Programs commemorating the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution, including Giordano’s Andrea Chénier featuring tenor Marcelo Álvarez and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek; the world premiere of Jus soli, an oratorio by Turkish composer Kamran Ince; and a concert performance of Mikis Theodorakis’ groundbreaking The Songs of Struggle
Greek premiere of Robert Wilson’s acclaimed production of Verdi’s Otello featuring tenor Aleksandrs Antoņenko in the title role
World premiere of GNO-commissioned Inland by Angelos Triantafyllou with a libretto by poet Giannis Asteris
World premiere of short film, Bleat, by celebrated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) starring Emma Stone and Damien Bonnard with live music accompaniment
Performances of Rigoletto and Tosca at the ancient outdoor Odeon of Herodes Atticus as part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival
3 Rooms, a dance triptych with choreography by Konstantinos Rigos, Jiří Kylián, and Ohad Naharin performed by Greek National Opera Ballet
ATHENS, GREECE (DECEMBER 8, 2021) — The Greek National Opera (GNO) today announced programming for the second half of its 2021-22 season, which runs from January through July 2022, with performances at Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) alongside outdoor performances at the ancient outdoor amphitheater, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in Athens. Featuring six operas, three concert performances, a dance performance, and a film premiere, the lineup includes several productions dedicated to celebrating 200 years since the Greek revolution began, as well as three world premieres. The program is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach and also to create a tribute to the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.
“The Greek National Opera is returning to the full breadth and scope of its artistic programming, offering up art in all its hope and joy with a view to leaving recent difficult times—marked by isolation, loneliness, and fear—far behind,” said GNO Artistic Director, Giorgos Koumendakis. “Though the pressures of the pandemic are still with us, the Greek National Opera is pressing on through the second half of its 2021-22 season, presenting a full artistic program at Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus with major world premieres, such as the highly anticipated new film by Yorgos Lanthimos, produced in partnership with NEON, and the opera Inland by Angelos Triantafyllou, and co-productions, such as Verdi’s Otello directed by Robert Wilson, staged in collaboration with the Festspiel Baden-Baden.”
Opera performances in Stavros Niarchos Hall include the Greek premiere of Robert Wilson’s 2019 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello—a co-production between the GNO and the Festspiel Baden-Baden—featuring acclaimed Latvian tenor, Aleksandrs Antoņenko in the title role, and the world premiere of Inland by Greek composer Angelos Triantafyllou commissioned by the GNO that ruminates on the issue of loneliness amongst older adults. Revivals include the GNO’s 2000 production of Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier directed by Nikos Petropoulos and its 2012 production of Charles Gounod’s Faust directed by choreographer Renato Zanella. Summer performances at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus presented as part of the internationally renowned Athens Epidaurus Festival include the premiere of a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto by festival Artistic Director Katerina Evangelatos and a revival of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca directed by Hugo de Ana.
Internationally acclaimed soloists Marcelo Álvarez, Marcelo Puente, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Aleksandrs Antoņenko, Ivan Magrì, Irina Lungu, Kristīne Opolais, Ramón Vargas, and Giorgio Berrugi are joined throughout the season by the GNO’s foremost Greek soloists including Dimitri Platanias, Cellia Costea, Tassis Christoyannis, Dionysios Sourbis, Dimitris Paksoglou, Vassiliki Karayanni, Yannis Christopoulos, Yanni Yannissis, Tassos Apostolou, Petros Magoulas, Dimitris Tiliakos, Christina Poulitsi, and Mary-Ellen Nesi. (Full cast details below.) The operas will be conducted by Philippe Auguin (Andrea Chénier, Tosca), Pierre Dumoussaud (Faust), Lukas Karytinos (Rigoletto), Stathis Soulis (Otello), and Elias Voudouris (Inland).
