« The National Opera has been working on its European standing for a very long time. When the building is ready, we must be ready to face European competition,» said National Opera artistic director Loukas Karytinos at a recent press conference. The new season will focus on the foundation of a Higher Ballet School, the continuation of the Opera’s Experimental Stage and on making the Opera’s archives available in digital form. The National Opera has been making progress over the past two years, despite the fact that its annual budget has not grown. Regarding the pending issue of the restoration of its building, discussions for the finalization of details are expected to start after the end of the Paralympic Games. The National Opera’s program for the new season includes 20 productions, six premieres, 346 performances, and the appearance of foreign artists as well as Greeks who are enjoying a successful career abroad. The program will start in mid-November with Mozart’s opera «Don Giovanni.» «The law for the foundation of the Higher Ballet School, which will be housed at the Opera’s Studio on Pireos Street, was published in the Government Gazette the other day,» said Karytinos. «Our Experimental Stage, a major factor for the promotion of our work, started out last year and was successful in almost all of its aspects. The hall will not be enlarged, but the number of shows will double,» he added and said that «a European theater must be accessible to all,» commenting on the digital form of the Opera’s archives. «Athenian audiences favor an opera with a slightly alternating repertoire, as has been indicated by the dramatic increase in spectators over the past few years. For this to materialize, ensembles must be able to respond to the need. Right now, there are about 10 operas that can be staged with just one rehearsal.» At the press conference, Karytinos presented the highlights of the season’s program, which include the promotion of Greek works with the new production of Manolis Kalomiris’s «Mother’s Ring» and the repetition of Pavlos Carrer’s «Marathon-Salamis.» «Don Giovanni,» the opening production, is part of the celebrations commemorating 205 years since Mozart’s birth, in 2006. Premieres include Alexander Glazunov’s ballet «The Ice Queen,» Handel’s baroque opera «Alcina,» and Benjamin Britten’s opera «Peter Grimes.» Mozart’s «Don Giovanni» will be followed by Verdi’s «Macbeth» on December 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12, Glazunov’s «Ice Queen» on December 19, 21, 25, 26 and January 5, 6, 8, 22 and 23, and Kalomiris’s «Mother’s Ring» on December 31 and January 2, 7 and 9. March-May shows include Puccini’s «La Boheme,» Handel’s «Alcina,» Verdi’s «Il Trovatore,» Tchaikovsky’s «Swan Lake,» Puccini’s «Madama Butterfly,» Johann Strauss’s «Die Fledermaus» and more.