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Nana Mouskouri’s last concert in Athens March 9, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Athens Festival, Music Life, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Nana Mouskouri is currently in Barcelona, where she will appear live on 14 March, during her farewell tour.

09-03-08_nana_mouskouri.jpg  Music fans will be able to enjoy Nana Mouskouri’s last concert in Athens, Greece. Eternally popular vocalist Nana Mouskouri will round off her career on July 23 at the Herod Atticus Theater, in Athens, Greece.

For detailed info please visit > http://www.greekfestival.gr

Nana’s Official Website > http://www.nanamouskouri.net/

Successful experiment continues at the Hellenic Festival March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Festivals, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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The Hellenic Festival’s program for 2008 follows format that was established just two years ago > Top dancer Sylvie Guillem will perform ‘Le Sacre de Printemps’ as part of the tribute to Maurice Bejart.

Ever since Giorgos Loukos took over, the Hellenic Festival has undergone an unprecedented change. By reaching out to young audiences and introducing new venues, from 2006 the institution has acquired a new identity.

This summer promises to continue the newly established tradition. At yesterday’s press conference Loukos announced the, once more, rich program, which has two novelties, a stronger emphasis on visual arts and on collaboration between foreign directors and Greek actors. Highlights include a tribute to the recently deceased dance master Maurice Bejart with Sylvie Guillem, choreographies by Trisha Brown and Pina Bausch and a dance performance with Mikhail Baryshnikov, but also Dimitris Papaioannou’s milestone performance “Medea”. Music fans will be able to enjoy Nana Mouskouri’s last concert.

“The Hellenic Festival may be the most popular and recognizable institution of the country. The experiment has worked,” said Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, who was present at the press conference. Pointing out the audience’s warm response and the sold-out performances, he went on to say that the festival can now claim its own position on the international cultural map.

“I am very pleased,” said Loukos, who explained the contrast with the beginning, in 2006, when everything was so uncertain. “We made mistakes but we learnt from them.” He proudly announced that various productions that opened at the Hellenic Festival, such as Michail Marmarinos’s “I’m Dying Like a Country” and Lefteris Vogiatzis’s “Antigone” will travel to international festivals and said that acclaimed institutions abroad, including London’s Old Vic Theater, have expressed their interest in working with the festival.

05-03-08_herod_atticus.jpg  The program at the trademark venue, the Herod Atticus Theater, will start with the Greek National Opera production of Puccini’s opera “Turandot” on June 1, 3, 5 and 7. The Paul Taylor Dance Company will take the stage on June 11, followed by the tribute to great 20th-century choreographer Bejart with top dancer Sylvie Guillem on June 16 and 17. In what Loukos described as a performance “not to be missed” and “a mixture of gospel and Greek tragedy,” Lee Breuer will present his take on the story of Greek mythical hero Oedipus with “The Gospel at Colonus” on June 21. June will end with a concert by composer Olivier Messiaen (23), a tribute to Greek variete and revues by Stamatis Kraounakis (27, 28) and a concert with classical pianist and jazzman Fazil Say (30).

July will kick off with soprano Renee Fleming in her first performance in Greece (July 3) and will continue with a Greek music extravaganza by Nikos Portokaloglou and various guests (July 6, 7). Distinguished maestro Riccardo Muti will lead the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra on July 8, followed by an evening of Ravel melodies with the Orchestre de Paris under Christophe Eschenbach (July 11). Stavros Xarchakos will pay tribute to Manos Hadjidakis (July 13), the Bolshoi Theater orchestra and choir will play compositions by Prokofiev (July 14) and the Cyprus Theater Organization will stage Aristophanes’ comedy “Plutus” (July 16). On July 18, the Lyceum of Greek Women will present a show based on percussion and the Karolos Koun Theatro Technis will perform Aristophanes’ “Birds” which was just staged in China (July 20, 21). Eternally popular vocalist Nana Mouskouri will round off her career on July 23. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will present his work with the Shaolin Monks (July 26) and composer Lena Platonos will follow (July 28). July will end with a concert by the Greek-Turkish Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy on the 29 and then singer-songwriter Paolo Conte (July 31). The program at the hugely popular Pireos 260 venue will kick off with a renewed version of Dimitris Papaioannou’s 1993 “Medea” (June 1 to 5). Choreographer Josef Nadj and artist Miquel Barcelo will experiment in “Paso Doble” (June 1 to 3) and the Theseum Ensemble will once more stage Dimitris Dimitriadis’s “I’m Dying Like a Country” directed by Michail Marmarinos (6, 7). The Compagnie Maguy Marin will perform June 8-10 and the Wooster Group will return for an original take on “Hamlet” (12-15). Mikhail Lermontov’s play “Masquerade” by Stathis Livathinos will go on stage June 24 to 26 and Yiannis Houvardas will present Oden von Horvath’s play “Tales from the Vienna Woods” (27-30).

