock and funk music featuring strongly, and it contained numerous references to the anti-Vietnam War movement of the time. Furthermore, the role of the Virgin Mary is blatantly absent and Jesus’s relationship with Mary Magdalene is closer to the approach taken in the Gospel of Judas. While the inspired show faithfully follows historic record in terms of Jesus’s final days, from his arrival in Jerusalem to his death, it does not include the Resurrection, but ends, instead, with Jesus on the cross. The success of the stage musical was such that two years later, in 1973, filmmaker Norman Jewison transported it to the silver screen, grossing box-office sales of 8.6 million dollars in its first year.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is loved by some and hated by others. It has been tagged as being heretical, religious groups were vocally against it and it was banned in South Africa for several years, and a classic cult phenomenon. Yet “Jesus Christ Superstar” continues to play on Broadway and in London’s West End today. It has been staged in 15 countries, among them Kenya, Mexico, Zimbabwe and Israel, and in 1992 a Japanese kabuki production of the musical was put on at the Dominion Theater in London. “Jesus Christ Superstar” is the fifth longest-running performance in London’s West End.

The production that will be staged at Athens’s Badminton Theater has little to do with bell-bottoms, muumuus and long lanky hair. Many of the musical’s scenes have been transported to a contemporary setting, while Herod resembles a Las Vegas showman, the Romans are clad in black leather and the Sanhedrin convenes in a space that looks like a World War II German bunker.

The production is directed by Paul Warwick Griffin, who has in the past played Jesus in three separate productions of the musical, and who has also directed a plethora of big-budget productions such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Evita,” “The Madness of King George III” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” among others. Currently serving as a resident director at the Old Vic in London, Griffin also served as assistant director to Andrew Lloyd Webber for four years during the world tour of “Cats.”

The performance by American actor Cito Otto as Jesus has also played a significant role in the musical’s recent success, Otto made his debut on the musical stage in this very part, while rave reviews have been received for Judas Iscariot as performed by Robert Finlayson, a seasoned performer whose resume includes “Fame,” “Hair,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon.” Last, but not least, Mary Magdalene is played by Gina Shmukler, who received the national theater’s best performance in a musical award for “The Blues Brothers” in her native South Africa.

The modern feel of the performance is largely due to the impressive set and costume designs by Keith Anderson. Anderson prior to his arrival in the Greek capital, was asked  to explain his approach in this new production. The key, he says, “was the need for a set that could be adapted to all the different theaters around the world where the performances will be staged. Some stages require something more intimate and direct, others allow more epic proportions. We needed a multilevel stage so that we would not have to limit the number of dancers,” he said.

According to Anderson, the question of how the production would be adapted to the original form of the musical was never an issue. “It was never a problem,” he says. “This is my third job as a set designer in a production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ Generally, what we do is to listen to the music and imagine how the plot can be adapted to the present.”

On the matter of costumes, Anderson always keeps in mind that the action is supposed to take place in the same period as the New Testament, but it approaches that time as a “timeless period that encompasses past, present and future. We try to imagine what our characters would have worn in Biblical times. But, you will also see them wearing a lot of modern clothes. Wherever necessary, we armed ourselves with quite a bit of daring imagination.”

Anderson notes that the costumes he has designed are light outfits that “could be worn by young people in any century. At times, we wanted to be visually provocative and, at others, we simply wanted to incorporate certain costumes into the performance without letting them steal the limelight.” The designer sees his participation in this particular musical as “humbling. This play is above all of us.”

Badminton Theater, Goudi Military Park, Athens, tel 210 8840600. Ticket prices range from 38-68 euros. Online reservations can be made at www.ticketnet.gr.

MySpace, MyVoice from Down Under April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Music Life Greek.
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Ever thought you were destined to be a rock star? Or maybe you pictured yourself as the next Grant Smilie, mixing your way to the top? Well, why wait? MySpace.com is the latest in internet websites giving artists the chance to play their music to over 43 million people, all day, everyday.

Starting off as just a small cyber community where people on opposite sides of the world could log on and chat, MySpace.com has quickly become the third most visited web domain on earth, and also a powerful musical stage for the today’s musicians.

Many young Greek artists are using their MySpace.com accounts to connect with other musicians and build a fan base around the globe. For some it’s just about sharing their music with people who share their passion, for others it’s about chasing the ultimate rock star dream…. Fame, fortune and a record label.

Mark Spanoudakis, a.k.a. MySpace.com/Kreon, started moving in the underground dance music scene in late 2000. In 2005 he released his first vinyl with the Greek based label Rhythmetic Records and is currently working on a new album to be released in 2007. Mark’s profile on MySpace.com has drawn over 11,000 visitors since it was first created. Visitors to his site are free to read his comments, view upcoming events and download his tracks. Although Mark is already signed with a record label, the flexibility offered by MySpace.com allows him to reach audiences he would otherwise be unable to access.

