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Austrian Artists Exhibition at the Athens Concert Hall October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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Opens Tonight > An exhibition of works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka will go on display at the Athens Concert Hall tonight, alongside works by other prominent contemporaries. Most of the works are on loan from Vienna’s Leopold Museum. The exhibition will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Sundays and will run to December 30.

Opens Tonight, also Thursday, Saturday and October 29 > Alexander von Zemlinsky’s one-act opera “Der Zwerg” and Arnold Schoenberg’s dramatic monologue for a soprano “Erwartung” are both directed by Eike Grams, with sets and costumes designed by Gottfried Pilz. “Der Zwerg” features vocalists Marlis Petersen, Mata Katsouli, Boiko Zvetanov and Wolfgang Schoene, while “Erwartung” features soprano Elena Nebera. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will also participate, under the baton of Nikos Tsouchlos. 9 p.m., Alexandra Trianti Hall.

On Friday > As part of the Dionysios Solomos Year, the Greek National Poet, the Camerata Orchestra, under Vyron Fidetzis and joined by soprano Mata Katsouli, mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nezi, tenor Yiannis Christopoulos, baritone Dimitris Tiliakos, narrator Anna Synodinou and the Thessaloniki Choir, will perform works by Manolis Kalomiris and Beethoven. 8.30 p.m., Friends of Music Hall.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.
Reservations for all events should be made well in advance on tel 210 7282333 or via the Internet on www.megaron.gr 

An extraordinary career’s highlights all in one evening October 22, 2007

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Maurice Bejart’s ballet set for two shows this week > Motion in harmony. Berjart’s career-spanning ‘L’Amour, la Danse’ comes to Athens this week.

The Bejart Ballet of Lausanne, the legendary Maurice Bejart’s current dance troupe, will be in Athens this week for two performances at the Pallas Theater on Wednesday and Thursday. At the time of writing, it remained unclear whether Bejart, who has suffered health problems recently, would be able to attend the performances and offer his admirers the opportunity to applaud the dancer, choreographer and man of wisdom for his lifetime’s achievements over the past 50 years.

Bejart, now 80, ranks as one of the most significant artists of our time. He revolutionalized dance and managed to draw bigger audiences while maintaining the art form’s spiritual dimension.

For the upcoming Athens performances, organized by the non-profit organization ELEPAP, the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children, Bejart, who has established an affinity with this country over the years, will present his most recent production, “L’Amour, la Danse,” which culls leading choreographies from his career.

Both his life’s work and personality run parallel with the history of dance. Twenty-five years after forming his Ballet of the 20th Century in 1960, Bejart relocated to Lausanne where he has since lived and worked.

His artistic world holds places for the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Charles Baudelaire and Gustav Mahler and his groundbreaking ballets have allowed for the co-existence of incongruent components, such as jazz elements with traditional African rituals, or the techniques of Martha Graham with the power of expressionist dance.

Bejart, like all major artists, is a man of contradictions. On many occasions, the daring nature of his work has proven to be a challenge. Most critics tend to agree that Bejart produced his greatest ballets in the 50s and 70s, when it is generally agreed that the artist took classical dance to wider audiences.

“I wanted to change both the genre and the audiences. I would rent out 5,000-capacity stadiums for a month and offer cheap tickets. I managed to have dance accepted at the Avignon Festival, at open-air theaters and public grounds. In my opinion, dance should not be elitist. It is a global language, an international tongue that brings people closer. In traditional dancing all over the world, the first thing dancers do is offer their hands,” Bejart had remarked in a former interview.

His work was deeply influenced by the Far East, both in terms of technique and school of thought. His father, a philosopher, spoke and wrote Chinese. Bejart himself studied Zen under the tutelage of Deshimaru, and, following a series of visits to Iran, was deeply influenced by a Kurdish Sufi and embraced Islam.

“Through dance, I try to offer a feeling of tranquillity and unity to the individual of the Western world, who is so egocentric, fragmented and divided,” Bejart has said. Applying Eastern philosophy to his work, he sought to change how audiences perceived dance, aiming for a ritualistic approach.

“Everything is sacred, from eating and sleeping to making love and dancing. If God was not omnipresent in our lives, there would not have been a reason to name him. God is not a bearded old man who governs the world from afar. He is among us, he lies within everyone of us. Which is why fanaticism, intolerance, and social segregation are all insults to divinity. Divinity is unity,” Bejart has stated.

