CULTURE

Opera season starts with Mozart

The Greek National Opera has embarked on the new season under difficult circumstances but with the reassurance that the staging of its first production at the Acropol Theater instead of the usual Olympia Theater (currently undergoing renovations) is only temporary. The premiere of Mozart’s popular opera «Don Giovanni» took place yesterday with further performances scheduled to be held tomorrow, Sunday and November 1, 3 and 5. The new production, which is part of events celebrating the Year of Mozart, includes the collaboration of various top artists from Greece and abroad. It is directed by Eike Gramss, who has previously worked with the Greek opera ensemble on Verdi’s «Macbeth» and Ligeti’s «Le Grand Macabre,» while sets have been designed by Eberhard Matthies and costumes by Renate Schmitzer, both of whom have worked with numerous international ensembles. The orchestra is conducted by Hans Drewanz and the lead roles are performed by Dimitris Tiliakos (Don Giovanni), Dimitris Kavrakos (Il Commendatore), Loukia Spanaki (Donna Anna), Eugene Akimov (Don Ottavio), Mata Katsouli (Donna Elvira) and Peter Sidhom (Leporello). Mozart was commissioned to compose «Don Giovanni» by impresario Pasquale Bondini, who was impressed by the resounding success of «Le nozze di Figaro» in Prague, where the composer conducted the premiere performance in December 1786. Mozart returned to Vienna and arranged a meeting with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, during which the two collaborators decided to use the theme of Don Giovanni – a popular character in music and literature at the time – as the basis of their new work. Don Giovanni was an especially compelling character as he embraced the principles of the Enlightenment and challenged divine law. Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a subversive libertine who does exactly as he wishes without paying heed to the social consequences or to the price he will have to pay with his soul. The first presentation of Mozart’s «Don Giovanni» took place on October 29, 1787, at the Estates Theater in Prague. Its success was equal to that of «Le nozze di Figaro» and Bondini was eager to commission a third opera from Mozart, who, however, preferred to leave for Vienna, where he wanted to make a few adaptations to the score before he could present it in his hometown, as he knew the public to be more eclectic there. The Viennese public’s reception of the opera was lukewarm; sources even say that the emperor found it too difficult for the singers on a technical level and too indigestible for the Viennese public. Mozart, however, simply answered that the people of Vienna needed more time to mull it over. Acropol Theater, 9-11 Ippocratous, tel 210.364.3700. Reservations by telephone can be made Monday-Saturday from 9.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on tel 210.364.3700 and 210.360.8666.