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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 

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]

http://www.thessalonikicity.gr/English/index.htm

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

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
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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

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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

Tonight in the Capital > Athens events September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs, Stage & Theater.
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Maria Callas Tribute > Seven sopranos, Martha Arapi, Jenny Drivala, Dimitra Theodossiou, Vassiliki Karayianni, Mata Katsouli, Elena Kelessidi and Julia Souglakou, will pay tribute to Maria Callas at the Olympia Theater, with a program of arias accompanied by the Greek National Opera Orchestra under Ilias Voudouris.
At the Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461.

Mario Frangoulis Concert > Tenor Mario Frangoulis will give a concert in aid of the Argo Foundation for children with special needs at Piraeus’s Katrakeio Theater tonight, joined by soprano Deborah Myers. Tickets can be purchased at Metropolis music stores and at Argo, tel 210 4210096.
Katrakeio Theater, Akropoleos and Nestoros Street, Piraeus, tel 210 4927467.

Runciman Tribute Show > “On the Corner of Karolou Dil and Tsimiski,” Giorgos Andreou and Thodoris Gonis’s music and theater tribute to Byzantinist Sir Steven Runciman starring Syrmo Keke, Athina Maximou, Evi Saoulidou and Eleni Tsaligopoulou, will go on stage for the second time at the Athens Concert Hall tonight.
Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.

Greek Rock Festival > Rocker Nikos Portokaloglou will lead a Greek music festival at the Vrachon Theater tonight, along with Manolis Famellos, Zak Stefanou, Nikos Ziogalas, Stathis Drogossis, Odysseas Tsakalos and others. Tickets are available at Metropolis music stores and at the Vyronas Cultural Center.
Vrachon Theater, Vyronas, tel 210 7626438.

Corda di Vento > The Corda di Vento music ensemble will perform compositions by Ginastera, Bernstein, Piazzolla and Brahms at the American College of Greece tonight. The concert will start at 8.30 p.m. and admission is 10 euros.
Americal College of Greece, 6 Gravias Street, Aghia Paraskevi, Athens, tel 210 6009800.

Goran Bregovic Concert > Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band will play Gypsy melodies and much more at Petroupolis’s Petra Theater this evening. Tickets can be purchased at Metropolis music stores and the Ianos Bookstore at 24 Stadiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3217917.
Petra Theater, Damari Petroupolis, Athens, tel 210 5012402.

What’s On in Athens > venues, concerts September 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Festivals, Arts Museums, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Alavastro Cafe, 78 Damareos Street, Pangrati, Athens, tel 210 7560102.
Tonight > Gospel and jazz improvisations by the Honey Workstation. Admission is 8 euros.
Tomorrow > Jazz improvisations by Nikos Kapilidis and the Jazz Utopia.
Friday > Contemporary Greek entechno songs by Graviton.
Saturday > Worldbeat-jazz compositions, with Balkan sounds and improvisations, by the Anakata quartet.

American College of Greece, 6 Gravias Street, Aghia Paraskevi, Athens, tel 210 6009800.
Friday > The Corda di Vento music ensemble, cellist Amalia Yiannopoulou, clarinetist Federico Palacios Delgado and pianist Haralambos Angelopoulos, will perform works by Ginastera, Bernstein, Piazzolla and Brahms. Starts at 8.30 p.m. Admission is 10 euros.

Kifissia Menandreia 2007 Festival, For information tel 210 6232506 and 210 6289000. Events take place at different venues around Kifissia.
Thursday > Tango music and dance performance by the Tango Argentino Total and singer Bruno Dando. Starts at 8.30 p.m. at the Kifissia Town Hall, Dionyssou and Myrsinis Street. Admission is free.

Museum of Greek Musical Instruments, 1-3 Diogenous Street, Plaka, Athens, tel 210 3250198. Shows start at 9.30 p.m. and admission is 10 euros.
Tonight > Traditional and folk music from Crete and Smyrna, by Nikos Androulakis.
Tomorrow > Eastern melodies by Haig Yazdjian.
Thursday > Guitar ballads with Notis Mavroudis and Panayiotis Margaris.
Friday > Ethnic by Family Voices.

Olympia Theater, Greek National Opera, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461 and 210 3643725.
Friday > Tribute to Maria Callas, by sopranos Martha Arapi, Jenny Drivala, Dimitra Theodossiou, Vassiliki Karayianni, Mata Katsouli, Elena Kelessidi and Julia Souglakou, who will be accompanied by the Greek National Opera Orchestra, under the baton of Ilias Voudouris. The opera singers will perform arias by Donizetti, Bellini, Puccini, Verdi and other composers. Starts at 8 p.m.

Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro), Vasileos Constantinou Avenue, Athens.
October 1 > Concert in aid of people stricken by recent fires, by tenor Andrea Bocelli, who will be joined by the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marcello Rota. Starts at 8.30 p.m. Tickets are available at Ticketnet, www.ticketnet.gr, and on tel 210 8840600.

Petra Theater, Damari, Petroupolis, Athens, tel 210 5012402.
Tickets are available at www.i-ticket.gr, on tel 801 1160000 as well as 210 6786000, at Metropolis music stores, at the Must music stores in Petroupolis and at Cine Petroupolis at 168 25th Martiou Street, Petroupolis, tel 210 5012391.
Tomorrow > Greek rockers Lavrentis Machairitsas, Sakis Boulas, Antonis Mitzelos and Dimitris Starovas will join forces, along with singer Eleonora Zouganeli, with part of the proceeds going to those stricken by fires in the Peloponnese. Starts at 8.30 p.m.
Friday > Gypsy melodies and much more, by Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band. Starts at 9 p.m.

Roman Forum, Plaka, Athens.
Thursday >
Poetry and music soiree-tribute to poet C.P. Cavafy. Starts at 9 p.m.

Vyronas Festival, Vrachon Theater, Vyronas, Athens, tel 210 7626438 and 210 7626738. Tickets can be purchased at the Vyronas Festival box office in Syntagma Square, Vyronas Town Hall at 32-36 Karaoli and Dimitriou Street, the Vyronas Municipal Center at Kyprou and Evangelikis Scholis Street, the theater box office, Metropolis music stores and online at www.i-ticket.gr and www.ticketservices.gr.
Tomorrow > Tenor Mario Frangoulis and singer Elli Paspala will join forces in a tribute to composer Manos Hadjidakis, along with the Manos Hadjidakis Music Ensemble, which will be conducted by Loukas Karytinos. Starts at 9 p.m. Admission is 25 euros.
Friday > One-day music festival featuring performances by Nikos Portokaloglou, Odysseas Tsakalos, Vassiliki Karakosta, Nikos Ziogalas, Manolis Famellos, Stathis Drogossis and various new bands.