By Olga Sella
The Herod Atticus Theater and the pedestrianized zone of Thiseio are set to welcome the first guests of this year’s Athens Festival on Wednesday, June 1. The annual event will be inaugurated by two Greek National Opera productions, “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “I Pagliacci,” which will be performed as a double bill on four consecutive evenings at the Herod Atticus Theater, and two free-admission concerts set to take place on a specially constructed mobile stage in nearby Thiseio.
Meanwhile, a few pending issues have now been taken care of. Ariane Mnouchkine and the Theatre du Soleil will now be outfitting the Metropolitan Expo center for performances of “Les Naufrages du fol espoir” on June 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19). The Metropolitan Expo center is situated in Anthousa, near Athens International Airport.
And there’s more news. A recent addition to the festival’s program is the debut screening of Giorgos Skevas’s “Bare Hands,” which tells the story of Dimitris Mitropoulos. Focusing on the prominent Greek composer’s years in the United States, the documentary features actor Lefteris Voyatzis studying Mitropoulos’s correspondence in an attempt to analyze his personality. There’s good news for dance lovers too, given that Denis Mariotte will appear in an original music and dance performance at the Pireos 260 venue on June 28 and 29.
Browsing through the festival’s program, it is evident that the summer event is supporting rising talent, maintaining its ties to leading international artists, giving more space to symphonic music and young Greek dance troupes and bringing together theater and literature. The following are some of the festival’s highlights.
Director Stavros Tsakiris will be presenting a production based on Russian dancer-choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky’s diaries and correspondence on June 18. “Nijinsky: I Am a Puppet in the Hands of God” will take place at the Herod Atticus Theater, starring choreographer Konstantinos Rigos and actors Yiannis Tsortekis and Tatiana Papamoschou.
Critically acclaimed Greek actor and director Aris Retsos presents “The Throne of Atreus” on July 5, while the Cyprus Theater Organization will pay a visit to Athens with a dance theater performance titled “A Little More,” with performances taking place at the Pireos 260 venue on July 16-18.
Tributes will have a leading role this year. Among them, a tribute to Iannis Xenakis is scheduled for June 3, 6 and 8 at the Pireos 260 venue. The Orchestra of Colors will interpret Giorgos Kouroupos’s piano concerto “Monogram” as part of a tribute to Nobel laureate Odysseas Elytis at the Herod Atticus Theater on June 24. At the same venue, La Scala’s Philharmonic Orchestra and the Athens State Orchestra will present tributes to Gustav Mahler on June 26 and July 15 respectively.
Opera will be present throughout the festival. Besides the event’s opening, Mozart’s three-act “Idomeneo: King of Crete” will be performed in concert form at the Athens Concert Hall on July 4, while Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” will be interpreted by the Bolshoi Opera at the same venue on July 12 and 14. A few days earlier, Monteverdi’s “Coronation of Poppea” will go on stage at the Onassis Cultural Center on July 6.
For more information on events, venues and prices, visit www.greekfestival.gr.