Highlights at Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus include:

World premiere of new GNO production of Verdi’s Falstaff directed by Stephen Langridge featuring celebrated Greek baritones Dimitri Platanias and Tassis Christoyannis in the title role

Ten new opera and ballet productions including Cherubini’s Médée directed by David McVicar featuring title role debut of soprano Anna Pirozzi, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski and Le Voyage dans la Lune directed by Laurent Pelly, Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle directed by Themelis Glynatsis, Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by John Fulljames, and Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote choreographed by Thiago Bordin

Revival of Massenet’s Werther directed by—and dedicated to—Spyros Evangelatos featuring mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili in her role debut as Charlotte

World premiere of GNO commission Andrei: A Requiem in Eight Scenes by Dimitra Trypani based on the life of filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky

New production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly directed by Olivier Py and revival of Verdi’s Nabucco directed by Leo Muscato to be performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus as part of the 2023 Athens Epidaurus Festival

Continuation of GNO’s Mikis Theodorakis tribute cycle

ATHENS, GREECE (June 28, 2022) —  The Greek National Opera’s 2022-23 season curated by GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis features ten new opera and ballet productions, one newly commissioned opera, five revivals of past productions, music concerts, major co-productions with some of the world’s foremost opera houses, collaborations with leading directors and acclaimed conductors, and the debuts of top-tier opera singers in new roles. The season is presented in Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and in the outdoor amphitheater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in Athens. With the new season program the GNO—the only opera company in Greece—continues to forge important international partnerships while also celebrating and honoring Greek artists. The 2022-23 season, which runs from September 2022 through July 2023, is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

This season the GNO presents co-productions with a global network of major opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Opéra Comique (Paris), La Monnaie (Brussels), Göteborg Opera, and the Royal Danish Opera. Internationally acclaimed opera directors include John FulljamesStephen LangridgeDavid McVicarLaurent PellyOlivier Py, and Krzysztof Warlikowski alongside esteemed Greek directors Themelis Glynatsis and Natasha Triantafylli.

“Long-standing plans to expand the Greek National Opera’s repertoire have now been realized to form a core strand of our recent programming that has borne exceptional fruit and resonated deeply with audiences,” says Giorgos Koumendakis. “With this 2022-23 season, the GNO is emerging as a dynamic and enterprising member of an international network of opera houses.”

New productions include Cherubini’s Médée directed by David McVicar, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski and Le Voyage dans la Lune directed by Laurent Pelly, Verdi’s Falstaff directed by Stephen Langridge, Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle directed by Themelis Glynatsis, Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by John Fulljames, and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly directed by Olivier Py for the first time. 

“In the wake of some 90 works commissioned in recent years from Greek composers for our two stages, and for our online festivals, this year sees yet another original production staged inside the Stavros Niarchos Hall: Andrei,” says Koumendakis.

Andrei: A Requiem in Eight Scenes, by Dimitra Trypani about the influential and internationally revered Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, will have its world premiere in September. The GNO Ballet presents two new productions: the classic ballet Don Quixote and another production to be announced.

Revivals of past productions include Massenet’s Werther presented in honor of the late director and former GNO Artistic Director and President Spyros Evangelatos; Verdi’s Nabucco directed by Leo Muscato; The Magic Pillows by George Dousis and Eugene Trivizas; the 3 ROOMS dance triptych comprising choreographies by Jiří KyliánOhad Naharin and Konstantinos Rigos; and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi directed by John Fulljames. Gianni Schicchi features on a double bill with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle acknowledging that the two distinctly different operas premiered in the same year (1918).

This season’s productions will be conducted by Greek and international maestros including Philippe AuguinPaolo CarignaniVassilis ChristopoulosLukas KarytinosJacques LacombePier Giorgio MorandiOndrej OlosStathis SoulisNicolas Vassiliou, and Elias Voudouris. They will lead casts featuring Greek and international soloists including Tassos ApostolouNicole ChevalierYannis ChristopoulosTassis ChristoyannisCellia CosteaFrancesco DemuroVassiliki KarayanniVassilis KavayasMichèle LozierPetros MagoulasMarisia PapalexiouDimitri PlataniasAdam SmithDionysios Sourbis, and Christophoros Stamboglis among others. Two major international opera singers perform iconic roles for the first time: the leading mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as Charlotte in Werther and celebrated Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi as the title character in Médée.

“Incisive contemporary reappraisals of masterpieces of the opera canon bring the genre into the public discourse by posing questions and seeking out answers,” says Koumendakis. “This year, more than any other, directors on the vanguard of opera worldwide will be putting their own stamp on major operatic works. As in previous seasons, the GNO is celebrating Greek lead soloists once more, providing them with major opportunities to develop and spotlight their talents and merit. Alongside them, we are also featuring select, top-flight international artists to help give our output even greater prominence on the world stage.”

The company’s ongoing Mikis Theodorakis tribute cycle continues into the new season with performances of his Symphony No. 2, as well as his March of the Spirit set alongside a selection of his songs.

The 2022-23 season is a continuation of the work that began five years ago when the company—founded in Athens in 1939—relocated to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center that includes its main stage venue, the custom-built Renzo Piano-designed 1,400-seat Stavros Niarchos Hall. Supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org], the GNO’s vision is to be one of Europe’s most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talent and inspires large and diverse audiences.

