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What is the Athens Festival? A great celebration that has lasted 56 summers, and that has hosted some of the leading lights of theatre, music and dance. From Mitropoulos and Callas to Rostropovich, Pavarotti, Leonidas Kavakos and Dimitris Sgouros. From Theodorakis and Hadjidakis to Savvopoulos, Protopsalti, Dalaras and Marinella. From Rondiris and Koun to Streller, Peter Hall, Noh theatre, Bunraku puppet theatre, and the Peking Opera. From Balanchine to Pina Bausch, and from Nureyev and Fonteyn to Martha Graham and Alicia Alonso.
Above all, however, it is a venture with an eventful past often clouded by events in Greece’s recent history. A venture that, over the last two years, has taken on a youthful vitality, and openness.
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ATHENS & EPIDAURUS FESTIVAL KICKS OFF WITH
GIUSEPPE VERDI : AIDA
The Greek National Opera opens this year’s Athens Festival with Giuseppe Verdi’s magnificent opera Aida, to be performed on 10, 11, 12 and 15 June 2016 at the Odeon of Herodes AtticusTheatre. This popular piece gets a fresh interpretation in the GNO’s capable hands, in a show first produced by the renownedTaormina Opera Festival, conducted by Myron Michailidis andElias Voudouris, and directed by Enrico Castiglione.
Aida marks a turning point in Italian music, balanced on the cusp between Romantic opera and French grand opera. Breathtaking arias, thrilling crowd scenes, long duets and stunning ballet all set Aida apart, a masterpiece that showcases Verdi’s operatic language reaching new heights. The grand, exotic strains of the triumphal march immediately transport us to the mysterious East, a setting which has contributed greatly to the opera’s continuing popularity. The action unfolds in the ancient Egypt of the pharaohs, veiled in the mists of time: a setting largely familiar to 20th century audiences thanks to a slew of glamorous Hollywood films. But the exotic locale is just one of the jewels inAida’s crown. Verdi is famous for his portrayals of love triangles, and in Aida we meet three of his most star-crossed lovers. Aida, the princess of Ethiopia held hostage in the Pharaoh’s court, has fallen in love with one of her captors: the Egyptian general Radamès. Secretly, he loves her in return, but there is a catch: the Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris, who holds Aida as her slave, has also fallen in love with Radamès, with deadly consequences. At the heart of the work is Aida, trapped between her feelings for the man she loves and her duty to her father and homeland.
Aida represents an ongoing dialogue between public life and private emotions; a dialogue that shapes the entire aesthetic of the work, which ranges from sotto voce confessions to exuberant declarations. The crowd scenes such as the triumphal march in Scene 2, Act 2 stand in strong contrast with the private emotions experienced by the opera’s three main characters. One of Verdi’s greatest accomplishments in this work was the balance he managed to strike: offering us a grandiose and lavish march scene that somehow conveys his deep sympathy with the losers, while concluding the opera in a simple, low-key, yet far more powerful manner, stirring up great feelings in the audience with the lightest of touches. The portrayal of Aida’s dignified stance and the opera’s strong sympathies for the underdog have an undeniable ring of truth to them, as the great composer himself passionately defended human rights throughout his life.
Myron Michailidis, Artistic Director of the GNO and Chief Conductor in this production says: “Aida was first presented by the GNO on 8 January 1958 inaugurating the new Olympia Theatre. This year it has been programmed at the end of the current artistic season, at the same time at a turning point in the history of the Greek National Opera, in view of its relocation to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. With Aida, this «necklace of precious musical gems» as it has been characterized, Giuseppe Verdi has not only breathed new life to the «tired» Italian opera, bringing various twists, but also revealed the full extent of his own capabilities, and established himself as the undisputed leader of opera in his country, a «maestro» to the rest of the world. One could refer to the «triumphal march» or the mythical, exotic historic framework –that of pharaonic Egypt- or to the delicate rendering of the psychology of the opera’s protagonists. Yet, no description can adequately render the spectrum of the work’s importance, except perhaps for the words of Thomas Mann in their simplicity in the Magic Mountain, when referring to the final duet of the lovers: They sang about paradise, but their songs where paradise themselves and were sung like paradise».
Conducted by the GNO’s Artistic Director, Myron Michailidis, and Elias Voudouris, the opera is a new production of the celebrated Taormina Opera Festival, and is directed by the experienced Italian director Enrico Castiglione who is known for rendering his productions a quality of film-making as well as a realistic point of view.
With great Greek and international soloists like Cellia Costea, Anda-Louise Bogza, Dario di Vietri, Francesco Anile, Elena Gabouri, Elena Cassian, Aris Argiris, Angelo Veccia, Tassos Apostolou, Dimitris Kassioumis et al.
With the Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet of the Greek National Opera
Conductors Myron Michailidis (10,11/6) – Elias Voudouris (12,15/6)
Director Enrico Castiglione
PREMIERE 10 JUNE 2016
10, 11, 12, 15 June 2016
New production originating from the Taormina Opera Festival
Within the framework of the Athens Festival
Starts at 21.00
|Aida||Cellia Costea (10, 12/6)|
|Anda-Louise Bogza (11, 15/6)|
|Radamès||Dario di Vietri (10, 12, 15/6)|
|Francesco Anile (11/6)|
|Amneris||Elena Gabouri (10, 12/6)|
|Elena Cassian (11, 15/6)|
|Amonasro||Aris Argiris (10, 12/6)|
|Angelo Veccia (11, 15/6)|
|The King||Dimitris Kassioumis|
|High Priestess||Lenia Safiropoulou (10, 12/6)|
|Voula Amiradaki (11, 15/6)|
|Priestesses/ Slaves||Anna Fragou, Cleopatra Anerousou, Olga Zourbina, Eleni Kladou, Komi Kloukina, Magda Koukou-Ferra, Margarita Kostoglou, Magda Lagoyanni, Eleftheria Stamou, Zoi Schinoplokaki, Vicky Tsiroyanni, Ariadni Filippaki
|Triumphal Scene||Anna Fragou, Olga Zourbina, Komi Kloukina, Magda Koukou-Ferra, Margarita Kostoglou, Magda Lagoyanni, Zoi Schinoplokaki, Ariadni Filippaki
Stelios Katopodis, Hector Bolano, Michael Doolan, Petros Kouroupakis, Nikos Moschis, Elton Dimroci, Thanassis Solomos, Dimitris Ferras
In Italian with english and greek surtitles
Upper Tier €25, C Zone €45, B Zone €55, A Zone €60. VIP Zones B & D €85,
VIP Zone C €100/ Children & students €15