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The Bacchae at Edinburgh’s International Festival July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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The must-have theatre ticket of the festival is The Bacchae, starring Alan Cumming as Dionysus, created by the people behind Black Watch and some Greek bloke called Euripides 2500 years ago.

The latest show from the National Theatre of Scotland is being created by some of the country’s most celebrated talents. Starring Cumming and Tony Curran, both of whom have successful careers in America, the play is directed by John Tiffany, who staged the phenomenon that is Black Watch.

Euripides wrote The Bacchae shortly before his death in 406BC, and it was performed the following year at the Dionysia, the Athenian drama festival, where it took first prize. The play concerns Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theatre, whose late mother Semele was a member of the Theban ruling family and whose father Zeus is king of the Gods. As the play begins, Dionysus is returning to Thebes after seducing and converting much of what we now know as the Middle East.

To take revenge on his aunts, who called his mother a slut and mocked her claims that she was involved with Zeus, he has driven them into a kind of mad hedonistic ecstasy which will end in bloody murder. That bit was easy, but he faces a greater challenge from his nemesis and cousin Pentheus, prince of Thebes, who considers the liberal pleasure cult of Dionysus a direct challenge to his own steely rule.

The original text has been translated by Ian Ruffell of the classics department of Glasgow University, and then adapted by David Greig, arguably the pre-eminent Scottish playwright of the last decade. It is the staging, however, which will really distinguish The Bacchae from most productions of these ancient classics.

The Bacchae is at The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, August 11-18, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, then the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, August 28-September 1, and the Lyric Hammersmith, September 5-22.

For more details visit > www.nationaltheatrescotland.com 

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Greek President Papoulias visits Cyprus July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News.
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President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in Cyprus at noon on Saturday to attend three-day events commemorating late President of the Cyprus Republic Archbishop Makarios.

The Greek President was welcomed at Larnaca airport during a red carpet official ceremony, by Minister of Education and Culture Akis Kleanthous on behalf of the Cypriot government. Other officials welcomed President Papoulias at Larnaca airport’s VIP lounge, including National Guard Commander, Lieutenant General Constantinos Bisbikas, Cypriot Ambassador to Athens Giorgos Georgis, Bishop of Kition Chrysostomos, Greek Ambassador to Nicosia Demetrios Rallis and Head of Protocol of the Cypriot Foreign Ministry Marios Ieronimides. 

In the afternoon, President Papoulias was scheduled to have a private meeting with President Tassos Papadopoulos at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, before going to the Nicosia’s Municipal Theatre to attend an oratorio to mark 30 years since Makarios’ death.

On Saturday evening, Papadopoulos was due to welcome Papoulias at his home for a private dinner. On Sunday morning, Papoulias will visit the Kykkos Monastery and attend a memorial service for Archbishop Makarios, marking 30 years since the death of the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Throni, were Archbishop Makarios’ tomb is.

In the afternoon, he will have separate meetings with House of Representatives President Demetris Christophias and Former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. Presidents Papoulias and Papadopoulos will deliver greetings at the memorial service, while it will also be addressed by Greece’s Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. President Papoulias returns to Athens on Monday.

Occupied Old Famagusta at risk July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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Occupied Ammochostos or Famagusta’s famous walled city has been named one of the world’s top one hundred endangered sites of historical and cultural interest, in a list compiled by the World Monuments Fund.

WMF is an independent non-profit organization with no formal ties to UNESCO. The World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites was launched as part of the WMF’s World Monuments Watch program in 1995. The List is produced every two years to raise awareness and incite local efforts to preserve sites of cultural heritage. The occupied Famagusta or Ammochostos in Greek, site was added to this List.

The organisation cited the island’s political impasse, a lack of political will in both Cyprus communities, and the developments taken by the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied and military controlled north area of the Republic of Cyprus, as contributing to the city’s decay. As well as its significance as a hub for commercial activity during Lusignan and Venetian rule, the port city is well known for having been the setting for Shakespeare’s epic Othello. It now lies in the Turkish military controlled and occupied areas, north of Varosha, and is said to have been subject to “three centuries of neglect” before the arrival of British occupying forces in 1878.

The walled city began to rise in prominence as one of Christendom’s principal cities when it experienced an influx of Christian refugees after the fall of Acre, Palestine to the Mamluks in 1291. It was then seized by Genoa and then the Venetians, before submitting to Ottoman rule in 1571. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas, which the illegal regime of Turkish occupiers altered its original name to the so-called Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, in the city’s main square is significant for having been the coronation site of the exiled Kings of Crusader Jerusalem after Acre’s fall.

Other noted sites of cultural and historical interest are the remains of the Venetian Palace, Othello’s Tower, as well as the hundreds of small Christian churches that surround the square, built by Venetian merchants as measures of wealth.

