Apolline Politics and Poetics up for discussion

DELPHI – This year’s international meeting in Delphi on Apolline Politics and Poetics is still in full swing, but it is not too soon to declare it a resounding success. The secret, apart from good organization, lies in the choice both of topic and of parallel cultural events that illustrate and illuminate the legacy of Delphi’s tutelary deity. Participants from an unusually wide range of specializations have been sharing their particular insights into everything from Apollo’s relation to Delphi and other gods, to his legacy in Roman poetry and representation in vase painting, images of the god in the 20th century in opera and the comic poetics of Apollo in Aristophanes. Organized by the European Cultural Center of Delphi and the Greek Culture Ministry, the meeting includes a symposium, exhibitions and performances of music, theater and dance. The performances, all celebrating the god Apollo in some of his many guises, have been fruitful in sparking discussion. The avant-premier of the National Theater’s production of Euripides’ «Ion,» directed by and starring Lydia Koniordou, set the stage for a lively debate on just how much comedy can justifiably be introduced into the work, and whether the 19th century setting added anything to the audience’s understanding. Roula Pateraki, performing Christa Wolf’s «Cassandra» in what resembled a straitjacket, also provoked sharply differing views. An exhibition of art related to the theme of the meeting by artists from around the world includes notable works by de Chirico, Dali, Engonopoulos and Chryssa. The performances of song, music and dance have memorably invoked the spirit of Apollo. On Tuesday, Christa Pfeller brought Apollonian myths to life in song, accompanied by Rudolf Jansen on piano and hydraulis – preceded by Vassilis Karasmanis’s account of how the Delphi Center reconstructed this ancient musical instrument. Wednesday brought Mozart’s «Apollo and Hyacinth or The Metamorphosis of Hyacinth,» performed in the impeccable tradition of the Bolshoi by Makvala Karashvili, Leonid Bomstein, Marina Andreeva and Natasha Arutunova. This was followed by Kirov dancers Igor Zelensky, Svetlana Zakharova, Oksana Kucheruk and Irina Perren incarnating Apollo and the Muses in Igor Stravinsky’s «Apollon Musagete,» choreographed by George Balanchine. As fresh as if it had just been created, and with the felicitous addition of moonlight and a summer chorus of cicadas, this performance enraptured an audience of conferees and locals with what seemed like a visitation of the divine. Yesterday’s papers included an amusing investigation of the sources, chemical or otherwise, of the oracle’s frenzy, and the meeting continues till today, with more papers, film and theater. An impressive event, with a mega-blast of brain food provided by high-octane academics from around the world in a highly productive exchange of views, the symposium is a credit to organizers and participants.

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