A controversial opera at the Athens Concert Hall

Alban Berg’s controversial opera «Lulu» will open the opera series at the Athens Concert Hall next Wednesday. A Greek premiere, «Lulu» will also inaugurate the Alexandra Trianti Hall as an opera venue. Directed by Eike Gramms, the production has been rated unsuitable for anyone under 15, as it contains scenes of nudity. Award-winning German soprano Marlis Petersen will play the title character. The opera also features baritone Wolfgang Schoene, tenor Fabrice Dalis and Greek mezzo-soprano Daphne Evangelatou, among others, as well as the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. The sets and costumes are by Gottfried Pilz. This is the second opera by Berg to be staged at the Athens Concert Hall, the first being «Wozzeck» in 1995. Berg wrote «Lulu» in 1934, inspired by two works by German playwright Frank Wedekind. Lulu, a femme fatale, is a woman who attracts and becomes involved with many different men, shattering their lives, only to end up as a prostitute in London where she eventually gets killed by Jack the Ripper. At Tuesday’s press conference, artistic director of the concert hall Nikos Tsouchlos, who is also the conductor of the performance, pointed out the particularities of the opera. «It is rare in an opera for the plot to weigh as heavily as the music,» he said. «I couldn’t tell you what ‘Lulu’ is about. If I tried to explain it, I would be like those men who claim they know the female soul. The first time I directed ‘Lulu’ I didn’t really know what I was doing. Now I feel I am doing something,» said director Eike Gramms, who is directing «Lulu» for the third time (the first was 12 years ago). «The work is difficult and complex because of the material; there are many scenes with only two or three people,» he said, adding that because there is so much dialogue, he had to direct the prose through the songs. Gramms, who has directed numerous theater productions as well as operas, is the director of Berne’s Stadttheater since 1991. He has come to Greece as an opera director twice before, with Verdi’s «Macbeth» and Gyorgy Ligeti’s «Le Grand Macabre.» Marlis Petersen stressed the importance of both the singing and acting in her part of «Lulu.» «I had to go through a long period of preparation to understand the different aspects of Lulu’s character. Only then did things become easier,» she said. Petersen, who has played the part many times, said the performance differed each time, depending on the director. «What fascinates me about Lulu is that she is both a victim and a persecutor of men. The public and the critics often describe her as a ‘man-killer,’ but I think that is one-sided, there is more to her than that. It is very interesting how every new relationship she forms with yet another man is different, but she remains the same. In every new game, she discovers herself.» Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.928.2900. Performances on October 19, 21, 23 and 25.