“Without the extraordinary support provided by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), and the personal care and attention invested by its Co-President, Andreas Dracopoulos, the GNO would never have been in the position to present such a program, to enter into such co-production partnerships, and to be acknowledged as an opera house that sits at the very heart of Europe rather than on its margins,” says Koumendakis. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Greece’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, for the unequivocal support she has shown our work, and her Ministry staff for our ever-excellent working relationship.”

Andreas Dracopoulos, Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Co-President, says:

“A few years ago, when we decided to join the Greek National Opera’s efforts to develop its artistic outreach program, we firmly believed that it had all the qualities, the potential, and the people it needed—and, of course, the vision and guidance of Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis—to make a splash all over the world, from New York to Paris, and Denmark to Canada. Today, not only is the GNO’s name widely recognized, but its work will be proudly performed at the world’s most important opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and the Opéra Comique in Paris. What we believed from the beginning is now common knowledge: the Greek National Opera may be a national institution, but it has now also assumed its rightful role in the international art scene, deepening its work and expanding its audience. We are confident that Giorgos Koumendakis and the entire GNO family will continue to move us, surprise us, and make us proud, whether at their home base in Greece or at any other opera house in the world.” 

Tickets for the  September–December 2022 productions go on sale July 29, 2022, and can be purchased from the GNO Box Office and online via ticketservices.gr/en.

GREEK NATIONAL OPERA
2022-23 SEASON CALENDAR

Rehearsal of Andrei. Photos: Andreas Simopoulos.

Music Theater • GNO commission • New production
Andrei: A Requiem in Eight Scenes
Dimitra Trypani
September 25, 27, 28, 2022

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Concept, composition, music instruction, director, conductor: Dimitra Trypani
Original libretto: Pantelis Boukalas
Sets: Elena Stavropoulou • Costumes: Nikos Kokkalis • Choreography: Ermira Goro • Lighting: Valentina Tamiolaki • Sound design: Konstantinos Bokos
With (in alphabetical order): Iro BezouIrini Bilini-MoraitiThanasis DovrisValia KaragiorgaGiorgos KasavetisMarianna KavallieratosDimitra KokkinopoulouNandia KontogeorgiHara KotsaliChristina MaxouriGiorgos NikopoulosAlexandros PsihramisKalliopi SimouFotis SiotasAliki SioustiChristos ThanosSavina YannatouFanis Zachopoulos, and Nikos Ziaziaris.
With the participation of a nine-piece music ensemble

Andrei: A Requiem in Eight Scenes, a work by Dimitra Trypani, is a contemporary funeral liturgy for the celebrated Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986). The work is described by the composer as a “sound performance” with sound serving as the overarching narrative mode. Major “roles” are played by chromatic heterophonic and polyphonic structures, polystylistic approaches, and body percussion. The libretto, written by Pantelis Boukalas, uses the German text of the Lutheran Requiem Mass in dialogue with fragments drawn from Tarkovsky’s seven feature films.

Commissioned by the GNO, the work is presented in eight parts: an introductory scene followed by another seven scenes that correspond to the seven sections of the German Requiem Mass text and to the seven feature films Tarkovsky made during the course of his short life. Nineteen actors, dancers, and musicians perform as various versions of Tarkovsky, as well as non-fictional people and key imaginary characters from his films. Trypani notes: “The entire work is a Tarkovskian dream, since the real and unreal are interwoven through the music of the requiem that inundates the space.”

Based in Athens, Trypani is engaged in the creation of interdisciplinary music performances, using strictly structured polyrhythmic forms and heterophonic patterns in her approach to composing both music and speech. She has worked with numerous renowned orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, both in Greece and beyond. She is an associate professor in Music Theory and Composition with Interdisciplinary Practices at the Ionian University’s Department of Music.

Composer Mikis Theodorakis (1925-2021). Photo: Mikis Theodorakis Archive.

Concerts • Mikis Theodorakis tribute cycle
Symphony No. 2: The Song of the Earth
Mikis Theodorakis
October 2, 2022

Starts at: 6:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Elias Voudouris
Soloist: Titos Gouvelis
Children’s chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou
With the GNO Orchestra and Children’s Chorus

March of the Spirit and Songs by Mikis Theodorakis
October 5, 2022
Starts at: 7:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Stathis Soulis
Orchestration: Yannis BelonisYannis SamprovalakisAlexandros Livitsanos
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
Soloists: Maria FarantouriTassos ApostolouThodoris Voutsikakis
With the GNO Orchestra and Chorus

The GNO’s Mikis Theodorakis (1925-2021) tribute cycle continues with two major concerts featuring the GNO Orchestra and celebrated soloists. In the first concert, to be held on October 2, 2022 at the Stavros Niarchos Hall, the GNO Orchestra and Children’s Chorus—conducted by Elias Voudouris—perform Symphony No. 2: The Song of the Earth, a work that marked Theodorakis’ return to more “highbrow” music in 1980. For the creation of this particular symphony, Theodorakis drew source material from two works written during his 1954-1960 period: Suite No. 1 (1957), and the ballet Antigone (1957-58). In the work’s third part, the Children’s Chorus perform The Song of the Earth (with lyrics by Giannis Theodorakis), a short poetic piece that incorporates elements of the composer’s traumatic experiences of war, exile, and persecution. 