The acclaimed Schaubuehne company will return with Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (June 29-July 1) and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (July 8-10,) directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov will dance July 3 to 8, then flamenco revolutionary Israel Galvan will perform July 10-12. The Trisha Brown Dance Company, that has only performed at the Kalamata International Dance Festival so far where Greece is concerned, will give two performances (12, 13) and French choreographer Alain Buffard will follow, July 15 and 16. Hanoch Levin’s play “Krum” by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski, will be staged July 16 to 18 and be followed by an adaptation of Josephine Hart’s novel “Damage” by Haralambos Gogios (21, 22). July will end with Mabou Mines and Lee Breuer’s award-winning performance of Ibsen’s “Dollhouse” (21-24), Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” directed by Cezaris Grauzinis (29-31) and Dimitris Kourtakis’s performance “Kafeneion” (30-31).

Highlights at the Athens Concert Hall include a 16th-century Chinese opera (June 12-14), Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” by the Lyon National Opera in a Greek first (July 7, 9) and Mussorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov” by the Bolshoi Opera (July 15, 16). There will also be concerts by string quartets mid- to end-June and the Greek Ensemble of Contemporary Music (July 24), a concert by pianist Fazil Say and percussionist Burhan Ocal (June 28, although the venue might change) and religious compositions by Les Talents Lyriques on June 27.

At the Scholeion venue, actress Aspassia Papathanassiou will do a reading on June 9 and drog_a_tek will present an audiovisual performance on June 12. Actresses Reni Pittaki and Loula Anagnostaki will join forces June 17 to 21 and Jean-Christophe Sais’s take on Euripides’ tragedy “Andromache” will be staged on June 22 and 23. The program will continue with Vassilis Alexakis’s play “Call Me by My Name” (June 29, 30), a tribute to mythological hero Oedipus by the Theater of Silence (July 1 to 5), and duets and solos from the contemporary Greek dance scene (July 7, 10). Renate Jett will present Heiner Mueller’s “Quartet” starring Betty Arvaniti and Christos Stergioglou July 15 to 20. Ethnic music, by the Taksim Trio, three Greek ensembles, Buika, Iranian singer Shahram Nazeri and Marta Sebestyen will follow (22-26). Ibsen’s “Ghosts” by Ektoras Lygizos will be staged July 27 to 31. July will end with Euripides’ tragedy “Bacchae” by Thomas Moschopoulos (30, 31).

Anastassia Lyra’s dance installation will inaugurate the Mikroskopiko Theater, June 21 to 23. The Technopolis Arts Complex will host once more the avant-garde Synch Festival June 13 to 15 and a modern art exhibition from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo collection will go on display at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex.

The Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama will open with Beckett’s “Happy Days” (July 4, 5) directed by Deborah Warner and starring Fiona Shaw, which was only staged for one night last summer because of the fires in the Peloponnese. The program then features Aristophanes’ “Frogs” by Dimitris Lignadis (July 11, 12), Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Pina Bausch and the Paris Opera (July 19, 20), Euripides’ “Phoenician Women” by the Spyros Evangelatos Amphi-Theater (July 25, 26), Euripides’ “Orestes” by the National Theater of Northern Greece (August 1, 2), a unified Greek National Theater production of Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” and “Oedipus at Colonus” by Roula Pateraki (August 8, 9), Euripides’ “Medea” by Anatoly Vasiliev (15, 16) and Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” by Angela Brouskou (22, 23).