“MySpace.com is a powerful weapon for free publicity. Back in the days when I first started producing music the only way to get a name for yourself was to send a promotional copy of your finished songs to radio stations and record labels,” he said. “You can imagine how hard it was for me living in Greece, where dance music has only just started getting big, wanting to release music that was massive in other countries. “With MySpace.com even if you’re not in the country that is the centre of the music that you’re interested in, you can easily use the MySpace.com player to upload your music and the fans and labels will find you. “It’s like an automatic record label without the time and money usually associated with band developments.”

With over 13,000 friends currently logged on to his MySpace.com account who instantly receive updates of any new music downloads, Mark’s days of sending promotional CD’s to radio stations are over.

However it’s not just new artists that are using MySpace.com to promote their music, many high profile Greek singers, ranging from Anna Vissi to Kaiti Garbi, are also jumping on the MySpace.com highway finding it an easier way to connect with new fans, whilst also providing old fans with a central meeting place.

marina_angelou.jpg  One of these stars is 24-year-old Greek-Australian singer, Marina Aggelou. Marina began performing in local Community Clubs around Sydney before releasing her debut Greek single “Na M’Agapas Tora”, a Giannis Katevas cover. The single sold in excess of 12,000 copies making her the only Greek Australian artist to receive a gold single status with a foreign song at the age of sixteen.

She left Australia to pursue her career in Cyprus and Greece and has since worked with many of Greece’s best performers, touring with the likes of Ellie Kokinou, Vassilis Karras and Thanos Petrelis. Although she has become an international star at such a young, Marina still believes in the importance of being able to connect with her fans on a personal level and this is where MySpace comes in.

As she is constantly on tour, the Internet gives her the opportunity to speak to her fans wherever she may be. Marina’s International Manager, Steve Dally, believes MySpace.com is an effective publicity tool. In fact, DB Media Management has a whole team devoted to updating their clients MySpace.com as well as searching the site for the ‘nest big hit’. Steve strongly believes that MySpace.com has been a great networking tool for artists like Marina, with strong international fan bases.

“MySpace.com/marinaaggelou has been great in terms of being able to interact with her fans, promoting shows and pretty much keeping everyone up to date with what’s going on in her life,” he said. “As soon as her first record becomes available MySpace.com will play a major role in promoting it. We are already in discussions about premiering her record on MySpace.com first before it is released to the public. “The partnerships that are in place now not only for Greece but the UK and USA are something we didn’t expect so early. MySpace.com has been extremely helpful in making it possible”.

Mr Dally is so impressed with MySpace.com as a publicity medium, it has now become part of the criteria at DB Media Management that all artists must have a MySpace.com. Any artist wanting to develop a fan base cannot go past the resources MySpace.com offers in terms of wide scale publicity at the touch of a button. “Any artists that are about to enter the industry or are all ready in the industry should have a MySpace.com, because you never know who is going to listen to it,” Mr Dally said. “Look at how many acts over the last few years have become major artists, to name a few Linkin Park, Sandi Thom ( I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker). “She actually used to stream live performances from her living room to a global audience once a month before she became a hit. “Gone are the days of begging to get a break and even then you get nowhere. Myspace.com has revolutionised the music business and has given many artists and acts the exposure without the big traditional marketing dollars normally paid by major labels.”

MySpace.com is well on its way to taking over the music industry. If you’re a budding artists or a seasoned act do yourself a favour and check out the site, you never know, it could even make you famous.

The Met’s new Greek and Roman galleries April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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The Met’s new Greek and Roman galleries are perfect for scholars and Byronic dreamers alike.

In 1870, the Met acquired its very first work of art, an ancient Roman sarcophagus, though it didn’t make it to the museum till around 1874. The large marble coffin, which dates back to A.D. 200 to 225, was found in Turkey in 1863 and is decorated with Medusa heads, garlands of oak leaves, Cupids, and Victories. The sarcophagus was first exhibited at the Met’s old location on West 14th Street. At one point, it even served as a collection box into which visitors could deposit coins.