On October 5, 2022, the Greek singer Maria Farantouri, well known for her collaborations with Theodorakis, performs March of the Spirit with GNO bass soloist Tassos Apostolou, alongside a selection of songs by Theodorakis with Thodoris Voutsikakis, conducted by Stathis Soulis and with the participation of the GNO Orchestra and Chorus. Following Axion EstiMarch of the Spirit is Theodorakis’ second laïkó (“popular”—as in, ‘of the people’—or “folk”) oratorio, composed in 1969 in the village of Zatouna in Arcadia, where he had been banished and placed under house arrest by the Greek dictatorship of the time. Championing melodic simplicity and the use of folk instruments, and based on a patriotic poem by Angelos Sikelianos, the piece sought to send a clear message of opposition to the regime. The second part of the concert features the performance of a series of Theodorakis’ most popular songs orchestrated for a large symphony orchestra. Songs include “Streets of Old”, “The Song of Songs,” “The Laughing Boy,” “Marina,” “The Beautiful City” and “Dawn is Breaking.”

With the kind support of My Market

Don Giovanni. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos.

Opera • New production
Don Giovanni
W. A. Mozart
October 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 2022

Starts at: 7:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
In co-production with the Göteborg Opera (Sweden) and the Royal Danish Opera
Conductor: Ondrej Olos
Director: John Fulljames
Revival director: Aylin Bozok
Sets: Dick Bird • Costumes: Annemarie Woods
Choreography: Maxine Braham 
Lighting: Fabiana Piccioli • Lighting revival: Neill Brinkworth
Video design: Will Duke
Video programming: Dan Trenchard
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
Lead cast: Dionysios SourbisVassilis KavayasPetros MagoulasCellia CosteaYanni YannissisNikos Kotenidis, and others
With the Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

This international GNO co-production with the Göteborg Opera and Royal Danish Opera was filmed inside the Stavros Niarchos Hall in December 2021 without an audience and received its world premiere on the Greek National Opera’s online television channel (GNO TV). Now, following its Copenhagen presentation at the Royal Danish Opera, Don Giovanni returns to Athens for its Greek premiere before a live audience. The production is directed by acclaimed opera director and Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera, John Fulljames. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

In Don Giovanni—a seminal work in the opera repertoire—Mozart imbued his music with every possible perspective on the path chosen by a man who decides to defy God and take his fate firmly into his own hands.

Fulljames sets the action in a modern-day hotel—a city in microcosm and a temporary meeting place where what’s private is made public, and your stay is strictly limited. The director notes:

Don Giovanni is an enduring opera because it has so many aspects; there is broad humor and great theatrical set pieces, all in a dark thriller about a seducer who must be stopped. It is about how we live together in society and, as ever with opera, about how we face death. The climax is the long-awaited death of Don Giovanni himself as he chooses death, hell even, over denying who he is. His death is an expression of order reasserting itself over the unrestrained liberty he represents.”

Production sponsor: Alpha Bank

The Magic Pillows in Stavros Niarchos Hall. Photo: Valeria Isaeva.

Opera for all the family • Revival
The Magic Pillows
George Dousis / Eugene Trivizas
November 11, 12, 13, 20, 30  & December 1, 2022

Matinée performances at 11:00 a.m. / Evening performances at 6:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Nicolas Vassiliou
Director: Natasha Triantafylli
Sets: Tina Tzoka • Costumes: Ioanna Tsami
Movement director: Dimitra Mitropoulou • Lighting: Giorgos Tellos
Children’s chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou
Lead cast: the soloists Nicolas MaraziotisNikos KotenidisDionisios MelogiannidisVangelis ManiatisGeorge MattheakakisKostis RassidakisYannis Kavouras, and members of the GNO Children’s Chorus
With a small orchestral and choral ensemble, and with the participation of the GNO Children’s Chorus (as part of its educational mission)

“No matter what they take from you / there always still will be / something they can never touch / something yours to keep! / In times of woe and sorrow / your dreams shall ever be / a pot of gold, a hope to hold / your place of sanctuary!”

GNO’s The Magic Pillows, a two-act, family-friendly opera by composer George Dousis and children’s writer Eugene Trivizas returns to Stavros Niarchos Hall. The libretto is Mr. Trivizas’ own adaptation of his famous, much-translated and award-winning children’s story.

The hopeful, moving, and meaningful fairy tale by Trivizas tells the story of children at an unloved school and their inspiring teacher, who together take a stand against the greedy King Glorious the Omnificent, determined to reclaim their lost dreams. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

As the director herself notes:

The Magic Pillows is a story that shows us anew what stuff we are made of—courage and high spirits and zest for life. Stuff that sits, secret and eternal, deep inside us and can never be wiped out by the injustices of the world. Stuff that makes you gaze up at the sky and realize you are great, no matter how small! Such stuff as dreams are made of!”

Don Quixote. Photo: Andreas Simopoulos.

