CULTURE

One (more) classical program

The upcoming series of events at the Herod Atticus Theater as part of the Athens Festival between June and September promise a rich and varied program with over 50 shows, both Greek and foreign. The festival’s program was announced on January 24 by the festival’s president, Periklis Koukos. Despite older promises by the festival’s organizers pledging a more modern approach with the addition of contemporary events, the overall style remains largely classical. Events at another venue in the capital, the Lycabettus Theater, which are also included on the Athens Festival’s agenda, were not disclosed. Koukos said that these, in the fields of dance, music, drama and others, would be more contemporary. Also kept under wraps was the summer program for the ancient Epidaurus Theater, whose program, combined with the aforementioned events of the Athens Festival, make up the Hellenic Festival. In previous years, the details of both were announced simultaneously. But this coming summer’s list of events at the Epidaurus Theater will be announced at a later date by the culture minister, Evangelos Venizelos. This year, the ancient theater will also be used to stage events of the «Cultural Olympiad,» the Culture Ministry’s four-year series of various performances leading to the Athens 2004 Olympics. This season’s program has been budgeted at about 1,900,000 euros (650 million drachmas), slightly up from last year’s 620 million drachmas (about 1,800,000 euros). These figures, however, only cover performance fees for artists and do not include additional costs for transportation and accommodation. June This summer’s proceedings at the Herod Atticus will begin with Maurice Bejart’s Lausanne Ballet between June 6 and 8, with music by Manos Hadjidakis. On September 12 and 13, Shakespeare’s «Macbeth» will be presented by the Meno Fortas Lithuanian Theater under the direction of Eimuntas Nekrosius. On September 15 and 16, there will be performances by the National Traditional Orchestra of China. July On July 3, the Janacek Opera Brno presents «The Macropoulos Case,» while two days later, on July 5, the company will perform the «The Cunning Little Vixen.» On July 7 and 8, the Veria Municipal Theater, in collaboration with Giorgos Armenis’s New Greek Theater, presents Aristophanes’ «Archanians.» On July 9, the Orchestra of Colors pays tribute to Yiannis Christou, while on the following day, July 10, fiery mezzo-soprano Julia Migenes will perform «Passiones Latines.» On July 12, Georgian maestro Jansug Kakhidze will conduct the Athens State Orchestra. On July 14 and 15, it’s the Strasbourg Philharmonic’s turn, directed by Ian Latham Koenig. The soloist is Yiannis Vakarellis; also appearing is the Athens Festival Choir under the direction of Antonis Kondogeorgiou. On July 18 and 19, Tchaikovsky’s popular «Swan Lake» will be presented by the National Opera Ballet, based on a choreography by Igor Zelenski. The National Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Ilias Voudouris. July 20 belongs to Mikis Theodorakis, and works such as «Sun and Time» and «Haris,» featuring the Mikis Theorodrakis Popular Orchestra together with Vassilis Papaconstantinou, Yiannis Kotsiras and Yiannis Bezos. On July 22, Vincenzo Cornaros’s «Erotocritus» will be presented by the Municipal Theater of Crete, with stage direction by Vassilis Nikolaidis and featuring Giorgos Partsalakis, Nikos Psarras and Anna Mascha. An evening of opera is set for July 24, with Argentinean tenor Jose Cura. The Athens State Orchestra will be conducted by Voldemar Nelson. On July 26, the Kalamata Municipal Theater presents Euripides’ «Orestes,» with stage direction by Stavros Tsakiris, starring Yiannis Vouros and Tania Tripi. Ballet will close the month with the Bolshoi Company presenting Aram Khachaturian’s «Spartacus» (on July 29 and 31) and Adolph Adam’s «Giselle» (July 30). August The month of August’s events commence with a tribute to Nikos Gatsos with composer Stavros Xarchakos conducting the KOEM orchestra (August 2 and 3). On August 5 and 6, Aristophanes’ «Lysistrata» will be performed by the Municipal Theater of Patras, with stage direction by Themis Moumoulidis and featuring Yiannis Bezos in the title role, who will be joined by Dimitris Piatas and Renia Louizidou. After the regular two-week break, the festival continues with the European Youth Orchestra, conducted by the celebrated Vladimir Ashkhenazy. On July 26, the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, while on the following night they will interpret Berlioz’s «Midsummer Night’s Dream.» August events come to an end with Handel’s «Messiah,» interpreted by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir. September There is a rich crop of events in September, beginning with three performances of Leonard Bernstein’s celebrated «West Side Story,» on September 1, 2 and 3, featuring the Leeds Opera, under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies with choreographies by Melissa King. On September 5, the playful world of Lilipoupoli returns to the stage with songs performed by the Volos Symphony Orchestra, which will be directed by Simeon Cogan. Interpreting the songs is the Aghia Triada Children’s Choir. One of the festival’s most eagerly awaited events is scheduled to take place on September 6, when star couple soprano Angela Georghiu and tenor Roberto Alagna will take the stage. They will be accompanied by the ERT Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Anton Guantano. The event is a coproduction by the Hellenic Festival and the American Community Schools (ACS). Ballet returns on September 8 and 9, with the Vienna State Opera Ballet company dancing to the music of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mahler to choreographies by George Balanchine as well as the company’s director Renato Zanella. On September 10, the Stuttgart European Music Festival orchestra will perform Beethoven’s «Missa Solemnis.» The mood will be quite different on September 12 and 13, as Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers interpret old and new favorites. On September, the Greek Youth Parliament is organizing an evening with favorite Greek tunes based on the poetry of Giorgos Seferis, Yiannis Ritsos and Odysseas Elytis. Marking the 25th anniversary of the death of the legendary Maria Callas, the Athenaeum Music Center is holding its annual tribute to the diva on September 16. This year, conductor Louli Psychouli will conduct the Balkan Orchestra. Participating in the event is the Prague Philharmonic Choir. On September 19 and 20, the Hamburg Ballet performs Handel’s «Messiah,» based on a choreography by the company’s artistic director John Neumeier. Dance theater troupe Momix will perform «Orbit» on September 22 and 23, while the Camerata Orchestra, conducted by Alexandros Myrat, will appear in a spectacular event orchestrated by Pandelis Desyllas, technical director of the Vienna Opera. Events will come to an end with an evening of Japanese entertainment, where theater and music mix, both inside and outside the ancient theater.