Greece’s biggest cultural festival gets under way

The country’s flagship cultural event, the Greek Festival, starts on Saturday, June 1, and runs through the end of August, with dance, music, theater, opera and visual arts shows taking place at various venues around Athens and at the two ancient theaters of Epidaurus, which are reserved for ancient drama and romantic musical soirees.


Lucy Guerin “Untrained”

June 1 & 2 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 15 euros

Australian dancer and choreographer Lucy Guerin will launch the festival in the Pireos 260 complex, with two performances of “Untrained,” where she pits two experienced dancers against two amateurs in a comment on the development of movement. The dancers are Ross McCormack, Alisdair Macindoe, Jake Shackleton and Michael Dunbar, with music by Duplo Remote.

Dimitris Papaioannou “Primal Matter”

June 1-23 & June 27 – July 14 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 25 euros

Dimitris Papaioannou’s “Primal Matter” is a critically acclaimed study on the human body, its mannerisms and its reactions, featuring the 49-year-old Greek choreographer and dancer together with Michalis Theofanous. Papaioannou premiered the performance last summer in a sold-out run.

.pelma.lia haraki “The Shape of Necessity” & “Tune In”

June 7 & 8 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 15 euros

From Cyprus, Lia Haraki presents the .pelma.lia haraki collective in a double performance consisting of “The Shape of Necessity” and “Tune In.” In “The Shape of Necessity,” two dancers repeat the dominant motifs of the man-woman relationship as they evolve from the archetypal couple, while in the solo “Tune In,” Haraki, the choreographer of both shows, compares primitive rituals to modern clubbing.

Katerina Papageorgiou “Oh! Deep Sea – Corpus III”

June 10 & 11

Tickets 15 euros

“Oh! Deep Sea – Corpus III” is the third in a four-part series and is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Choreographed by charismatic local performer Katerina Papageorgiou (aka Kat Valastur), the show explores collective memory and how it manifests itself in movement.

Peeping Tom “A Louer”

June 12-14 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 25 euros

Boundary-pushing Belgian collective Peeping Tom comes to Greece with “A Louer” (For Rent), a show inspired by the moment when our minds start to wander during times of intense boredom. The concept belongs to Gabriela Carrizo and Franck Chartier, who also direct.

Lenio Kaklea “Arranged by Date”

June 12 & 13 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 15 euros

Paris-based Greek dancer and choreographer Lenio Kaklea presents her solo show “Arranged by Date.”

Cie MPTA “Ali” & “Nous sommes pareils”

June 15-17 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 25 euros

On a livelier note, Cie MPTA – Compagnie les mains les pieds et la tete aussi, a dance company from Tunisia launched by circus performer Mathurin Bolze, presents a twin performance of “Ali” and “Nous sommes pareils” (We Are the Same). Dancers and brothers Ali and Hedi Thabet, who last year enchanted local audiences with a performance inspired by the Sufi whirling ritual, this year draw on the history of rebetiko music. The second part of the show is inspired by a poem by the French surrealist Rene Char. Both performances are accompanied by an orchestra of Greek and Tunisian musicians playing rebetiko and traditional Tunisian melodies.

Eleana Alexandrou “In Wonder(?)Land”

June 18 & 19 (11 p.m.)

Tickets 15 euros

A political performance, young Cypriot performer Eleana Alexandrou’s “In Wonder(?)Land” explores the identity of the island nation that has been split since a Turkish invasion of the north in 1974 as well as the role of her generation in challenging the status quo and authority.

Cie Maguy Marin “Nocturnes”

June 22 & 23 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 25 euros

Maguy Marin and Denis Mariotte of the Cie Maguy Marin company present a thought-provoking performance titled “Nocturnes,” which addresses personal angst and collective memory.

Stavroula Siamou & Persa Stamatopoulou “Fight or Flight?”

June 26 & 27 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 15 euros

Local artists Stavroula Siamou and Persa Stamatopoulou, who began creating their own work in the 1990s, present their first collaboration, “Fight or Flight?” The piece explores the work they have done separately and somewhat in parallel over the years and addresses the question “What drives them?”

Antonio Ruz “Ojo”

July 14 & 15 (9 p.m.)

