ATHENS, GREECE (JANUARY 4, 2023) — The Greek National Opera (GNO) today announced that—in accordance with a decision by the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Ms. Lina Mendon—GNO Artistic Director and composer Giorgos Koumendakis’ tenure as has been renewed for three additional years, from 2023-2026.

Giorgos Koumendakis was appointed Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera in February 2017 and is now the first Artistic Director in the organisation’s history to serve for a third consecutive term.

Giorgos Koumendakis said: “The renewal of my tenure at the Greek National Opera for three more years is a source of great joy for me, and a particular honour. I would like to thank the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Ms. Lina Mendoni, for the trust she has placed in me, and for the unequivocal support she has shown the Greek National Opera.

“While my first term (2017-2020) was focused on laying the foundations for the new artistic identity to be taken on by our organisation, which had just made the move to its new home at the SNFCC—built and fitted out through a donation made by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation—and my second three-year term (2020-2023) essentially set about redefining how the organisation operates, and oversaw its complete relaunch in the midst of a pandemic, my third term (2023-2026) will see us fix our attentions on further advancement and development, as well as greater outreach, with a view to realising our vision for the creation of a truly 21st-century opera house.

“In this moment—one so important both for me personally, and for the ongoing history of the organisation—I would like to thank the GNO Board of Directors, my associates, and all the artistic, technical, administrative, and other staff working at the organisation.”

Giorgos Koumendakis served as the arts program manager of the GNO’s Alternative Stage (2015-2017), for which he planned innovative programs and productions based on artistic, educational, and social criteria. In February 2017, he assumed the role of Artistic Director, and in the first three years of his administration, the company relocated to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center where he oversees the operation of its two stages. In this time Mr. Koumandakis has expanded the GNO’s repertoire, developed a large network of international partnerships, commissioned new operas, collaborated with distinguished artists from Greece and abroad, developed dozens of learning and participation programs, presented world-class productions, and increased the company’s audience within and outside Greece. Under his leadership the company has attracted considerable private sponsorships, stabilized its financial and administrative operations, and developed an important and continuing connection with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, now its lead donor.

Mr. Koumendakis was born in Rethymno, Greece in 1959 and is considered one of the country’s most gifted and versatile composers.  In addition to his numerous pieces of symphonic and chamber music, a large part of his artistic career has been devoted to composing music for theater, cinema, dance, and opera.

He has composed four operas, most notably the The Murderess that was commissioned and premiered by the Greek National Opera (GNO) in 2014. Based on the “social novel” of the same name by the revered Greek author Alexandros Papadiamandis (1851-1911), the two-act opera combines elements of traditional Greek music with contemporary European style. The Murderess was reprised by the GNO in December 2021 at the Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, where the GNO is a resident company.

Mr. Koumendakis’ achieved international recognition in 1985 when he was chosen by György Ligeti to compose Symmolpa V. A few months later he represented Greece in the Venice Biennale. In 1987, he began collaborating with the renowned contemporary French ensemble, Ensemble InterContemporain, gaining broader international recognition including being awarded the Prix de Rome in 1992, an honorary scholarship, entailing a year-long creative residency at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome.

In 1992 Mr. Koumendakis also began a long-standing creative partnership with choreographer and director Dimitris Papaioannou and the Edafos Dance Theater that reached its peak with the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, for which Koumendakis served as music director and composer. 

Mr. Koumandakis has worked with leading artists in the fields of theater, opera, and dance including Karolos Koun, Stefanos Lazaridis, Yannis Houvardas, Roula Pateraki, and Rallou Manou among others. He has also served as the artistic director of the musical ensemble Nikos Skalkotas, the Kyklos Ensemble, and the Rethymno Renaissance Festival, and as the arts program manager for the Cultural Foundation of Tinos.

His works have been presented throughout the world, in prestigious concert halls and theaters including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw, the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, France’s Salle Olivier Messiaen and Théâtre de l’Archevêché, Italy’s Teatro La Fenice, Auditorio Nacional de Música, and Piccolo Teatro, Belgrade’s Guarnerius Art Centre, Germany’s Alte Oper, China’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, and Japan’s Benesse Museum.  His works are performed throughout Greece, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and Megaron-The Athens Concert Hall.