jump to navigation

Operetta journey to heart of Athenian Belle Epoque March 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Stage & Theater.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
comments closed

“‘Thymisou ekeina ta chronia” – “Remember those years” – returns to the Athens Acropol Theater. Audiences are flocking to the Acropol Theater for a production featuring works by Theofrastos Sakellaridis.

Four times a week taxis and private cars drop off their passengers on the Ippocratous sidewalk: well-groomed ladies and gentlemen somewhere in the over-50s age group. Clad in their felt hats and pearls, this almost-exiled-from-Athenian-nightlife world swiftly takes its place at the Acropol Theater this season, for a tribute to Theofrastos Sakellaridis (1883-1950), the so-called patriarch of Greek operetta.

Not unlike a high-school reunion, from Wednesdays to Sundays the most homogeneous public to be seen at an Athenian foyer has been passionately supporting the Greek National Opera’s most popular production this year. Performances of “Thymisou ekeina ta chronia” (Remember Those Years) run to April 20.

Following a break last year, the operetta is back in the National Opera’s repertory. And what a comeback it is: “Thymisou ekeina ta chronia” is a highly satisfying medley undertaken by musicologist Lambros Liavas, who put together the show following elaborate research on both a historic and music level.

Developed from scratch, the production is based on a dramatized narration-guided tour undertaken by the composer himself (interpreted at the Acropol by Michalis Mitrousis), who is accompanied by two of his muses, namely Marika Kotopouli and Afroditi Laoutari. On stage, the story is told backward, with Sakellaridis appearing on New Year’s Eve in 1950, just prior to his death, before going all the way back to the heart of the Athenian Belle Epoque.

At the Acropol Theater, the operetta’s dynamic comeback is based on new terms. The requirements here were straightforward: What was needed was a new point of view, far from the kind of approach that treats operetta productions as if they belong in museums.

Hence the involvement of Liavas and choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki, the latter invited to participate even though she had no prior experience in this particular artistic genre.

“I had never been to an operetta production before,” confesses Papadamaki. When asked, however, she agreed without too much hesitation. To begin with, her decision to join in had a lot to do with the presence of Liavas, with whom she worked on the production’s direction. Another reason behind her decision is that she tends to perform well when entering unknown territory.

“Staging something postmodern in Athens right now does not seem like a real challenge to me,” says Papadimaki, adding, “I enjoyed working on a project that targets an audience which is being offered very little in terms of nightlife.”

At the Acropol, the new wind is blowing discreetly with modern, minimalist tendencies in the settings, lighting and costumes, while the orchestration flirts with jazz and swing. Papadamaki sought to strike a balance between the old and the new, as opposed to pursuing a subversive take. And she cannot hide her satisfaction given the slight drop in the audience’s average age. Will the first emos turn up next year?

Greek National Opera, Acropol Theater, National Opera New Stage, 9-11 Ippocratous Street, Athens, tel 210 3643700.

A Larissa-born soprano brings opera home February 11, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

Myrto Papathanassiou at the helm of ‘La Traviata’ > The Greek soprano is presenting ‘La Traviata’ in Larissa this month.

The headline in leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica was poignant: “Violetta-Myrto seduces the Opera,” read the title, while nearly all of the rave review was dedicated to “Myrto Papathanassiou from Larissa.” Greek soprano Papathanassiou had drawn enthusiasm from the Roman public as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the city’s Teatro dell’Opera. That was back in April of last year, when two leading names of Italian opera, director Franco Zeffirelli and conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti, had entrusted Papathanassiou with the role. She was back in Rome’s opera house this year, taking part in a new production of Puccini’s “Tosca.”

Taking a break from her busy international schedule, Papathanassiou is currently in Greece working on a project that will not get her another Repubblica headline but nevertheless means a lot to her.

On February 22, Papathanassiou is scheduled to go on stage in Larissa, her hometown. At the helm of an almost exclusively made-in-Larissa production of “La Traviata,” at the city’s Municipal musical conservatory, the soprano will appear alongside the city’s Municipal Young Symphony Orchestra, the Larissa conservatory’s Dimitris Mitropoulos school orchestra and opera choir as well as the Thessaly ballet, under the guidance of director Costas Lambroulis and maestro Christos Chtistakis.

