CULTURE

Agnes Baltsa in Athens for charity concert

After a long absence, Agnes Baltsa has returned to her Athenian public. The greatest mezzo-soprano of our age, as Herbert von Karajan once said, is back for a single performance at the Athens Concert Hall tomorrow night in aid of MDA Hellas, part of the international Muscular Dystrophy Association that has 185 branches around the world. The idea for the concert came from Elizabeth Bayley-Burns, wife of the former US ambassador in Greece Nicholas Burns, who is the honorary president. The initiative to set up the Greek branch in January 2000 came from its president, Vana Lavida, and its active board of directors, including Vice President Katy G. David and General Secretary Vicky K. Bakouri. In the three years since it was founded, the branch has achieved its first major goal, the completion and operation of the first special unit for neuromuscular diseases, which was opened in the presence of President Costis Stephanopoulos and Health Minister Costis Stefanis in November of last year. MDA Hellas is now carrying out its second task, which is to set up a second unit. The first, at the Aghia Sophia Children’s Hospital, is a model multi-clinic for the diagnosis and support of its patients, who are children and young people. So Agnes Baltsa, accompanied by the Athens State Orchestra – now celebrating its 60th anniversary – and directed by Nikos Athinaios, will perform arias and excerpts from Bizet’s «Carmen,» Bellini’s «Norma,» Verdi’s «Don Carlos» Berlioz and others. Baltsa’s performance in Athens, as always, has been preceded by long lines at the box office and the performance is already sold out. The audience in the Friends of Music Hall, diplomats and prominent Athenians, will be applauding Baltsa and the work of MDA Hellas, which believes that «there is no illness that cannot be cured, just illnesses for which cures have not yet been found.»