The Watch List cites the current political stalemate on the island between the two Cypriot communities as the central reason behind the city’s continued dilapidation, also noting as a factor the “lack of funding and expertise in the Turkish occupied and military controlled north areas of the Republic of Cyprus heritage sector”. “The political situation, combined with uncontrolled and inappropriate development, has become a real threat to the island’s heritage.”

Awareness on both local and international levels, as well as local education and publicity are needed to keep the famous city from falling into further disrepair, as well as efforts from both communities to halt the misuse of historic features. “The international community, including both nations and organisations, are also timorous of controversy and loath to recognise the heritage situation in occupied Famagusta in any way.”

The lack of political will of the government, the Turkish Cypriot authorities and the international community are said to be contributing to the continuing degradation of the historic site. Frescoes lie open to bleaching and decay by the sun and rain, and the walls of the palaces and churches are said to be crumbling. The list also notes the inappropriate reuse of ancient buildings, and urban development and expansion by the illegal Turkish regime in the military controlled and occupied northern areas of the Republic of Cyprus, as major contributing factors which has been ongoing since July 1974 when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus.

While the WMF raises funds for preservation and restoration, and has been successful in restoring over 75 per cent of sites included on its Watch Lists, local efforts are said to be essential to preserving areas of cultural heritage. “The immediate need would be for qualified experts in history, archaeology, art history, architecture, engineering, and conservation to conduct an analysis of the current state of the occupied city. The need for funding would follow based on their recommendations,” reads the list’s description.

The 2008 list includes sites thought to be at risk from global climate change, cultural sites in places of conflict, historic cities and even modern architecture that is subject to neglect. Among the one hundred listed sites are Machu Picchu in Peru, Bethlehem’s Church of the Holy Nativity in the Palestinian territories, Old Damascus in Syria, Tara Hill in Ireland, New Orleans in Louisiana, and numerous sites in Iraq.

Summer Treats > Cephalonian pie July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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A traditional Cephalonian pie can be made with meat, cheese or wild greens. Here’s a recipe for a Tomato, red pepper and feta pie

Ingredients >
250g puff pastry, rolled to about 1/3cm
1 egg yolk
5 ripe tomatoes
6 thick skinned red peppers
140g sunblush or semi-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely blended in a food processor
12-14 black olives stoned
200g Greek feta cheese
2-3tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil
A few sprigs of basil

Method >
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the pastry into a circle about 25-30cms diameter or into a rectangular shape and place on a baking tray. Score a line with the tip of a knife about 1cm from the edge all the way around and prick the inner pastry all over with a fork. Cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the interior pastry, wrap it in foil and place it on the pastry, leaving the pastry’s edge exposed. Brush the edge with the egg yolk; bake for 12-15 minutes until the edge is golden.

Meanwhile, quarter the peppers, remove the seeds and place on a baking tray with the skin side up. Place under a hot grill for 8-10 minutes or until the skins are black, then place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm; this allows the skins to be removed easily. Bring a pan of water to the boil large enough for the tomatoes. Cut a criss-cross on the top of each tomato and remove the eye with the point of a knife. Have a bowl of cold water ready: plunge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-12 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water. The skin should easily peel away now, if not then give them a few more seconds in the boiling water. Quarter the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Remove the skin from the peppers and cut each piece in half.

Remove the cardboard and spread the tomato paste over the centre of the pastry. Arrange the tomatoes and peppers up to the edge of the pastry, then scatter over the olives. Season lightly and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and place nuggets of the feta on top and drizzle with more olive oil and scatter with the basil. Serves 4.

Aegina Music Festival kicks off in August July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Festivals, Music Life Classical.
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Two evenings with ‘The Magic of Gypsy Music.’

For the second year running, the Aegina Music Festival is taking place this summer under the auspices of the City of Aegina and the direction of pianist Dora Bakopoulou. From August 17 to September 2, classical musicians will perform 11 concerts, with an emphasis on chamber music. All concerts will be held on the beach of Aura, located just in front of the Kolonas archaeological site.

The festival begins on August 17 with the Ellemis piano quartet, made up of Stella Tsani on violin, Elena Hounta on piano, Michail Smirnov on viola and Leuki Kolovou on cello interpreting Liszt, Mozart and Schumann.

The next day, August 18, music by Rachmaninov, Chopin and Arenski will be played by Polina Leschenko on piano, Christian Poltera on cello and Alissa Margulis on violin. On August 19, Dora Bakopoulou, Angelica Cathariou, Loukas Georgas and Christina Yiannakopoulou perform works by Ravel, Stravinsky and Gyftakis, while on the 22nd a solo recital will be given by Anssi Karttunen on cello with a repertoire of Vitali, Saariaho, Ortiz and Bach.