The cozy Epidaurus Little Theater will host Matthias Langhoff’s take on Heiner Mueller’s play “Philoctetes” (June 27, 28), Mediterranean melodies by Savina Yannatou (July 11, 12), Britten’s “Curlew River” by the Lyon National Opera (July 10, 11), a concert with Periklis Koukos (July 18, 19) and a concert with George Emmanuel Lazaridis and Maria Farantouri (July 25, 26.)

For detailed info please visit > http://www.greekfestival.gr

Nana Mouskouri sets off on farewell tour after 40-year career October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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It could have all been so different. Back in 1966, a young Nana Mouskouri, then relatively little known outside mainland Europe, embarked on a tour of the US with Harry Belafonte.

greek_nana_mouskouri.jpg  It was a big moment in her embryonic career. The calypso legend loved Nana’s voice but when it came to her choice of eyewear he was unequivocal, insisting she ditch the black horn-rimmed specs on stage. According to the fairytale legend that is her life story, Nana acceded to his demands but grew deeply unhappy. After two days of sadness it was her turn to deliver the ultimatum to Belafonte, love me, love my glasses. The glasses stayed.

Forty years on, 450 albums, 230 gold and platinum discs and more than 300 million records sold later, Nana Mouskouri took to the stage of St David’s Hall in Cardiff last week still sporting those famous spectacles to begin the first British night of her epic farewell tour.

She will perform before sell-out crowds in Gateshead, London, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham before decamping to Saarbrucken in Germany where the world first took notice of the commercial potential of the young Greek singer with the nightingale voice. It was there that her German language version of “White Rose from Athens” sold more than a million copies.

The Nana musical juggernaut has already rolled across the US, North America and Ireland this year before going to Britain. After touring mainland Europe, she will then head to Australia, Asia and South America in 2008 where her loyal army of fans are waiting to bid their ageless heroine with the jet black hair and trademark centre parting, a tearful adieu.

It is not bad going for a woman who turned 73 two weeks ago. Though still clearly in rude good health and at the top of her game Mouskouri insists that, after singing for 50 years, it is time to make way for younger performers.

There can be little doubt that few singers coming through today in this increasingly fickle world can expect to emulate the kind of musical longevity she has enjoyed. Nor in this fast-moving digital age, where pop stars must reinvent themselves every few months to stay in touch, can they hope to do so by sticking so closely to the geeky image and basic musical formula that have proved so incredibly popular for Mouskouri over the decades.

Nana was born into a close-knit family in Chania, Crete, moving to Athens at the age of three. The city was occupied by the Nazis for much of her childhood yet her father, a film projectionist, and her mother who taught her the native folk songs, worked hard to get her and her sister into the Hellenic Conservatoire.

She recalls how, by night, her dad used to slip away to fight with the Greek resistance against the German invaders. Times were tough as well as dangerous and despite the money running out she continued to have lessons though her teacher’s desire for her to be the next Maria Callas could not survive her nights at the city’s Zaki club where she learned how to sing like her new heroines Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

Her route to fame was the Greek National song contest and Mouskouri was later to be something of the patron saint of the later Eurovision movement, first representing Luxembourg because her native land did not have television. She eventually made an emotional performance when the contest was finally held in Greece for the first time in 2006.

Marriage came along in 1961 and her fame spread to France and Germany before her first trip to New York with legendary impresario Quincy Jones. British audiences had to wait until 1968 when she made her first television appearances on Nana and Guests. At that time, however, the record shops were woefully unprepared and had to desperately seek out some of her records to satisfy the demands of her fans.

Yet the Nana story had another twist yet. In 1993 she was appointed as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, undertaking a mission to visit children in Bosnia. The following year she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament, representing the right wing Greek New Democracy party. She claims not to have liked politics, “it dries your heart” she once said, though despite being heckled by her fellow Eurocrats for her apparent guilelessnes, she proved an effective communicator, even joining forces with her old Eurovision sparring partner Dana when she ran for the Irish Presidency. In 1998, Mouskouri came back to the UK, that time seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles and campaigned across the world for women’s rights.

She served only one term as an MEP, returning to her Unicef work and making music. Having divorced her husband in the mid-70s, she lives with her partner Andre Chapelle and plans to dedicate the rest of her life to her family and her humanitarian work. While still wearing those glasses, of course.