The Verdi cycle in Athens will close with Attila, as the National Opera’s artistic director, Lukas Karytinos, announced at a recent press conference. Rounding off a tribute to the Italian composer which so far has featured productions of Il Lombardi, Rigoletto, Nabucco and La Traviata and the ballet based on his life, The Steps of a Revolutionary, Giuseppe Verdi’s Attila premieres on Friday at the Olympia Theater in central Athens, with a star-studded cast and crew. Though one of Verdi’s earlier works, Attila contains all the elements that have become the composer’s trademarks: beautiful, emotive melodies, a large dose of romance, explosions of passion and an in-depth knowledge of how to use the soloists’ voices and the orchestra to their best advantage. The National Opera’s production – which was performed in Italy in 1999 – is directed by Matta Testi of Italy. In the press conference, he explained how he went about directing Attila, an opera which, he said, was of great political and historical importance in Italy. First I related the story the way it really is, then I surrounded it with the environment in which it was set and then, in the end, I studied the characters and the relationships between them, he said. The director’s vision of the production has been given shape by set designer Pier Paolo Bisleri, costume designer Ruggero Vitrani, music director Vyron Fidetzis, choir director Fani Palamidi, choreographer Merco Merlin and lighting designer Paolo Mazzon. Verdi’s characters are brought to life by Dimitra Theodosiou alternating with Jenny Drivala, Vangelis Hadzisimos, Franco Vassallo alternating with Lazaros Tselepidis, and Dimitris Kavrakos alternating with Christoforos Staboglis. Before the premiere, music scholar Nikos A. Dontas will deliver a lecture on the significance of Verdi’s work Attila at the Olympia Theater foyer at 1 p.m. How does the troupe survive in Sweden? Do you ever think of coming back?