A singer finds more in theater

It’s been 10 years since Aphrodite Manou came up with new tunes. Her songwriting career had begun in the 1980s, when beside her career as a singer, she put forward yet another interesting profile – that of a songwriter. Following «Pou Pas Karavaki;» (Where Are You Off to, Little Boat?), a collection of songs released in 1994, Manou began writing music and songs for theater and film – particularly for productions written by the highly successful playwright duo Michalis Reppas and Thanassis Papathanassiou. To begin with, the three of them collaborated in the play «Two-and-a-Half Bulldogs and a Murder,» followed by the film «Silicon Tears.» This season, Manou’s merry songs are part of the National Theater’s mega-production, «What Helen?» currently on at the Kotopouli Stage. Written by Reppas and Papathanassiou, the comedy-musical offers new meaning to the Trojan War, the gods and Helen of Troy, talking about love and beauty, but also about the illusions they are interwoven with. This is all very nice, but what about a new «personal» album? I’m working on an album right now and I hope it will be released soon. I owe that to myself. It’s not that I haven’t been writing songs all these years; it’s that I’m not happy with the way things are going in the music business… Albums are not selling… The music world is inundated with companies, television channels and radio stations subsidizing «entertaining» songs; in order for your song to reach the audience you have to use certain methods and for some people it is a very hard thing to do. At the same time the world around has changed… People don’t have the same kinds of priorities anymore; they are no more the kind of people who go home and pour themselves a drink, listening to an album. This is why I was hesitant about recording. Meanwhile, theater and cinema came along and I guess that covered me emotionally… Were you afraid of writing music for a musical for the first time? Not at all. The production needed the kind of songs sung outside the theater; not musical-style songs. On the contrary, I took entirely Greek musical paths, with a few exceptions. I thought it would be charming for Jesse Papoutsi, for instance, the play’s leading character, the anti-Helen of Troy, to sing a song in a Marilyn Monroe kind of way. Yet what defines the songs is their Greekness – the play’s issues needed that. And I must add here that Vassilis Ginou’s contribution in the musical arrangements was crucial. The play marks the third collaboration with Reppas and Papathanassiou – it looks like you have really hit it off together. Quite. I haven’t felt so proud and important in a collaboration in years. It’s a very noteworthy production, beginning with the play itself. It’s so entertaining. When Michalis read it to me the first time, I started writing a song right there and then! Would you like to go on working in theater? Very much so. And I’d like to work in other places, different kinds of theater. I enjoy the theater, it’s graceful… Its people are not solely interested in being successful, unlike in music. There is something more in theater…

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