Theodorakis sends out a message for peace and culture

Terrorism is an act of cowardice, not an act of bravery. It is not a revolution, but a counterrevolution, said Mikis Theodorakis, referring to last week’s terrorist attacks in the United States. The occasion was a recent press conference organized at the Athens Concert Hall to present the celebrated composer’s works which will be performed as part of the long series of events of the Cultural Olympiad. The terrorist attacks also elicited an unequivocal response from Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. The condemnation of terrorism is absolute. We have to safeguard democracy, not to see this as a conflict of cultures. We object to this confrontation of the civilization of cultures and the civilization of survival. Mikis Theodorakis is a living monument of culture, through whom we are going to send a message of culture and peace, said Venizelos. Theodorakis’s participation in the Cultural Olympiad includes the composer’s tetralogy of operas: Medea, Electra, Antigone, and the most recent, Lysistrata, a work which was originally commissioned by the Athens Concert Hall. Lysistrata is set to be one of highlights of the 2002 cultural season. It will premiere in Athens next April, after which it will travel to a number of places around the country, including Thessaloniki, Samos and Patras. The classics The other Theodorakis works to be presented within the context of the Cultural Olympiad are the ballet Zorba and the well-known Canto General. Beginning next year, Zorba will travel to five continents, while Canto General will be interpreted by 12 international choirs at a concert scheduled to take place at the Panathenaic Stadium in 2004. Just before the 2004 Olympics begin, the cultural events will be reaching their peak. For instance, Theodorakis’s operatic tetralogy will be staged over the period of a week before traveling to Thessaloniki for another series of performances at the city’s Theater of the Earth (Theatro Gis). Titos Patrikios, director of the ministry’s Cultural Olympiad Committee, spoke about Theodorakis’s strong and lasting influence on contemporary culture. There is a recurring phrase which we often employ and which is primarily geared toward social and political activities: ‘Continuity through change, or change through continuity.’ I believe that Mikis Theodorakis is precisely that one figure expressing that phrase’s meaning. He keeps on changing and he changes as he keeps on going. Lucas Karytinos, the National Opera’s artistic director, spoke about the upcoming production of Lysistrata as well as Canto General, the latter having been performed hundreds of times all over the world. This is the first time I’m asked to do nothing. I will be observing the work of others, said Theodorakis, as he thanked the minister for the invitation and the honor of participating in such events. He also agreed with the minister’s message that peace is humanity’s main objective. We thought that the clouds of war had left the world; that we had come to our senses, said the composer, adding that recent events had proved him wrong and that in his opinion the country ought to stay away from the conflict as much as possible, and instead put its efforts into producing culture. With the complete program of the Cultural Olympiad scheduled to be unveiled next week, Theodorakis’s works will likely be featured prominently, perhaps as a payback of sorts in response to the composer’s harsh comments concerning the financing of Vangelis Papathanassiou’s Mythodea spectacle, which took place in June. Discussions are already under way over the cost of the performances of Theodorakis works, which might surpass that of Papathanassiou’s concert. Though questions of a financial nature were not answered during the press conference, they will hopefully be answered sometime in the future.

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