Double bill: Hortatsis and then Mascani

The National Opera rarely commissions a new ballet from a Greek composer and its productions hardly ever combine opera and ballet, which is why last Sunday’s opening is especially interesting. «Panoria,» the music to which was written by Alkis Baltas, is followed by an older National Opera production, Pietro Mascani’s «Cavaleria Rusticana,» this time starring Sonia Theodoridou who has made a prominent career abroad (on Sunday and February 24 her part will be interpreted by Varvara Tsambali). Not surprisingly, shows are already sold out for the additional performances of February 20, 22, 24 and 25. «The production combines our tradition, Georgios Hortatsis’s 15-syllable verse and the Cretan dialect with the ancient world and the commedia dell’arte of the Italian Renaissance,» said Alkis Baltas, quickly adding that the show was not a «folkloric spectacle.» Director Vassilis Myrianthopoulos confirmed Baltas’s view: «In Hortatsis’s work, Panoria wanders the forests hunting deer. In our production, she lives in the city, works for a multinational company and drives a car.» Accordingly, Antonis Halkias’s sets give a contemporary feel. Despite the modern setting used to enhance the romantic element and highlighted by the love between Panoria (Emilia Gaspari) and Gyparis (Kyriakos Kosmidis), there are direct references to the Renaissance. The ballet is conducted by Alkis Baltas and choreographed by Haris Mandafounis. The lighting is by Eleftheria Deko. As for the «Cavaleria Rusticana,» it has been renewed by director Vassilis Nikolaidis and is conducted by Baltas. The sets and costumes are by Nikos Petropoulos and the lights by Yiannis Theodoridis; the choir is conducted by Fani Palamidi. National Opera, Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.1516.