Ancient Greece is traditionally regarded as the muse of Western culture. “The dome of Thought,” wrote Lord Byron, as he contemplated the ruins of a Greek temple, “the Palace of the Soul.” Not surprisingly, the early leaders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art emphasized classical art. Visitors entered a museum resembling a temple. They were met by two out-flung architectural arms: To the right lay Pharaonic Egypt, to the left Greece and Rome. Then, at mid-century, in an action that now seems farcical, a Met director who didn’t much care for classical art turned the centerpiece of the Greek and Roman galleries, an atrium designed by McKim, Mead & White that evoked the garden of a Roman villa into an undistinguished restaurant. The Met suddenly looked gimpy. Its Egyptian arm might still beckon nobly, but Greece and Rome heralded a clink-and-clatter cafeteria. The Egyptians offered food for the soul, the Greeks served up tuna-fish platters.

This historical injustice has now been redressed. Next week, in the environs of the original McKim, Mead & White atrium, the Met will open the last rooms of its spectacular redesign of the Greek and Roman galleries, the conclusion of a fifteen-year project overseen by the Met’s chief curator of classical art, Carlos Picón. The new galleries contain, in addition to well-known works, about 6,000 objects previously in storage. Now, when viewers enter the museum and look left, they will see a glimmer of light at the end of a grand hallway, an invitation to enter the classical world. As they walk down the navelike space, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Gallery, illuminated with natural light, opened in 1999, they will come upon Greek sculpture from the sixth to the fourth century B.C. and eventually arrive at the massive column from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis. Just beyond is the new Leon Levy and Shelby White Court, the focal point of the just-opened galleries.

The Levy court remains faithful in spirit to the original, classically inspired McKim, Mead & White design. Its atrium rises two stories under a glass skylight; about twenty Roman sculptures dating from the first century B.C. to the second century A.D. stand on a new, handsomely patterned marble floor. The court has neither the fey, ironic quality of most postmodern architecture nor the staginess of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s copycat Roman villa in Los Angeles. It’s simple. It’s stately. It evokes but does not imitate a Roman garden. A fountain, modern, but with a classical accent, adds an ageless melody. Nothing looks as it did before: The art seems to have emerged from a dull yellow basement light, shaking off museum dust. On the mezzanine level is the Met’s collection of Etruscan art, along with a state-of-the-art study gallery containing secondary objects, whose showpiece is a chariot from the sixth century B.C. decorated with scenes from the life of Achilles. The chariot is both a scholar’s delight and a boy’s dream.

Most presentations of classical art look bloodless: too many stiff poses, too much white marble. “The Greeks,” de Kooning liked to say, “hid behind their columns.” Of course, the ancients actually painted their marble, often with a kind of vital, garish delight. The new galleries convey better than the earlier ones did that existential tang. The ghostly and Platonic are fascinating, but someday I’d love to see a serious show that captures the chaotic visionary impulse of classical civilization: something mad, color-drenched, and Dionysian. Off the main court are galleries, filled with domestic objects, that include the two magnificent bedrooms the Met owns from villas near Pompeii. One is a celebration of profusion, all vivid color and playful perspective, the other an elegant study in minimalist black in which small diaphanous landscapes float dreamily in the darkness. The difference between the rooms conveys, pungently, how varied style and fashion could be in the Roman world. The fresco from the reception hall of the villa at Boscoreale contains, incidentally, one of the most powerful images of a woman in the museum. She’s an undainty bride, boldly painted, firmly planed, who rests her head on one hand and stares thoughtfully into the distance. She has a presence as forceful as that of Picasso’s Gertrude Stein.

The installation seems very stable, an indication, I hope, that after agreeing to return the Euphronios krater to Italy, the Met will not be sending back many more classical works. Yes, looting must be stopped. Yes, art often looks best in situ. 

The Greek and Roman Galleries > Opens April 20. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10028 at 82nd St. 212-879-5500

Related Links > http://metmuseum.org

Production begins on Cyprus Documentary April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.
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Production Begins on Cyprus Documentary; Island Nation a Forgotten Key to Mideast Peace

Production has begun on a new documentary about a mostly forgotten linchpin of Middle East peace, the divided island of Cyprus, according to Hellenic News

Cyprus, a Mediterranean island nation divided 32 years ago by a Turkish invasion, holds a key to the solution of the War on Terrorism and the unrest in the Middle East. Largely forgotten except as perhaps a vacation spot or an evacuation site in the Israeli-Lebanese war of 2006, Cyprus continues to inflame the relationship of Greece and Turkey. It thereby limits Turkey’s chances for membership in the European Union. That membership could establish Turkey as a key player in this part of the world, but without resolution – and specifically without U.S. involvement, this festering problem will continue to be a thorn in the side of peace in a region where the U.S. desperately needs help and stability.

Cyprus: Still Divided is being produced for national distribution in Fall 2007 by Veras Communications, Inc. (VCI) and presented on public TV by WTVS Detroit Public Television (DPTV). The documentary will seek real solutions and show the continued unrest and human suffering of those that were uprooted from their ancestral homes on both sides of the island.