Ballet • New production
Don Quixote
Thiago Bordin, Marius Petipa / Ludwig Minkus
November 26, 27  & December  4, 23, 24, 30, 31, 2022

Starts at: 7:30 (Sunday & 31/12 at: 6:30)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Choreography: Thiago Bordin, based on the original choreography by Marius Petipa
Conductor: Stathis Soulis
Sets: George Souglides
Costumes: Mary Katrantzou
Lighting: Christos Tziogkas
Animation: Eirini Vianelli
With the Orchestra, Principal Dancers, Soloists, Demi-Soloists, and Corps de ballet of the Greek National Opera

The GNO Ballet presents a new production of Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote, one of the most celebrated ballets ever created. The choreography by Thiago Bordin is based on the classic original choreography by Marius Petipa, first presented in 1869 at the Bolshoi. The performances will be conducted by Stathis Soulis with sets by George Souglides and costumes by Mary Katrantzou. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Don Quixote is one of the most important and popular works in the classical ballet repertoire. Guided by the singular music of Minkus, the choreography tells a story imbued with the lofty ideals of knighthood and chivalry, touching audiences with its skillful mix of comedy and romance. Don Quixote is based on episodes drawn from the renowned novel by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) and published across two tomes, in 1605 and 1615 respectively. The ballet’s plot, which mainly draws from the latter tome, focuses on the tempestuous love affair between Kiteria—Kitri in the ballet—and Basilio. The adventures of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza, meanwhile, are treated here as secondary to the action.

For the creation of this new Don Quixote production, GNO Ballet Director Konstantinos Rigos sought out and selected artists of global renown including the choreographer Thiago Bordin to revive the classic original choreography by Petipa, internationally acclaimed Greek set designer George Souglides, and celebrated Greek fashion designer Mary Katrantzou for the costumes. Working alongside them are the animator Eirini Vianelli, and lighting designer Christos Tziogkas.

Production sponsor: Eurobank

Eric Cutler and Michèle Losier in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Photo: Bernd Uhlig, La Monnaie De Munt.

Opera • New production
Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Jacques Offenbach
December 18, 20, 22, 28, 29,  2022 & January 4, 5, 8, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
In co-production with La Monnaie (Brussels)
Conductor: Lukas Karytinos
Director: Krzysztof Warlikowski
Sets, costumes: Małgorzata Szczęśniak 
Lighting: Felice Ross • Video design: Denis Guéguin
Choreography: Claude Bardouil • Dramaturgy: Christian Longchamp
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
Lead cast: Adam SmithYannis ChristopoulosNicole ChevalierVassiliki KarayanniMichèle LozierMarisia PapalexiouTassos ApostolouPetros MagoulasChristophoros StamboglisYanni YannissisChristos KechrisYannis Kalyvas, and others
With the Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

Les Contes d’Hoffmann is the highly anticipated new Greek National Opera co-production with La Monnaie in Brussels, directed by renowned Polish opera and theater director Krzysztof Warlikowski, who takes on the challenge of revealing the essence of a work in which time and space are merely the remnants of a crumbled mosaic. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Les Contes d’Hoffmann has endured as one of the most popular of all French operas, standing alongside Carmen, Faust, and Manon. The libretto by Jules Barbier is based on stories written by the multi-talented E.T.A. Hoffman, whom Barbier made the opera’s protagonist. Three female figures—the soulless automaton Olympia, the critically ill singer Antonia, and the courtesan Giulietta—each display certain characteristics that together make up the prima donna Stella, the woman Hoffmann has fallen for. The love he feels for each of them is wrecked in each instance by an older man—three separate personas: Coppélius, Dr Miracle, and Dapertutto—whose various characteristics are revealed in composite by the wealthy Lindorf, with whom Stella departs at the opera’s end, leaving Hoffmann in despair. 

Offenbach passed away shortly prior to completing the opera. With its score completed by the composer Ernest Guiraud, the work met with enormous success. There have followed numerous painstaking attempts to reconstruct Offenbach’s score over many years, as new sections from the composer’s manuscripts containing valuable musical material continue to be discovered in various places, even in recent times. The GNO is presenting the opera as it appears in the most recent critical edition of the work, prepared by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck.

Warlikowski’s staging is driven by the fact that Les Contes d’Hoffmann has a particularly complex narrative, and by the realization that both score and libretto are without stable structure. These elements provide the director, and audiences, with the sense that the work is open to reinterpretation and redefinition. In an evolution of his signature directorial style, Warlikowski peers at the story of this opera through the prism of film, drawing inspiration from such cinematic works as A Star Is BornThe Shining, and Inland Empire, and even features an Academy Awards ceremony.

Production sponsors: Mytilineos – Eurobank

Director Stephen Langridge. Photo: Joakim Hovrevik, Göteborg Opera.

Opera • New production
Falstaff
Giuseppe Verdi
January 26, 29 & February 1, 4, 7, 10, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Pier Giorgio Morandi
Director: Stephen Langridge
Sets, costumes: George Souglides
Movement director: Dan O’Neill • Lighting: Peter Mumford
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
Children’s chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou
Lead cast: Dimitri PlataniasTassis ChristoyannisVassilis Kavayas, Cellia CosteaAnna Agathonos, and others
With the Orchestra, Chorus, Children’s Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

The GNO presents the world premiere of a new production of Verdi’s Falstaff, conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi and directed by the acclaimed director, and Artistic Director of the UK’s renowned Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Stephen Langridge. This much-anticipated new production heralds the first performances of Falstaff in Athens since the GNO’s 1993 production directed by the late Spyros Evangelatos. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Following his adaptation of the plays Macbeth and Othello, Verdi turned to Shakespeare one final time for a comedy: The Merry Wives of Windsor for what was to be—at the age of 80—his final opera. Central to the action is the washed-up old knight Sir John Falstaff, whose romantic misadventures make him a laughingstock in the provincial society of his small town. In the end, after a series of tragicomic situations have unfolded, all the work’s characters sing the following refrain together: “All the world’s a jest… but whoever laughs last, laughs best.” The opera has been called a masterpiece of the genre for its expressive economy and concise form and for its composer’s ability to encapsulate entire characters and situations with a single musical phrase.