On August 24, music by Schumann and Brahms will be played by Dora Bakopoulou, Alissa Margulis, Lida Chen, Vova Sverdlov and Dimitris Patras, and on the 25th, Faure, Prokofiev and Poulenc will be featured with Spyros Mourikis on clarinet, soprano Maria Gouseti and pianists Marios Kazas and Victoria Kiazimi. The next day works by Haydn, Shostakovish, Massenet and Beethoven will be performed. A week later, on August 31, and again on September 2, the mood of the festival changes with two nights dedicated to “The Magic of Gypsy Music.” September 1 is an “Evening of Opera.” With the performances dedicated to Costas Paschalis, the beloved opera arias of Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Bizet will be sung by soprano Sandra Silvio, mezzo-soprano Angelica Cathariou, tenor Yiannis Christopoulos and baritone Haris Andrianos, who will be accompanied by Dimitris Yiakas on piano.

For additional info see > www.aeginamusicfestival.gr

Art inspired by Greek myth July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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Two separate exhibitions on drawings by Jean Cocteau and Friedrich Durrenmatt at the Benaki Museum’s Annex

Over the seeming objectivity of history, Jean Cocteau preferred the imaginary world of mythology. “I always preferred mythology to history. History is made up of truths that are proven to be lies but mythology of lies that are made real,” he once said.

A poet, playwright, artist and filmmaker at the epicenter of the interwar Parisian avant-garde, Cocteau (1889-1963) had a particularly strong interest in Greek mythology. He revived the Classics to make them relevant to modern times and used heroes of Greek mythology to speak of modern issues.

“Jean Cocteau and Greece” an exhibition that is on for a few more days at the Benaki Museum shows Cocteau’s examination of Greek mythology as expressed in the artist’s work in the visual arts, the drawings, sculptures, ceramics, engravings and sculptures that he produced throughout his life.

Also at the Benaki, the exhibition “The Myths of Friedrich Durrenmatt” shows another, different perspective on the myths of Greece. The Swiss writer Friedrich Durrenmatt (1921-1990) was inspired by Greek tragedy in his plays and novels that, in most cases, dealt with the notions of justice, paradox and the grotesque, dark side of modern societies. The pages of his books are in many cases interspersed with his ink drawings in which the heroes of Greek mythology, the Minotaur, Pythia or Orestis, are recurring themes.

In the Benaki exhibition, hundreds of his drawings and engravings, owned by his wife, Charlotte Kerr Durrenmatt, are presented in an original display designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta. In a dimly lit exhibition space, the drawings are suspended from the ceiling in plexiglass, double-faced frames. Painted in an expressionist style, Durrenmatt’s drawings contain both humor and criticism.

The fluid, Matisse-like lines in the drawings of Cocteau are the opposite of Durrenmatt’s boldstyle. Durrenmatt was intrigued by the Minotaur, Cocteau by Orpheus. The latter’s first avant-garde film, “Le sang d’un poet” in 1930, was part of a trilogy with Orpheus as a hero.

Cocteau visited Greece three times, the first time in the mid-1930s. “When I approach Greece, I always feel the same kind of pleasure, a sort of elation,” he wrote. As in the work of other artists of his generation, Greece and its mythology symbolized a Mediterranean haven, an idea that transcended time. His drawings are filled with that vision.

“Jean Cocteau and Greece” and “The Myths of Friedrich Durrenmatt” at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Wing, 138 Pireos Street, Athens, tel 210 3453111 to Sunday.

Museum of the Olive explores the unseen sides of two city-states July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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An intriguing, thematic exhibition which shatters misconceptions was inaugurated yesterday by Minister of Culture George Voulgarakis at the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta.

In the “Athens-Sparta: from the 8th Century to 5th Century BC” exhibition, Spartan civilization plays a leading role, without there being any doubt however of Athenian influence on its literature and arts. Militarist Sparta did not focus as much on epic creations as Athens so famously did, but creativity flourished in other areas, such as in metalwork and ceramics.

About 150 objects shed light on the political, cultural and economic story of the two ancient Greek city-states from the 8th to 5th centuries BC. Nevertheless, a comparison of the two is not the intent, even if the parallel narratives of the exhibition reveal both their similarities and differences. The first room of the exhibit is dedicated to the two cities up until the time of the Persian Wars, with objects such as bone figurines from the Temple of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, a statue of a kore from an Attic workshop and a Laconian commemorative relief of the Dioskouroi.

In the second room, historically focused on the period from the Persian to Peloponnesian wars, a marble statue of “Leonidas,” a rare example of Spartan sculpture, draws the most attention. Estimated to have been created between 480-470 BC, it portrays a soldier, most likely the Spartan King. Surrounding the sculpture are other important works: arrow heads from the battle of Thermopylae, a copper helmet of an Assyrian soldier who fought at either Marathon or Salamina, and a gravestone from a mass grave, which was discovered at the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos during recent excavations for the Athens metro.

The exhibition, which runs until October 26, first went on display last December at the Onassis Cultural Foundation in New York City. The recent inauguration of the exhibit coincides with the opening of a new hall in the Museum where there will be copies of olive presses from antiquity in working form as well as of the multipurpose room where the “Athens-Sparta” exhibition is housed.

For more information call > 27310 89325.