CULTURE

Shrill notes as Mikis is dropped

Composer Mikis Theodorakis and the Cultural Olympiad seem to be on the brink of a rift in relations after Tuesday’s comments by the artist that he is «prepared to forbid» the presentation of his works at the Olympiad, «Cultural or other,» suggesting that he will not perform the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Games. Though the Culture Ministry has made no official response to his comments, sources from within say that the final program of the Olympiad does not include Theodorakis’s works as previously announced by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Theodorakis’s remarks followed an interview with composer Yiannis Markopoulos in the Eleftherotypia daily, in which he stated: «The State’s financial support, and the publicity this entails, are constantly granted to the same people.» Markopoulos named Theodorakis as one such recipient. Moreover, he said the State’s support for Theodorakis «is such that it excludes other artists such as myself, whom I consider a major composer, equal to Theodorakis.» On Tuesday, Eleftherotypia published a letter by Theodorakis in response to Markopoulos’s comments, in which he said he was a victim of a «well-orchestrated libel operation.» «Because I am well aware,» the composer’s letter read, «that many artists… who monopolize state funds spread rumors such as those Mr Markopoulos had the naivete to say publicly, I want to state, with disgust, that I am prepared to forbid the presentation of my music forthwith at any events held in the context of the Olympiad, Cultural or other.» Theodorakis’s comments, however, came after the publication of the Cultural Olympiad’s final program, which excluded his works anyway. This year, he was originally billed to tour Europe and America with the ballet «Zorba» and four operas. In 2004, «Zorba» was scheduled to tour Asia and «Canto General» to be performed in a grand production at the Panathenaic Stadium with a 4,000-strong international choir. The Ministry of Culture was led to scrap these plans due to their high cost (approximately 23 million euros), which would have left few funds for other artistic events, arguing Theodorakis had already received his tranche of some 6 million euros to tour with the opera «Lysistrata» and «Zorba.»