CULTURE

Homage to Strauss II with a new take on ‘Cinderella’

A different production of the classic “Cinderella” is currently in the feverish final stages of preparation by the Greek National Opera Ballet under director Renato Zanella before the curtain raiser at the Athens Concert Hall’s Alexandra Trianti Hall on Friday, April 24.

In this production, Cinderella has been renamed Grete. She lives in Vienna and has a passionate crush on Gustav, a fashion designer for the Four Seasons department store. Grete’s evil stepmother, Madame Leontine, is performed by a male dancer and, together with her two mean daughters, Fanchon and Yvette, they all come to a much happier ending than in the original version. There is also another character added to the plot: Johan Strauss II, who few people know also composed a score for a “Cinderella” ballet.

There are more surprises in the GNO’s new production, not least of which are the much-anticipated costumes designed by fashion pioneer Christian Lacroix.

The original production was created in 1999 for the Vienna State Opera Ballet, when Zanella was the company’s artistic director. The occasion for its staging in the Austrian capital was the centennial of Strauss’s death, as well as the 80th anniversary of when the ballet was last performed by the Vienna State Opera Ballet, for whom Strauss had originally written it.

At the time, Zanella had proposed his own new take on the piece, inspired by two factors. The first was that when it was first staged, the world was on the brink of the 21th century. The second was his passion for fashion and his desire to reference the original 19th-century costumes in the modern production. He secured the cooperation of Lacroix, who designed the costumes on the basis of the original drafts of the designs by Anton Brioschi, which were provided by the Austrian Theater Museum.

Starring in the GNO production are Aleksandar Neskov (24, 26, 29/4) and George Varvariotis (25, 28, 30/4) as Johan Strauss II, Stratos Papanoussis as Madame Leontine, Stavroula Kaburakis (24, 26, 29/4) and Maria Kousouni (25, 28, 30/4) as Grete, and Danilo Zeka (24, 26, 29/4) and Vangelis Bikos (25, 28, 30/4) as Gustav.

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Performances will take place on April 24-26 and 28-30 at the Athens Concert Hall (Vassilissis Sofias & Kokkali, tel 210.728.2000). Tickets are already on sale, at prices ranging from 15 to 60 euros, and can also be purchased online at www.megaron.gr.