Tickets 20 euros

In “Ojo,” Spanish dancer and choreographer Antonio Ruz injects the contemporary dance vocabulary with elements of flamenco in what is his first appearance in Greece. The performance features a cast of six dancers.

All dance performances take place at the Pireos 260 complex in southern Athens.


On the theater front there is not much to interest foreign audiences in Greece as the majority of performances are in Greek, though the ancient drama at Epidaurus is an experience that should not be missed if only for the chance to view a performance at the ancient amphitheater, which boasts excellent acoustics. The following international productions will be staged in Athens.

Robert Wilson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Willem Dafoe “The Old Woman”

June 27

Onassis Cultural Center

Tickets TBA

Robert Wilson directs renowned dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and award-winning actor Willem Dafoe in “The Old Woman,” an adaptation of the work of the same name by Russian author Daniil Kharms, described by critics as “an obscure, brilliant and slyly political novella written in the 1930s.” It tells the story of a writer trying to pen a tale about a miracle worker. In English with Greek supertitles.

Ensemble Artistique “Rhinoceros”

June 30 & July 1 (9 p.m.)

Onassis Cultural Center

Tickets 15-25 euros

Francophones will have a treat with the Ensemble Artistique of the Theatre de la Ville, led by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, presenting Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 play “Rhinoceros.” Demarcy-Mota takes Ionesco’s themes of conformity, mass movements and culture, an applies them to the present day. The performance is in French with Greek supertitles.

Schaubuhne “An Enemy of the People”

July 3-5 (9 p.m.)

Pireos 260

Tickets 25 euros

A favorite in Greece, Germany’s Schaubuhne company and director Thomas Ostermeier will stage their ultramodern and pioneering version of Henrik Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People.” A darkly satirical tale of greed and corruption, “An Enemy of the People” is Ibsen’s most overtly political play, about a community that turns on a man speaking uncomfortable truths, with Ostermeier dragging it into the 21st century and addressing contemporary issues such as immigration and environmental disasters. In German with Greek supertitles.

Olivier Py “Miss Knife”

July 9 (10 p.m.) & July 10 (9 p.m.)

Pireos 260

Tickets 20 euros

The French actor and director explores gender issues and plays with his sexuality in “Miss Knife,” named after his singing drama-queen alter ego, who made her debut in 1996. In French with Greek supertitles.


Greek National Opera

Richard Wagner “The Flying Dutchman”

June 7, 9, 11, 13 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 25-100 euros

Two hundred years after the birth of Richard Wagner, the Greek National Opera presents the German composer’s most popular romantic opera “The Flying Dutchman,” starring Thomas J. Mayer as the ghostly sea captain who is doomed by the devil to sail for all eternity unless he finds redemption in the love of a faithful woman. The powerful music conveys the force of nature and the metaphysical elements that are eventually defeated by the power of love and compassion.

Athens State Orchestra – Vassilis Christopoulos

Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem

June 14

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 15-30 euros

The Athens State Orchestra celebrates the bicentennial of Italian Romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birth by staging his famous Requiem. Written to commemorate the deaths of Italian cultural greats, composer Gioachino Rossini and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, Verdi’s Requiem is a concert setting of the most dramatic of liturgical texts.

Thanos Mikroutsikos

June 18 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 20-40 euros

Respected composer Thanos Mikroutsikos will present a selection of popular folk songs interpreted by Manolis Mitsias, Giannis Kotsiras, Dimitris Basis and Rita Antonopoulou. With more than 40 albums and a long list of hits over his 25-year career, Mikroutsikos is today considered one of the most important artists in Greece. His 1979 “Stavros tou Notou” album, based on poetry by Nikos Kavvadias, is one of the biggest-selling records of all times in Greece.

Latinitas Nostra “A Voyage into the Levant”

June 23 (9 p.m.)

Pireos 260, Building D

Tickets 20 euros

Led by Greek harpsichordist Markellos Chryssicos, the baroque music ensemble Latinitas Nostra – meaning “Our (Greek) West” – will perform “A Voyage into the Levant.” The ensemble performs baroque works, including unpublished pieces, using period instruments.

