The National Opera seems to be gaining momentum, judging from yesterday’s press conference in which the company’s artistic director, Lucas Karytinos, presented the program for the 2001-2002 season. Strengthened by the opening of the Acropol Theater – a second theater dedicated for the National’s use – the National Opera has prepared a formidable 21 productions of which three have never been performed before in Greece. These are: Guiseppe Verdi’s Attila, Georg Friedrich Handel’s Xerxes, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tzar’s Bride. In addition, in its first international premiere, the National Opera plans to stage Mikis Theodorakis’s Lysistrata as part of the Cultural Olympiad which will tour Europe next May, and the USA and Canada next October. The rest of the program is basically composed of repeat performances with an emphasis on repertory pieces at the Olympia Theater and Greek operetta at the Acropol. The season will start at the Olympia Theater on November 18 with Verdi’s La Traviata, directed by Ilias Voudouris and Constantina Gourzi, followed by a Verdi Gala – featuring selected arias from his works. Next on the program is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker for Christmas and the new year, along with Attila in the same period. After the holidays, the agenda includes: Gioachino Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Nino Rotta’s An Italian Straw Hat and Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. In the spring and leading up to summer will be: Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chenier, Puccini’s La Boheme, Aleksander Glasunov’s Raymonda and Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. The Acropol Theater will feature the operettas The Flower of the Levant by Grigoris Xenopoulos and Rossini’s Siege of Corinth. What we are trying to do, explained Karytinos (with respect to the large number of repeated performances), is to create a large stock of productions which the public seem to enjoy in repeated performances. This will help us enrich our repertoire and allow us to stage a few new, top-quality performances each season. But, this does not mean that we will be giving our audiences the same thing. We will try to make every performance even better each time, keeping them at top quality. Karytinos also noted that Athenians are becoming increasingly attracted to the opera, arguing that this is partly to do with the National Opera’s expansion both in size and content. The National Opera also has a surprise in store for young opera lovers this year; it has opened a new stage specially for children’s performances at the Acropol Theater. Five days a week, this new stage will be initiating children to the beauty of opera with performances from their repertoire as well as adaptations of classic texts. Greece has little, if any, operatic education, said Karytinos. It is, therefore, our task to create and educate our future audience. We hope that this will help our young friends not only learn to appreciate opera as an art, but also to become interested in getting involved in opera on a professional basis. The season on the children’s stage will start with Mozart’s Magic Flute, adapted by Carmen Ruggeri and, according to Karytinos, the shows for school groups are already sold out for the next five weeks.