Following his successful staging of Carmen at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus presented in 2016 and 2018, Langridge returns to the GNO to create this new production. He says:

Falstaff is a comedy in the deepest sense—often farcical, but also offering a window into the hearts of the characters. At the center of it all is Verdi and Shakespeare’s most loveable rogue: Falstaff himself. A liar, a cheat, a trickster; sensuous, vain, old-fashioned… We ought to disapprove, but we adore him in all his flawed humanity. Our production is set in England in the 1930s. A time between the wars (Falstaff was an old soldier), with a scandalous Prince of Wales (like Hal in Henry IV) who will briefly become King Edward VIII, and a time when the hierarchies are rigid, with social class more respected than money. Falstaff is based on Shakespeare’s only fully English comedy, but the end is pure Verdi / Boito. “Tutta nel mondo è burla” [all the world’s a jest] is their conclusion—and when we look around us at today’s chaotic world we can only agree, and then perhaps head off to the pub for a pint of warm ale and a laugh with Sir John!”

Production sponsor: Alpha Bank

Konstantinos Rigos’ The Pedal Tone for a Child. Photo: Valeria Isaeva.

Dance • Revival
3 ROOMS
Dance triptych with choreographies by Jiří Kylián, Ohad Naharin and Konstantinos Rigos
Greek National Opera Ballet
February 15, 16, 18, 19, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at: 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC

The GNO Ballet reprises its successful dance production 3 ROOMS, in which GNO Ballet Director Konstantinos Rigos enters into creative discourse on contemporary movement vocabularies with two of the dance world’s luminaries—the great Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián and the internationally acclaimed Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

The Pedal Tone for a Child, a new choreography by Konstantinos Rigos set to music by GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis, here encounters Jiří Kylián’s iconic Petite mort and Ohad Naharin’s celebrated Minus 16 in what is an opportunity for the dancers of the GNO Ballet to pit themselves against the particular performative challenges of these three works. Joining the dancers of the GNO Ballet on stage for the choreography by Rigos are student performers from the GNO Professional Dance School and the Greek National School of Dance (KSOT).

The Pedal Tone for a Child
Choreography, set: Konstantinos Rigos
Music: Giorgos Koumendakis
Costumes: Giorgos Segredakis • Associate architect: Mary Tsagari
Lighting: Eleftheria Deko
GNO Ballet Director Konstantinos Rigos presents a new choreography for a piece by Giorgos Koumendakis, The Pedal Tone for a Child. The work, inspired by Byzantine music, explores the world of nature and of tradition, transporting the audience into a dystopian and forsaken black-and-white world where an abandoned advertising billboard stands like a scarecrow on the far horizon.

Petite mort
Choreography, sets and light designs: Jiří Kylián
Music: W. A. Mozart
Costumes: Joke Visser
The celebrated Jiří Kylián, who served as Artistic Director of the Nederlands Dans Theater from 1975 to 1999, first presented this choreography in Salzburg to mark the bicentennial of Mozart’s death, setting the work to slow movements taken from two of Mozart’s most popular Piano Concertos, Nos. 21 and 23.

Minus 16
Choreography, costumes: Ohad Naharin
Lighting: Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi)
Using music that ranges from Dean Martin to mambo, and from techno to traditional Israeli melodies, the current House Choreographer and former Artistic Director (1990 to 2019) of the renowned Batsheva Dance Company, Ohad Naharin, created Minus 16, a piece that eliminates the barrier between its dancers and the audience in unique and unpredictable ways.

Gianni Schicchi. Photo: Stefanos Kyriakopoulos.

Opera double bill
Bluebeard’s Castle – Béla Bartók & Gianni Schicchi – Giacomo Puccini
March 9, 12, 19, 24,  2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m.  (Sunday at: 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Vassilis Christopoulos
With the Orchestra and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

The GNO presents a double bill of two one-act operas that premiered in the same year (1918) in Budapest and New York respectively: one dramatic – Bluebeard’s Castle in a new production with staging by Themelis Glynatsis; the other comic – Gianni Schicchi directed by John Fulljames. The evening opens with Bartók’s brooding and bloody masterpiece, and closes with Puccini’s dark comedy, a light-hearted farce considered the most radiant and joyous work in the composer’s oeuvre. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Bluebeard’s Castle – Béla Bartók • New production
Director: Themelis Glynatsis
Sets, costumes: Leslie Travers
Projection design: Marios GampierakisChrysoula Korovesi
Sound design: Tasos Tsigkas
Soloists: Tassos ApostolouVioletta Lousta

Bluebeard’s Castle by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók is based on the folktale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault, published in 1697. A rare work of crisp concision, Bartók’s opera has just two characters—Bluebeard and his most recent wife, Judith. Wishing to learn more about her husband’s past, Judith opens the seven doors inside Bluebeard’s castle, one after the other. Behind each she finds a different world, untold riches, the glory and heroism of her husband—but also pain, tears, and blood. The symbolist text written by Béla Balázs gave Bartók the opportunity to compose one of his most impressive scores, one that makes full use of the timbres offered up by an exceptionally large orchestra—including the imposing tones of a church organ—to delineate each of the work’s images with incredible power.

