To say it’s been a tough year for the performing arts is a bit like saying that Bernie Sanders’ mittens were kind of a hit. But an epidemic of high-class entertainment is barrelling our way. The Greek National Opera is about to bring music, dance and cutting-edge performance back into our lives in a big way, with a multi-dimensional culture buffet to mark the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
Under the roving tribute programme announced this week, prestigious Greek and foreign artists will team up with the GNO on new opera, ballet, concerts and musical theatre spectacles to be presented at the Stavros Niarchos Hall, the epic Odeon of Herodes Atticus - and some unexpected places, such as the courtyard of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. We can also look forward to reprisals of acclaimed shows and concerts.
In a bid to incite and invite discourse about the historic revolution that spawned the modern Greek state, the Alternative Stage of the GNO will salute the 2021 bicentennial milestone in parallel with a broad commemorative programme of contemporary and conceptual works from the fields of music, theatre, cinema, multimedia, dance and the visual arts, spanning the entire bicentennial year.
Finally, a number of high-profile productions, benched due to Covid-19, will meet their audience in 2021. These include the new work of famed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Artist on the Composer; Marina Abramović’s The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas; and GNO Ballet’s hot re-spin of Don Quixote with costumes by design star Mary Katrantzou.
Depending on which way the winds of fate blow over the next six months, we might even be able to enjoy some of the exciting line-up in person. The GNO has pledged to deliver its programme either in front of live audiences – should restrictive measures allow – or through video recorded performances broadcast on their new digital platform GNO TV.
Here’s a taste of some highlights to come:
- an ambitious new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (30 May to 8 June) and Puccini's thrilling Tosca (28-31 July) - both at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus;
- an opera gala by the “King of Tenors” Jonas Kaufmann – also at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (12 September);
- a recital of the arias of Puccini by global soprano powerhouse Sonya Yoncheva at the Stavros Niarchos Hall (4 November);
Also at Stavros Niarchos Hall: Classic repertoire operas including Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - and a new rendition of Mikis Theodorakis’ Zorba the Greek by the GNO Ballet.
You can take a deeper dive into the programme by heading over to the GNO’s new micro-site here.
Addressing the continued uncertainty facing Greece’s performing arts, GNO Artistic Director George Koumentakis said:
For all of us here at the National Opera, there has not been a single moment of retreat under the weight of the pandemic. Behind the closed halls and the cancelled performances, we continue working for the creation of our artistic work. From the beginning of the pandemic last March, we have moved in parallel on two main axes: the presentation of performances with a limited audience in open and closed spaces, when conditions allowed, and the creation and presentation of digital content.