Considering that opera productions are a rarity in places like Thessaloniki, a city with over 1 million inhabitants, staging “La Traviata” in Larissa takes on a larger dimension, far beyond the upcoming five scheduled performances at the city’s municipal music school. The event is uniting the city’s artistic powers and brings an artistic genre identified with big city centers to the local community.

As for Papathanassiou, the soprano is fully aware of the upcoming project’s importance. “It takes guts to do this,” she says, adding that her involvement in the production has a lot to do with her faith in the abilities of the local community. Furthermore, following the orchestra’s own preparations, whose level she finds “very good,” she is now looking forward to the rehearsals.

Papathanassiou’s own journey from Larissa has been embellished with various stops at leading opera houses around the world: the Sydney Opera, the Monaco Opera, the Amsterdam Opera, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, the Opera Comique in Paris and the Konzerthaus in Vienna, to name but a few.

On the Greek front, Papathanassiou has collaborated with the Greek National Opera only once so far, taking on the role of Sandrina in Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera” – something the soprano attributes to coincidence and chance. In any case, while Papathanassiou is already aware of her schedule for 2011, the Greek National Opera has yet to announce its program for next season.

All eyes on troubled ballet’s newly appointed director October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

Famed Russian dancer Irek Mukhamedov makes his debut on Sunday.

«I always tell myself that whatever happens is only for the better,» says Irek Mukhamedov, the world-renowned classical dancer who recently assumed the top artistic post at the troubled Greek National Opera Ballet.

Succeeding another prominent figure as artistic director, the Canadian classical dancer Lynn Seymour, who resigned abruptly in the summer after a one-year tenure, Mukhamedov is the latest bet being placed by the Greek ballet’s administration. Seymour had walked out declaring that her «artistic objectives could not be reached under specific working conditions» while adding that the changes she had proposed «could not be implemented in the near future».

Now 47, Mukhamedov, who continues to rank as one of the world’s most impressive classical dancers, has often declared: «I don’t want to be one of the ordinary ones. I want to be the best».

Born in Kazan, Russia, Mukhamedov trained at the Moscow Ballet School. In 1981, he won the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and was recruited as the principal dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet, where he remained for nine years.

His performances in «Spartacus», «Ivan the Terrible», «Raymonda», «Romeo and Juliet» and «The Golden Age», a production choreographed just for Mukhamedov, highlighted his phenomenal talent.

In 1990, a significant year in Mukhamedov’s career, the Russian artist moved to the West to become the principle dancer at Covent Garden’s Royal Ballet. He stayed until 2001. Last year, when Seymour was appointed artist director to the Greek National Opera Ballet, Mukhamedov joined her here as an assistant and trainer. Now at the helm himself, Mukhamedov is set to stage his debut production for the National Opera Ballet this Sunday evening, as both dancer and choreographer, at the Olympia Theater. The performance will feature three ballets, «Paquita» by Marius Petipa, Jose Limon’s «The Moor’s Pavane» and August Bournonville’s «Napoli».

Former Bolshoi star to head Greek National Opera ballet October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

Former Bolshoi Ballet star dancer Irek Mukhamedov has taken over the direction of Greece’s National Opera ballet, the organisation said on Friday.

The position has been vacant since June after previous director, Canadian ballerina Lynn Seymour, resigned citing unsurmountable problems with Greek bureaucracy. The Greek National Opera is a state organisation operating under the supervision of the Culture Ministry.

Born in the Russian city of Kazan, 47-year-old Mukhamedov was for years the Bolshoi’s leading male dancer. He left Russia in 1990 to join the Royal Ballet in London, where his talent inspired choreographers such as Sir Kenneth MacMillan to create roles for him.

He was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Prize for Best Dancer in the World in 1988. Mukhamedov, who holds British citizenship, was previously the Greek National Opera’s artistic coordinator.

Greek National Opera fights fires October 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

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.

Greek National Opera stages Verdi’s “Nabucco” October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , , , , , ,
comments closed

Julia Pevzner invokes moments from modern history in her production of Verdi’s biblical “Nabucco”

The Greek National Opera is inaugurating the 2007/08 season with last-year’s successful production of Verdi’s “Nabucco,” to be performed on October 14, 16, 18, 20, 23, 15 and 27, though this year’s performance has a new cast.