Over the years, Bejart has presented scores of magical productions in Greece, including “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Magic Flute.” Bejart’s dance company last performed here in 2002 at the Herod Atticus Theater, staging a production based on music by the Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis and the late Manos Hadjidakis, both old friends. “I met Manos Hadjidakis many years ago and our friendship was a truly unique experience. And as for Mikis Theodorakis, my projects set to his music have traveled the world with great success everywhere,” Bejart stated in an interview in the summer of 2002.

“Dance is like breathing. When a young child manages to stand for the first time it will dance. Quite often, our conditioning forbids us to dance because it is not considered correct or the moment may be deemed inappropriate,” says Bejart. “But humans are made to dance. It’s a part of their nature.”

Let’s tango in Athens babe! October 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Festivals, Ballet Dance Opera.
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The 3rd Tango Festival in Athens 26 – 28 October 2007

Worldwide known tango masters, as well as shows, exhibitions and live orchestras will dazzle you in Athens.

Tango, the dance with the stop “Baille Con Carte”, is one of the most fascinating of all dances. Originating in Spain or Morocco, the Tango was introduced to the New World by the Spanish settlers, eventually coming back to Spain with Black and Creole influences. Ballroom Tango originated in the lower class of Buenos Aires, especially in the “Bario de las Ranas”.

The Festival will take place this year at the Estia of Nea Smyrni, a neoclassical building near Syngrou Avenue. The classes will be held in the two main halls of the building.
For more information please check > www.estia-ns.gr

The milonga is set on Friday 26 Ocober and will be at the Ianos Bookstore, 24 Stadiou Street, Athens, from 22.30am. Tango happenings and music from Dj Elia. The milonga-masters’ show is on Saturday 27 October and will take place at the Estia Neas Smyrnis. Live orchestra from Locos de Atar and after music from Dj Carlos.

For more information visit > http://www.athenstango-festival.gr/index.asp

A concert in memory of Edvard Grieg October 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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joachim_kjelsaas_kwetzinsky.jpg  The young Norwegian piano soloist Joachim Kjelsaas Kwetzinsky will perform at the Athens Concert Hall’s tribute to composer Edvard Grieg today at 8.30 p.m.

Marking the centennial of Edvard Grieg’s death (1843-1907), the Orchestra of Colors, in collaboration with the the Embassy of Norway, is holding a tribute concert to the great Norwegian composer today at 8.30 p.m. at the Athens Concert Hall’s Friends of Music Hall.

The program will comprise the “Peer Gynt” suite, the First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, the Holberg Suite and the Norwegian Dances, Opus 35. Joachim Kjelsaas Kwetzinsky will be at the piano, while the Orchestra of Colors will be conducted by Yang Yang, the 2006 recipient of the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Competition for Orchestra Conductors award.

Later in the month, on October 23, 25, 27 and 29, the Athens Concert Hall will be inaugurating its opera series with a double-bill performance of “Der Zwerg” (The Dwarf) by Alexander von Zemlinsky and Arnold Shoenberg’s monodrama for soprano “Erwartung” (Expectation). The performance will be directed by Switzerland’s Eike Grams, sets and costumes are designed by Gottfried Pilz, lighting is by Manfred Voss and choreography by Petros Gallias.

Based on Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Birthday of the Infanta” the one-act opera “The Dwarf” will feature Marlis Petersen in the role of Donna Clara, Mata Katsouli as Ghita, Boiko Zvetanov as the dwarf and Wolfgang Schoene as Don Estoban. In the second part of the program, “Erwartung” will be performed by soprano Inga Nielsen. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Nikos Tsouchlos.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkalis and Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333. Nearest metro station “Megaron”.

Related Links > www.megaron.gr

Thessaloniki’s Demetria Festival October 15, 2007

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Thessaloniki’s Demetria Festival was established in 1966 > Richard Strauss’s ‘Salome’ is being staged at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. In this production, the story takes place in a lunatic asylum.

As early as the golden age of Byzantium, about the 14th century AD, Thessaloniki hosted a regular spectacular “New Festival” each autumn. In modern times, since October 1966, a reborn festival bearing the name of Saint Demetrius, also known as the Great Martyr, Megalomartyr in Greek, and as he whose tomb gives forth a sweet fragrance, Myrovlitis in Greek, takes place here. Saint Demetrius is Thessalonikis’ Patron Saint.

