The Hellenic Festival – which comprises the Athens Festival and the Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama – has gone ahead with programming events for 2007 along with those of this past summer’s. Many interesting artists and groups – some of them certain to appear – have been extended invitations, among them Ariane Mnouchkine’s Theatre du Soleil, London’s Old Vic theater, the Forsythe ballet company, Japan’s Kabuki theater and an Italian theater company presenting a play by Carlo Goldoni and Elvis Costello, while on the domestic scene invitations have been made to Lefteris Voyiatzis, Roula Pateraki, Dimitris Papaioannou and Nikos Hadzopoulos, among others. Many of the art companies that are expected to perform next year were also in this year’s festival. The success of their appearances in Athens this past summer, the charming new venues used by the festival (Pireos 260 and the Scholeio), the youthful atmosphere of the reborn festival seem to have made many foreign artists want to come back, says Hellenic Festival Director Giorgos Loukos. Among them are Mnouchkine, Liza Minnelli, Sylvie Guillem and Diana Krall, who discussed the possibility of appearing next year with her husband, Elvis Costello. «As soon as I reached my office in Lyon,» said Loukos, who also serves as artistic director of the Lyon Opera Ballet, «I found e-mails from well-known European artistic ensembles who want to come to Athens. This means that there is international interest in Greek festivals and this has been greatly helped by the articles, even front-page ones, that were published by major European newspapers about this year’s events, such as in Le Monde, the Financial Times and Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine, among others. It was also very helpful to have television crews by major cultural television stations come to Greece to cover events. Only the Greek TV stations did not do anything about the festival or the new venues, in contrast to the printed media, which helped us a lot.» However, he is careful not to give too much away without being absolutely certain about the 2007 program. «I want to announce certainties, not my ambitions, which are many, varied and, if achieved, impressive, seeing as they concern outstanding artists and ensembles. It is still too early to give a definite answer,» he added.