Gianni Schicchi, photo by Stefanos Kyriakopoulos
ATHENS, GREECE (February 3, 2023) –– The Greek National Opera (GNO) presents a tragicomic diptych featuring two operas, both of which premiered in 1918: Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle in a new production by Greek director Themelis Glynatsis paired with a revival of British director John Fulljames’ production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, one of the most popular productions in the GNO repertoire. Conducted by one of Greece’s most renowned conductors, Vassilis Christopoulos, the double bill runs for four performances only at the Stavros Niarchos Hall in Athens, March 9, 12, 19, and 24, 2023.
This presentation of Bluebeard’s Castle and Gianni Schicchi is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.
Bluebeard’s Castle is Bartók’s sole opera, based on the folktale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault. Containing only two characters –– the titular Bluebeard and his new wife Judith –– the opera follows Judith as she opens the seven doors of Bluebeard’s castle, discovering untold riches and wonders, as well as horrors.
This is director Themelis Glynatsis’ first opera for the GNO main stage; though he previously directed productions for GNO’s Alternative Stage including Capodistrias: Monodrama of a secret life in 2021, and the play White Rose during the 2018-19 season. His production of Bluebeard’s Castle does away with the frequent horror tropes often seen in stagings of the opera, instead privileging the psychological aspects of the story. He explains:
“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.”
Bluebeard’s Castle stars bass Tassos Apostolou as Bluebeard and mezzo-soprano Violetta Lousta as Judith.
Puccini’s dark comedy, Gianni Schicchi, depicts the family of a deceased man as they sort through his substantial estate. Former Artistic Director at the Royal Danish Opera, Fulljames’ acclaimed production returns to the GNO stage for the first time since its premiere in 2007. Gianni Schicchi is Fulljames second production performed at GNO this season; his production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni was performed in October 2022.
Gianni Schicchi stars baritone Dionysios Sourbis in the title role. The cast also includes soprano Julia Souglakou as Zita, soprano Vivi Sykioti as Lauretta, tenor Yannis Christopoulos as Rinuccio, tenor Yannis Kalyvas as Gherardo, mezzo-soprano Diamanti Kritsotaki as Nella, baritone Vangelis Maniatis as Betto di Signa, bass Christophoros Stamboglis as Simone, baritone George Mattheakakis as Marco, soprano Syranous Tsalikian as La Ciesca, baritone Kostis Rassidakis as Maestro Spinelloccio, baritone Harris Andrianos as Ser Amantio di Nicolao, bass Nikolas Douros as Pinellino, and bass-baritone Georgios Papadimitriou as Guccio.
Conducting the double bill is Vassilis Christopoulos, who led the company’s first ever Elektra in a production that opened the Renzo-Piano designed Stavros Niarchos Hall in 2017. He has since returned to GNO to lead operas including Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 2019, a widely acclaimed production of Berg’s Wozzeck in 2020, and Giorgos Koumendakis’ The Murderess in 2021. Christopoulos made his U.S. debut leading Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the San Francisco Opera in September 2022. He was recently named Chief Conductor of Opera Graz, beginning 2023.
GNO’s 2022-23 season continues with a revival of former GNO Artistic Director Spyros Evangelatos’ production of Massenet’s Werther – the last production he directed before his death in 2017 – opening on March 23 (the day before the final performance of Bluebeard’s Castle and Gianni Schicchi on March 24) and runs through April 4, starring Anita Rachvelishvili in her role debut as Charlotte.
Bluebeard’s Castle & Gianni Schicchi
March 9, 12, 19 & 24
Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC
Conductor: Vassilis Christopoulos
Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle
Director: Themelis Glynatsis
Sets, costumes: Leslie Travers
Movement: Katerina Gevetzi
Lighting: Stella Kaltsou
Projection design: Marios Gampierakis, Chrysoula Korovesi
Sound design: Tasos Tsigkas
Bluebeard: Tassos Apostolou
Judith: Violetta Lousta
Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
Director: John Fulljames
Revival director: Angela-Kleopatra Saroglou
Sets, costumes: Richard Hudson
Lighting Revival: Robert Butler
Gianni Schicchi: Dionysios Sourbis
Lauretta: Vivi Sykioti
Zita: Julia Souglakou
Rinuccio: Yannis Christopoulos
Gherardo: Yannis Kalyvas
Nella: Diamanti Kritsotaki
Gherardino: Alkinoos Kypriotis / Iasonas Frangopoulos
Betto di Signa: Vangelis Maniatis
Simone: Christophoros Stamboglis
Marco: George Mattheakakis
La Ciesca: Syranous Tsalikian
Maestro Spinelloccio: Kostis Rassidakis
Ser Amantio di Nicolao: Harris Andrianos
Pinellino: Nikolas Douros
Guccio: Georgios Papadimitriou
With the Orchestra of the Greek National Opera
Tickets are available now from the GNO Box Office and online here.
Ticket prices: €15, €20, €25, €30, €35, €40, €45, €60
Students, children: €12
Limited visibility seats: €10
Lead Donor of the GNO
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)
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 is 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, totaling €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. In 2020 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; Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk directed by Fanny Ardant; 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; Verdi’s Otello, a co-production with Festspiel Baden-Baden directed by Robert Wilson; Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a co-production with the Göteborg Opera and the Royal Danish Opera directed by John Fulljames; and Verdi’s Rigoletto, directed by the artistic director of the Athens Festival Katerina Evangelatos.
For more information, visit nationalopera.gr/en.