Two significant and contrasting concert presentations will be presented in Stavros Niarchos Hall in March as part of the tribute to the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution. The Songs of Struggle (March 4 & 5) features a program of songs by famed Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis who died in September at age 96. Through his activism and music, Theodorakis became a national figurehead of the resistance movement against Greece’s military dictatorship that took place from 1967 to 1974. The song cycles he wrote during the Greek junta were smuggled out of the country to his associates abroad. In April 1970, following his release from prison resulting from pressure brought to bear by an international public outcry, Theodorakis began giving a series of concerts around the world, renewing his call for the fall of the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in Greece. A selection of these songs will be performed by Greek singers accompanied by the Mikis Theodorakis Popular Orchestra. The concert is part of a three-year celebration of the composer by the GNO. A week later, on March 13, the 1821 revolution will be memorialized from the Turkish perspective in the much-anticipated world premiere of a new oratorio, Jus soli, commissioned by the GNO from the Turkish creative team of composer Kamran Ince and librettist İzzeddin Çalışlar. The Jus soli oratorio—named for the rule that citizenship is determined by the place of one’s birth—seeks to talk about the Greek Revolution from the Turkish perspective, to trace its repercussions and impact. The oratorio will be performed by the orchestra and soloists of the GNO and conducted by Miltos Logiadis. Mr. Koumendakis said: “It is a work that attempts to distil the sea that divides and unites two peoples into a symbol of peace and understanding.”
Additionally, the bicentennial programming includes a concert performance on January 22 featuring the prize-winning works of the GNO’s Opera Composition Competition titled 1821, the Greek Revolution and Poetry Set to Music, organised in partnership with the Greek Composers’ Union. In an open call, artists were invited to choose poetic texts relating to the Greek Revolution and set them to music. The competition, open to Greek composers and those of Greek descent, without age limit, consisted of three categories: voice and piano, voice and chamber ensemble, and voice and orchestra. The chosen works will be performed by the GNO orchestra and soloists and conducted by Nicolas Vassiliou.
In May, internationally acclaimed Greek film director, Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite, The Lobster) returns to Athens to present the world premiere of his short film, Bleat, presented as part of the GNO’s The Artist on Composer program in partnership with NEON, the Organisation for Culture and Development, that connects pioneering contemporary artists, filmmakers, and producers with orchestral music to be performed live. Bleat, which features actors Emma Stone and Damien Bonnard, screens three times daily May 6-8 with live accompaniment. The score features Immortal Bach, a choral work derived from the first line of Bach’s funeral song “Komm, süßer Tod” (“Come, sweet death”) by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt and music by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa. Also in May, the Greek National Opera Ballet presents 3 Rooms, a contemporary dance triptych featuring the world premiere of The Pedal Tone for a Child by GNO Ballet Director Konstantinos Rigos alongside Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16.
The GNO returned to live performances in Stavros Niarchos Hall and on its Alternative Stage at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center in Athens in September 2021 with performances of Marina Abramović’s 7 Deaths of Maria Callas. The 2021-22 season currently includes performances of Mr. Koumendakis’ celebrated opera, The Murderess on December 3, 5, 28, and 30. Many of the productions featured in the continuing 2021-22 season were postponed owing to the pandemic. During this time the GNO launched its streaming platform, GNO TV, and continues to present works virtually. Prior to the pandemic, the GNO—which moved into the 1,400-seat, Renzo Piano-designed Stavros Niarchos Hall in 2017—was attracting full houses and, through its programming and artistic outreach, expanding its international footprint.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank: the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, and its Minister, Ms. Lina Mendoni, for their substantive and steadfast support; the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), and the Co-President of its Board of Directors, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, for their major support, and very considerable grants that have both helped grow the Greek National Opera’s renown around the world and allowed us to create our 2021 tribute program; and all our vital private sponsors and supporters,” said Mr. Koumendakis. “Warm thanks also go to the friends of Greek National Opera, who have stood by us over these last two trying years, and of course to our organization’s associates and staff, for all their dedication and talent, creativity and hard work.”