The production, however, still bears the mark of Julia Pevzner, a Russian-born director who immigrated to Israel in 1991, and who received rave reviews for her modern take on the classic opera last year.

In Verdi’s biblical tale, Pevzner invokes moments from modern history, such as Nazi Germany and the searchlights of East Berlin in the late 1980s. Pevzner debuted at the Dallas Opera with a production of “The Queen of Spades” in 2003, and her European debut was with “Der Rheingold” and “Die Walkure” later in 2003 at the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, followed by a staging at the Israeli Opera of “Half a Moon Tale” in 2004. She has taken a special interest in new opera and musical theater works, fringe theater and innovative productions. She has staged a number of new Israeli operas. Her recent work includes “La serva padrona” and “Der Schauspieldirektor” in Israel, “Letters to Orpheus”, a poetic musical theater, in Georgia, “Boris Godunov” at the Houston Grand Opera and others. Future projects include “Eugene Onegin” and “Jenufa” at the Virginia Opera and “The Seven Deadly Sins” at the Helikon Opera in Moscow.

The music for the GNO production is conducted by Ilias Voudouris and the choir by Nikos Vassileiou. Sets have been designed by Antonis Daglidis, costumes by Tota Pritsa and the lighting is by Lefteris Pavlopoulos. The choreography is by Petros Gallias.

Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461 and 210 3643725.

Related Links > http://www.nationalopera.gr

Greek Opera season starts with uncertainty October 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Greek National Opera beginning its program this month, still in search of an artistic director > Verdi’s opera ‘Nabucco,’ staged last season too, will kick off the Greek National Opera’s 2007/08 season on October 14 and will run through the end of the month.

Shortly before his first meeting with new Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, Chairman of the Greek National Opera’s Board of Directors, stated that the organization wasn’t looking for “just anyone” to fill the post of artistic director. Kyriakopoulos tried to raise expectations but also to assuage concerns over the dismissal of former artistic director Stefanos Lazaridis last June, at the request of the Board. Nothing has been done to replace him so far, with the elections and the changes in the Ministry of Culture further contributing to the delay.

Although the program announced at a recent press conference by the National Opera for the new season was complete, there can be no guarantees for 2008-09 if the institution remains without an artistic director. Kyriakopoulos was very straightforward regarding the treatment that Lazaridis received from the state. “Mr Lazaridis agreed to move to Greece following an agreement with the Ministry of Culture. He was deceived and did not receive even half of what he had been promised. We don’t want these mistakes to be repeated. That is why we have to be careful.”

He was also clear when stating the criteria for the selection of a new artistic director. “We want somebody who will have some experience in administration, on top of his artistic quality. Lazaridis was very good artistically, but did not fare too well at administration,” he said. He was also quick to dismiss rumors of maestro Loukas Karytinos, also a former artistic director, returning to his old position. The only thing that can be said so far is that there will be no change in the legislation which clearly states the responsibilities of the institution’s different directors. The future artistic director will still have the final word, on the condition that he has some management experience and is a team worker.

As expected, the program for the new season brings no surprises and bears Lazaridis’s signature all over. Verdi’s opera “Nabucco” staged last season too, will make the start on October 14 and will run through the end of the month (16, 18, 20, 23, 25 and 27). As this is a Puccini Year, celebrating the 150-year anniversary of his birth, there will be four of his operas: “Gianni Schicchi” will be staged on November 25, 27, 28, 20 and December 1 and 2 as part of a three-bill production further featuring Stravinsky’s “Mavra” and Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins;” “La Boheme” will go on stage throughout December and early January; “Tosca” will be performed next March and early April (March 21, 23, 26, 28, 30 and April 1, 3, 5) and “Turandot” will round off the season at the Herod Atticus Theater on June 1, 3, 5 and 7.

The operetta will also make a comeback with the tribute to Theofrastos Sakellarides. The program further features Manolis Kalomiris’s “The Masterbuilder” (January 25, 27, 29, 31), Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory” in February and on March 1 as well as Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra,” on May 4, 7, 9 and 11.

Lazaridis’s modernist approach is evident in “La Boheme” and “The Masterbuilder” and the balance is now more in favor of Greek opera singers over foreign ones. It should also be noted that ballet returns to the Olympia Theater, in more classic approaches.

Related Links > www.greeknationalopera.gr