The work’s director, Themelis Glynatsis, notes:

“The Bluebeard folktale, one of the bloodiest stories in the western canon, tells of an aristocrat who marries young women only to murder them when they defy his command forbidding them to explore his castle. Bartók transforms the Bluebeard story into a contemporary operatic thriller, one deeply mystical, suffused with symbolism, and marked by an uncommon psychological lucidity and emotional intensity. Bluebeard’s Castle, the only opera the Hungarian composer ever wrote, is seen as one of the most important operatic works of the 20th century due to its ground-breaking music and dramaturgical approach. The work functions as a symbolist anatomy of a human relationship, and as a descent into the labyrinthine psyche that lies hidden inside the mysterious blue-bearded duke. This production takes a conscious step away from the serial killer lore that usually trails the work to focus instead on a man and a woman on their wedding night, sinking gradually ever deeper into a universe consisting of multiple realities and psychological trauma, repressed memories and unfamiliar spaces.”

Gianni Schicchi – Giacomo Puccini • Revival
Director: John Fulljames
Sets, costumes: Richard Hudson
In the title role: Dionysios Sourbis

The second part of this double bill—a polar opposite to the evening’s first work—brings a dark, borderline grotesque comedy to the stage. The libretto by Giovacchino Forzano is based on an episode that appears in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Following the death of a rich man, the wily Gianni Schicchi helps the relatives of the departed—and himself—to pocket his substantial estate. The similarities between Gianni Schicchi and the equally comic Falstaff are obvious but, in contrast to Verdi, Puccini does not portray specific, individualized characters with his music but rather renders stock character types in the manner of the commedia dell’arte tradition. On its first presentation in Rome the work was considered the composer’s most sparkling and, as such, considerably welcome in the bleak moments following the First World War. With expressive economy and only the most essential of musical strokes, Puccini creates portraits capturing each of the many relatives, and naturally the protagonist too. The opera is also famous for its short aria “O mio babbino caro” (“O my dear papa”), which Maria Callas regularly performed at her recitals.

The GNO is reviving one of its most popular productions, directed by John Fulljames, that was programmed by its then Artistic Director Stefanos Lazaridis to premiere during the 2007-08 season at the Olympia Theatre.

Spyros Evangelatos’ production of Werther. Photo: M. Stafylidou.

Opera • Revival
Werther
Jules Massenet
March 23, 26, 28, 31 & April 2, 4, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at: 6:30 p.m.) 
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Jacques Lacombe
Director: Spyros Evangelatos
Sets, costumes: Giorgos Patsas
Children’s chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou
In the role of Werther: Francesco Demuro
Debuting in the role of Charlotte: Anita Rachvelishvili
With the Orchestra, Children’s Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

This production of Werther, first presented by the GNO in 2014 at the Olympia Theatre, was the last opera to be directed by Spyros Evangelatos (1940-2017), a legendary figure of Greece’s theater and opera scene. Evangelatos served as the GNO’s Artistic Director and Chair of the Board for many years and, alongside his extensive work in the theater, directed a series of popular operas by Verdi, Bizet, Puccini, Rossini, Mozart, Britten, and others to great success. This revival is presented in tribute to him. Conducted by Jacques Lacombe with sets and costumes by Giorgos Patsas, this production features the debut of leading mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili in the role of Charlotte. Performing the title role is Italian tenor Francesco Demuro, who recently thrilled audiences in the GNO’s production of Rigoletto at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus directed by Katerina Evangelatos. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach. 

Werther, written around a century after the epistolary novel by Goethe upon which it is based, tells the story of a doomed love affair between the young Werther and Charlotte. Once Werther realizes there is no hope for their love, he takes his own life. Charlotte, who has realized the urgency of the situation, rushes to be by his side, reaching him just before he dies. As with Goethe’s Faust (which in opera form became best known in the version by Gounod), Werther also won over the opera world. Massenet’s opera—which skillfully captures both the poetic nature of the idealistic Werther and the prisoner to social convention that is Charlotte—enjoyed huge success in its own time. The opera departs from the original text in crucial ways: while it retains the theme of challenging social hierarchies and received convention, it dispenses in large part with the work’s philosophical musings. The fate of Goethe’s hero inspired Massenet to pen a score of immense lyricism and remarkable sensitivity that does not lack for powerful dramatic outbursts.

Concert • Mikis Theodorakis tribute cycle
Mikis Theodorakis: Tracing His Footsteps through Time
Pallini Music High School
March 30, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
With the participation of the Pallini Music High School’s music ensembles

The Pallini Music High School, in partnership with the Greek National Opera, presents a concert performance featuring its music ensembles in Stavros Niarchos Hall for an evening dedicated to the life and work of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.

The school’s chamber orchestra, philharmonic orchestra, and chorus highlights the varied relationships between Theodorakis’ music and Greek musical traditions including éntekhno (Greek art song) and Greek poetry. The school’s laïkó (Greek folk) orchestra performs some of his best-known songs and melodies and traditional musicians shall marry the Byzantine east with the literary west.