Patti Smith

June 22 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 25-50 euros

Now 65, the legendary Patti Smith will be here for one concert at the Herod Atticus Theater at the foot of the city’s ancient citadel. More than 35 years after her debut album “Horses” catapulted her to international stardom, Smith, often dubbed “the godmother of punk,” remains one of the most influential figures in rock. “Banga,” her 11th studio album released last year was hailed by the BBC as “her best LP since ‘Horses.’”

Camerata Orchestra & Lucinda Childs

Haendel “Alessandro”

June 28 & 30 (9 p.m.)

Athens Concert Hall, Alexandra Trianti Hall

Tickets 15-40 euros

Composed by George Frideric Handel in 1726, the opera is based on Alexander the Great’s journey to India and his famous outburst against Macedonian general Cletus. Max Emanuel Cencic will play the main hero, under the direction of choreographer Lucinda Childs and the baton of Georges Petrou.

Diana Krall

Glad Rag Doll World Tour

July 1 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 35-90 euros

Canadian jazz-pop singer and pianist Diana Krall is coming to town in support of her new album, “Glad Rag Doll.” Hailed as “a major departure and a natural progression for the gifted musician,” the 13-track collection, produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett and engineered by Mike Piersante, covers mostly jazz songs dating back to the 1920s and 30s. Krall has sold more than 6 million albums in the United States and won two Grammy awards.

Haris Alexiou & Nouveau Sextet

July 3 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 20-40 euros

Popularly acclaimed Greek vocalist Haris Alexiou teams up with an ensemble of talented Greek musicians performing on a total of 20 instruments for a concert of songs that cross borders and generations.

Athens State Orchestra in Works by Kodaly, Bartok, Mussorgsky

July 5 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets 15-30 euros

Award-winning French conductor Pascal Roffe, Greece’s emblematic Athens State Orchestra and four acclaimed performers present a tribute to the Hungarian and Russian national schools of music with a selection of signature works by Zoltan Kodaly, Bela Bartok and Modest Mussorgsky. On piano are the renowned soloist and director of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, George-Emmanuel Lazaridis, and the award-winning experimentalist Stefanos Thomopoulos. Veteran Dimitris Desyllas and rising star Andreas Farmakis play percussion.

Dimitris Papadimitriou & Fotini Darra “Light of the World”

July 10 (9 p.m.)

Herod Atticus Theater

Tickets TBA

Composer and singer Fotini Darra performs on stage with her mentor, Dimitris Papadimitriou, in an evening of songs that include poems by Nikos Gatsos set to music as well as their personal favorites. The music will be performed by the Contemporary Music Orchestra of state broadcaster ERT.

Iro & Javier di Ciriaco “Querer”

July 12-13 (9.30 p.m.)

Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus

Tickets 20-25 euros

Iro, a popular Greek crossover singer, composer and pianist, joins Argentinean performer Javier di Ciriaco (best known for his rendition of the “Sexteto Milonguero”) in a program titled “Querer” and featuring well-known flamenco classics. The Nuevo Siete Ensemble, which will perform the music, is conducted by Haris Pegiazis, while Zoe Tiganouria will play accordion.


July 19-20 (9 p.m.)

Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus

Tickets 20-25 euros

Vangelis Papageorgiou, Michalis Kontaxakis, Natalia Kotsani, Dimitris Tsekouras and Kostas Konstantatos make up Encardia, an ensemble of local musicians that has been going from strength to strength in recent years and has acquired an avid following. Over two nights, the ensemble will perform a program that includes dance and special effects to accompany songs from rural parts of southern Italy, a genre at which Encardia excels in.


Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, tel 210.324.1807.

Pireos 260, 260 Pireos, tel 210.928.2900.

Athens Concert Hall, Vasilissis Sofias & 1 Kokkali, tel 210.7282.333.

Onassis Cultural Center, 107-109 Syngrou, tel 210.900.5800, tickets 2130.178.000.

Epidaurus Theater, Palaia Epidavros, Argolis, Peloponnese, tel 27530.22026 (Festival), 27530.22009, 27530.22666 (Archaeological site).

Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus, Palaia Epidavros, Argolis, Peloponnese.

Children, students, pensioners and people with special needs are entitled to discounts on the price of regular tickets. Most venues have wheelchair access, though people with mobility problems are advised to call ahead to organize their visit.

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