Franco Zeffirelli to replace ‘Medea’ with ‘Pagliacci’ at Herod Atticus in September

Though the Athens Festival’s program announces Cherubini’s «Medea,» Franco Zeffirelli is in fact staging Leoncavallo’s «Pagliacci.» Originally a co-production by the Hellenic Festival and the National Institute of Ancient Drama-Syracuse Festival, scheduled for September 22 and 23, the «Medea» production has now been postponed to 2007. The reason? The Sicilian Department of Antiquities did not grant permission for changes to the ancient Syracuse theater. An angry Zeffirelli visited the Odeon of Herod Atticus earlier this week, in order to study the outdoor theater. Eventually, he decided to replace «Medea» with «Pagliacci» – to be staged in record time. Though it will not be the first time for him to direct Leoncavallo’s popular opera, Zeffirelli is planning to use Greek and Italian references. What raises doubts about the final result, however, is the fact that the director himself said that it will be a miracle if the production will be ready in three months. «Normally you need two years,» he said. «It’s the kind of adventure which reminds me of Italian neo-realism, when I was assisting Fellini and we were shooting ‘La Strada.’ What we’re planning is a gorgeous improvisation. I hope to be invited again in the future to direct an opera, in order to do it properly.»