This year’s festival is organized in several cycles of events. Opera is being represented by Verdi’s “Aida” performed by the Opera of Thessaloniki several weeks ago without the customary camels and elephants for the triumphant march in Act II, and by Strauss’s “Salome”, famous for its dance of the seven veils. The daughter of Herodias, Salome, the Bible tells us, danced for her stepfather, Herod Antipas, and demanded the head of John Baptist as a reward.

In Thessaloniki, the director Nikos Petropoulos transferred the action to the early 20th century, when Richard Strauss composed the opera and when the founder of the psychoanalytic school of thought, Sigmund Freud, created his theory of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life. A hundred years have passed since those vigorous days. Understandably, Salome’s story as told in Thessaloniki’s Concert Hall takes place in a lunatic asylum.

Incidentally, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall has just embarked upon its new season with a rather limited program. Its stable, yet meager, funding, which amounts to just 1.5 million euros, has resulted in very few events taking place this autumn. Considering the Athens Concert Hall’s funding, the sum for its northern sister seems ludicrous. At any rate, there are no flamboyant opera openings in this city. Do not imagine black-tie at the inaugurations in this Balkan capital. Instead you come across the arty, mini-skirted, bearded and habitually casually dressed local glitterati. During intermissions, one can easily chart the social and cultural changes of the, once, second city of two empires, reduced today to an unremarkable provincial capital.

However, and just for the record, Maria Callas once sang here. In one of her first appearances, in July 1940, la Divina was one of “the girls” in the choir of the Greek National Opera, when it was touring with “Die Fledermaus”. At any rate, no one remembered the event, with all the Callas festivities also happening in Thessaloniki.

Back to Strauss’s opera where the dangerous, sensual, tempting character of Salome has John the Baptist beheaded just to touch her lips to his. A Thessalonian actor and a C.P. Cavafy scholar, Nikos Naoumidis, reminded me that there might have been other reasons as well for the beheading, beyond those in Oscar Wilde’s imagination.

There is a Cavafy poem titled “Salome” which was not published during the poet’s lifetime. In it, Salome instigates the death of John the Baptist as part of a futile effort to win the interest of a young sophist who seems indifferent to the charms of heterosexual love. And when Salome presents him with John the Baptist’s head, the sophist rejects it, remarking in jest: “Dear Salome, I would have liked better to have received your own head.” Now, taking this jest seriously, the hopelessly wounded Salome lets herself be beheaded and her head is duly brought to the sophist on a golden platter. He, however, rejects it in disgust and turns to studying the dialogues of Plato. “Salome” will be performed another two nights, on October 17th and 20th.

As part of the Demetria Festival program, the National Theater of Northern Greece opens its winter season with a tribute to Nikos Kazantzakis, this time on the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Greece’s most important writers and thinkers.

Although the play “Julian the Apostate” was written some decades before Gore Vidal’s homonymous best-seller, it is reminiscent of the spirit of the novel. Could Vidal have ever read the French translation Kazantzakis did in 1948?

“Julian the Apostate” is a heretical, provocative, grandiloquent play little known to a wider audience. It was written in 1939, in the house where Shakespeare’s daughter lived, in Stratford-upon-Avon, under the roar of combat warplanes. Through the historical figure of Julian, Kazantzakis expresses his personal thoughts, creating a drama of extreme situations, rapid plot development and bombastic theatricality. He focuses on the contradictory and unpredictable personality of the Emperor, on the lonely struggle of a fighter and philosopher who sought freedom and self-awareness since he was a child. The Roman Emperor Julian, AD 331-363, linked his name to the effort to convert the Empire to the ancient Greek religion, as he was deeply influenced by his education, which was focused on antiquity. The Church branded him an enemy of Christianity and he was stigmatized with the epithet Paravatis, Transgressor, or Apostatis, the Apostate, although some believe that what he had really attempted to do was to reconcile the Greek spirit with the Christian religion.

Why did Thessaloniki’s National Theater of Northern Greece choose this play? Well, perhaps because of a paragraph, from Gore Vidal’s well-researched historical novel,  that perfectly suits our TV-adoring city: “In every city there is a special class whose only apparent function is to gather in public places and look at famous men… An elephant would have pleased them most, but since there was no elephant, the mysterious Prince Julian would have to do.”