The Pallini Music High School, founded in 1988, was the first such state music school in Greece. In addition to its regular curriculum, the school has introduced a number of annual music and educational events held at the school itself and at other venues, in partnership with a range of institutions that include the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Goethe-Institut Athen, L’Institut français de Grèce, Onassis Stegi, Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and the Pallas Theatre.

Médée in tech rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo: Jonathan Tichler.

Opera • New production
Médée
Luigi Cherubini
April 25, 28, 30 & May 3, 9, 14, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at: 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
In co-production with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Conductor: Philippe Auguin
Director, sets: David McVicar
Costumes: Doey Lüthi
Lighting: Paule Constable
Projection design: S. Katy Tucker
Movement director: Jo Meredith
Debuting in the title role: Anna Pirozzi
With the Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

Cherubini’s Médée is the Greek National Opera’s first major co-production with three leading North American opera houses: the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The production, staged by the celebrated opera director David McVicar, opens the Met’s 2022-23 season before being presented at the Stavros Niarchos Hall in April-May 2023, followed by performances  in Montreal and Chicago. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

First presented in Paris in 1797 but overlooked for many decades, Médée was brought back into the limelight when Maria Callas first performed the title role in 1953 at the Florence May Festival. The revival was met with great success and, thanks to Callas’ extraordinary musical and acting abilities, the music world rediscovered a thrilling work so unfairly forgotten. The Greek diva went on to perform the role of Médée on numerous other stages, culminating in her historic 1961 appearance with the Greek National Opera at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, directed by Alexis Minotis and with sets and costumes by Yannis Tsarouchis.

This rarely performed masterpiece with a libretto based on Euripides’ Medea, is to be presented in a monumental new production–classic and atmospheric, contemporary but for the ages– directed and with sets by David McVicar, one of the great British stage directors. Costumes are by Doey Lüthi and lighting is by Paule Constable, with projection design by S. Katy Tucker and movement direction by Jo Meredith. Debuting in the exceptionally demanding title role in Athens is the internationally acclaimed Italian soprano, Anna Pirozzi.

Production sponsor: Piraeus Bank

Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Photo: M. Asthenidis-Gallery.

Opera • New production
Madama Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini
June 1, 4, 7, 10, 2023

Starts at: 9:00 p.m.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
As part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival
Conductor: Vassilis Christopoulos
Director: Olivier Py
Sets, costumes: Pierre-André Weitz
Lighting: Bertrand Killy
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
With the Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

Following his acclaimed 2020 production of Wozzeck, leading French director and Director of the Festival d’Avignon Olivier Py returns to the GNO to stage one of Puccini’s most popular masterpieces, Madama Butterfly, at the 4,680-seat Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Py, who has directed more than 40 works of opera around the world, stages Madama Butterfly for the first time, placing the orchestra on the stage at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and filling the Roman outdoor venue with the aesthetics and colors of Japan, as filtered through his own signature directorial style. Working with him to create the sets and costumes is his long-time collaborator Pierre-André Weitz.

Puccini’s “Japanese tragedy,” first presented at La Scala in Milan in 1904, tells the story of the star-crossed love harbored by the fifteen-year-old geisha Cio-Cio-San for Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy who, on leaving for America, promises his return but deserts her, leaving her desperately poor and with child. The author John Luther Long was inspired by an account of a real-life young geisha called Cio-Cio-San recounted to him by his sister, who had lived in Nagasaki. His short story formed the basis for a play and, subsequently, Puccini’s opera.

Madama Butterfly never strays from the principles of verismo, with its intense clashes and love of theatrical flourishes. In this vein, the score carefully selects how best to embellish each and every moment. Orchestral influences drawn from the musical universes of Debussy and Ravel, singular elements taken from the Japanese musical tradition, striking escalations, chamber music aspects, and eruptions featuring the entire orchestra charge the opera with its particular pulsating exuberance and unique vivacity.

Production sponsors: Eurobank & Mytilineos

Le Voyage dans la Lune. Photo: Stefan Brion, Opera Comique.

Opera for the family • New production
Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon)
Jacques Offenbach
July 12, 13, 2023

Starts at: 7:30 p.m.(Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
In co-production with the Opéra Comique (Paris)
Conductor: Elias Voudouris
Director, costumes: Laurent Pelly
Libretto adaptation and new version of the dialogue: Agathe Mélinand
Sets: Barbara de Limburg
Lighting: Joël Adam
Children’s chorus mistress: Konstantina Pitsiakou

The Greek National Opera’s partners with one of the most important and historic opera houses in Europe, the Opéra Comique in Paris, for an adaptation of Offenbach’s Le Voyage dans la Lune, staged and with costumes by the acclaimed French director Laurent Pelly, and featuring the children’s and youth choruses of both institutions. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

Le Voyage dans la Lune is a four-act “opéra-féérie” by Jacques Offenbach, with a libretto by Albert Vanloo, Eugène Leterrier, and Arnold Mortier based loosely on the Jules Verne novels From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Written in the wake of the success enjoyed by the novels, the story combines fantastical elements with the scientific achievements of the time. The original 1875 production invested heavily in phantasmagoria and grand spectacle elements including two ballet troupes as well as 20 painted backdrops and 673 costumes designed specially for the purposes of the production. Audiences were also treated to the sight of a cannon on stage, which shot the characters to the Moon, not to mention a volcanic eruption and a rendition of the Paris Observatory’s main hall. In 1876, Le Voyage dans la Lune was presented in London and Vienna and its sensational Paris run ended after a total of 185 performances, only for the show to open again on a new stage before the year was out.