As production continues, interview excerpts and blogging will be available at cyprusdivided.com. In addition to the documentary, a separate discussion representing a variety of expert viewpoints will be taped and made available for public television stations.

“Since the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 by Turkey, Cyprus and its capital city, Nicosia, have been divided by barbed wire and armed occupation forces,” notes executive producer George Veras. “Today, the south is a vibrant democracy and a valued member of the European Union, while the north is an impoverished and unrecognized non-state controlled by 40,000 Turkish troops. After three decades of behind-the-scenes talks with no resolution, this issue has disappeared from the American consciousness, but it is well known as a major problem in the world diplomatic community. It is time to put the spotlight back on Cyprus as a way to break the log jam.”

“We will examine elements of history such as why the United States and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did not push for removal of Turkish troops when the crisis erupted in 1974 and bring the story to the present, looking at why 40,000 Turkish troops remain. This is not about Turkey vs. Cyprus, but rather why after more than three decades the issue remains unresolved and now, how it is undermining U.S. efforts in the Middle East.”

Related Links > http://cyprusdivided.com

CoE Ministers adopt interim resolution on Cyprus versus Turkey case April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.
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The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a second interim resolution concerning the execution of a judgment, in May 2001, by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Cyprus against Turkey.

The Court found a number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by Turkey in the northern part of Cyprus since the Turkish military invasion in 1974.

As regards the issue of missing persons, the Committee emphasizes again the urgency of this issue, welcomes the progress achieved in the work of the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) and in particular through the exhumation and identification programme, and encourages the continuation of the efforts so far deployed. However it calls on Turkey to rapidly provide information on additional measures required to ensure the effective investigation called for by the Court’s judgment.

As regards education, censorship in the occupied areas and the absence of appropriate facilities, the Committee welcomes “the continued functioning of the secondary school in Rizokarpaso since 2004 and in particular the fact that since September 2005 full secondary education to Greek Cypriot children is ensured”. It notes with satisfaction “the undertaking of the so-called Turkish authorities to continue to provide for full secondary education for Greek Cypriot children in the future” and welcomes “that censorship of schoolbooks no longer takes place”. The Committee therefore “decides to close the examination of the issues relating to the violations found under Article 2 Protocol 1 and Article 10 of the Convention”.

On the freedom of religion of Greek Cypriots living in northern Turkish-occupied Cyprus, the Committee welcomes that “restrictions have been lifted in a satisfactory manner” and notes in particular that “numerous examples demonstrate that a normal and regular religious life in conformity with the requirements of the Convention is today possible”.
Therefore it decides “to close the examination of the issues relating to the violations found under Article 9 of the Convention”.

Referring to issues relating to home and property of Greek Cypriot displaced persons, the Committee urges the Turkish authorities to provide without delay information, as well as information on measures taken to safeguard the property rights of the displaced persons as these have been recognised in the judgment of the European Court, without prejudging the redress required by the Convention, be it restitution, compensation, exchange or otherwise.

In 2005, a first Interim Resolution was adopted, which concerned in particular the issue of missing persons, certain aspects of the issue of living conditions of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas, in particular regarding education and the freedom of religion, and the issue relating to the rights of military courts to judge civilians.

Nicosia Mayor protests unacceptable wording in invitation April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.
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Mayor of Nicosia Eleni Mavrou, in a letter to the organisers of the Fourth World Mayors’ Summit, hosted in Constantinople from April 12 to 15, stresses that the internationally recognised and legal Municipal Authority of the capital of Cyprus is the Nicosia Municipality and that the invitation sent to her should have been addressed to the Mayor of Nicosia and not to ”the Mayor of the Greek Cypriot Municipality.”

Speaking to CNA, Mavrou noted that “this invitation does not respond to the internationally recognised facts” and therefore she does not intend to participate in the Summit unless a correction is made and she is invited as the Mayor of Nicosia. Mavrou added that she has sent a letter to the organisers as well as the participants of the Summit, expressing the deep wish for participation and cooperation, noting however that this cannot happen given the current situation.

“We request that you follow the internationally recognised approach and terminology used for the Municipality of Nicosia,” Mavrou says, noting that there has not yet been a reply by the organisers.

The approach of the Republic of Cyprus, she indicated, is that institutions that derive from illegal procedures, such as the voting for “mayors” in the Turkish occupied and military controlled areas of Cyprus, cannot be considered as legal.

Noting the importance of cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot side, she further stressed that such incidents only cause tension between the communities. “It is important for one to understand that such issues cannot be settled on a local level but through the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem for which we must all make efforts,” the Mayor of Nicosia concluded.