Related Links >
http://www.dimitriathess.gr [available only in Greek language]


Athens Megaron’s autumn treats October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical, Music Life Greek.
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The Athens Concert Hall’s diverse programme covers a wide gamut of tastes inmusic, art and even astronomy

From classical music treats and the 4th Balkan Dance Platform to Chinese acrobatics and a Viennese art exhibition, the Megaron Mousikis’ diverse programme has many surprises in store in the next four months.

As part of the Megaron’s “Great Interpreters” series, Christopher Hogwood, honorary director of the Academy of Old Music, will conduct the local Camerata Orchestra at Nicholas Kynaston’s recital of Haydn and Beethoven works (October 21). Visiting soloists will include pianist Oleg Maisenberg (November 10) and Alfred Brendel (November 30), the first pianist to record Beethoven’s entire piano oeuvre. Koln’s WDR Symphony Orchestra (October 6), under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, and the Royal Stockholm Philhar-monic (December 17-18), which participates every year in the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, have also been booked to appear in the series.

Opera will be represented by Eike Gramss’ joint production (October 23, 25, 27 and 29) of two works: Alexander Zemlinsky’s 1922 one-act opera The Dwarf, based on Oscar Wilde’s sardonic tale The Birthday of Infanta, and Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 dramatic soprano solo Expectation, starring Marlis Petersen and Inga Nielsen, respectively.

Apart from the much-anticipated 4th Balkan Dance Platform (October 11-13), a biennial event which has already featured in Sofia (2001), Bucharest (2003) and Skopje (2005) before reaching Athens, the Megaron’s dance tribute will host the world premiere of Jan Fabre’s I Am a Mistake (November 28), a multi-disciplinary production combining dance, film, live music and text performed by Fabre’s Troubeyn company.

As part of the Megaron’s popular “Bridges” series, Greek music treats include a celebration of singer and songwriter Antonis Kaloyannis’ 40-year career (October 4), which began when Mikis Theodorakis invited the young singer to appear next to Maria Farantouri in a tour of the former USSR.

Megaron’s Christmas agenda mainly caters to families and consists of two events: a musical theatre production about two children on a mission to return to people their lost dreams, which is set to the music of Thanos Mikroutsikos and choreographed by his daughter Cecile (December 20-23 and December 25-30), and the Spectacular Acrobatics shows by China’s National Acrobatic troupe, which will also be featured in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics.

The Megaron Mousikis will also hold a charity event on September 24, highlighting violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos. All proceeds will go to aid the victims of the deadly fires that have recently ravaged the country.

Megaron Plus, the concert hall’s state-supported, non-music cultural programme, will cast the spotlight on literature, architecture and science-related events.

Visiting writers include Platform author Michel Houellebecq (October 25) and Japan’s Jung Chang (November 30). Local poets Kiki Dimoula and Dinos Christianopoulos will present their work on October 29 and November 2, respectively. In addition, a symposium on 1930s generation novelist Angelos Terzakis is planned for November 23.

Lined up on the architecture front are lectures by New Acropolis Museum architect Bernard Tschumi (October 10) and Pritzker Prize holder Thom Mayne (December 4).

A parallel exhibition of Gustav Klimt’s, Egon Schiele’s and Oskar Kokoschka’s works (October 23-December 30) will bring to Athens 70 paintings, most of which are from Vienna’s Leopold Museum, including Schiele’s Dead Mother and Kokoschka’s Self-Portrait. In addition, the directors of three French and three Greek Museums will participate in a round-table discussion, “Museums in the 20th Century” (December 3).

Spreading its wide-ranging gamut of interests into the realm of astronomy, Megaron Plus will host an anniversary event commemo-rating the launching of the Sputnik I satellite 50 years ago (October 5), in collaboration with the Eugenides Foundation. Paris Planetarium astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet will also give a lecture entitled “Limits and Mysteries of the Universe” (October 9).

Related Links > www.megaron.gr

Greek National Opera fights fires October 12, 2007

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Greek schoolchildren from the fire-affected areas will be offered free tickets to Goachino Rossini’s performances of “La Cenerentola”, November 4 and April 20, the Greek National Opera announced.

For further information call 210 3600180.