In this new adaptation of the work, the complex scenic demands made by the libretto give way to the imagination, while the libretto, music, and staging create a dream-like world for the young performers of the Children’s and Youth Choruses of the GNO and Opéra Comique. Brought together inside a giant playground are the inhabitants of the Earth and Moon with children dressed like grown-ups to play kings and laypeople, astronomers and princes and government ministers, but also children there to protest, fighting for the climate and for an Earth that’s drowning under rubbish dumps.

Nabucco in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Photo: Aris Messinis.

Opera • Revival
Nabucco
Giuseppe Verdi
July 26, 27, 29, 30, 2023

Starts at: 9:00 p.m.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
As part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival
Conductor: Paolo Carignani
Director: Leo Muscato
Sets: Tiziano Santi
Costumes: Silvia Aymonino
Lighting: Alessandro Verazzi
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
In the title role: Dimitri Platanias and Tassis Christoyannis
With the Orchestra, Chorus, and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

The GNO’s popular production of Nabucco created in 2018 is being revived for four performances at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023, conducted by Paolo Carignani and directed by Leo Muscato. The production is conducted by Italian maestro Paolo Carignani, making his GNO debut.

Nabucco is considered one of Verdi’s greatest operas, the work sealing his place as the most important Italian composer of the 19th century, and becoming a symbol in the struggle for the unification of Italy. 

The plot is about the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites imposed by King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco). When he, in a display of arrogance, demands they all worship him as their god, lightning strikes him down. Once Nabucco recognises Jehovah as the one true God, he comes back to his senses, releasing the Israelites and giving his blessing for the union of his true daughter Fenena with Ismaele, the King of Jerusalem’s nephew. Abigaille, who usurped the throne of Nabucco, also turns to Jehovah by the end.

Director Muscato is among the most dynamic, up-and-coming opera directors working in Italy today having directed successful productions at leading Italian opera houses in Rome, Venice, Florence, Torino, and elsewhere. He notes of the production:

“… there is no desire to conform to historical accuracy: the aesthetic identity of the settings and costumes aims at rendering an abstract place and time, so that attention is focused on the essence… the tragedy of deported and enslaved Jews reminds us on the one hand of the Nazi concentration camps tragedy, and on the other hand, it seems a lot like the torture systems adopted at contemporary detention camps, such as those of Guantanamo.”

ABOUT GREEK NATIONAL OPERA

Founded in 1939, the Greek National Opera is a public body and the sole opera house in Greece. It produces and stages operas, musical theater, operettas, and ballets, and multi-disciplinary productions for its two stages at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Alternative Stage, as well as at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an open-air theater in the center of Athens. The company’s repertory covers four centuries of lyrical theater, from the works of Claudio Monteverdi to those of contemporary composers. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera were both founded in 1939 alongside the opera company, then a part of the Royal Theatre, and a Children’s Chorus was founded in 2012.  In addition to its opera programming, the GNO also encompasses the GNO Professional School of Dance, as well as education and community programs aimed at all age groups.

The GNO’s vision is to be one of Europe’s most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talent and inspires large and diverse audiences. Led by artistic director Giorgos Koumendakis and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org], its mission is to offer audiences high caliber productions by presenting operas, ballets, operettas, operas for children, and music recitals, among other events. The GNO’s main source of funding is the Greek State and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Over 60% of its annual budget is covered by state funding, with the rest coming from ticket proceeds, private sponsorship, and grants. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is the Greek National Opera’s biggest donor and to date, its grants to the GNO amount to €27.5 million.

A turning point in its history came in 2017 when the GNO relocated to a new state-of-the-art building at the architecturally striking Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which was conceived, designed, constructed, and equipped with a substantial grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Following completion, the SNFCC was delivered to the Greek state and the public in February 2017 through the SNF’s largest grant initiative to date, totalling €618 million. Assisted by a €5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the GNO relocated from Athens’ Olympia Theatre to the SFNCC and the two, purpose-built theaters designed by Renzo Piano, doubling its audience capacity to 1,400 seats in the opera hall and also doubling its ticket revenues.  

The hall’s inaugural production in October 2017 was Strauss’ Elektra, starring the celebrated Greek mezzo Agnes Baltsa as Klytaemnestra. In 2019 a major grant of €20 million was announced by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to support the implementation of a four-year programming and development plan that will enhance the artistic outreach of the GNO and increase the promotion of its work overseas. The same year the GNO celebrated its 80th anniversary, commissioning and presenting works to reintroduce itself to the Greek and global audience through its new artistic identity and mission. This programming has included, among others: Verdi’s Don Carlo, a co-production of the Royal Opera House, London, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Norwegian National Opera ,Oslo, directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner; Berg’s Wozzeck directed by Olivier Py; Marina Abramović’s 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a co-production with Opéra national de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro di San Carlo; and Verdi’s Otello, a co-production with  Festspiel Baden-Baden directed by Robert Wilson.

For more information, visit nationalopera.gr/en.