Shortly before his first meeting with new Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, chairman of the Greek National Opera’s board of directors, stated that the organization wasn’t looking for «just anyone» to fill the post of artistic director. Kyriakopoulos tried to raise expectations but also to assuage concerns over the dismissal of former artistic director Stefanos Lazaridis last June, at the request of the board. Nothing has been done to replace him so far, with the elections and the changes in the Ministry of Culture further contributing to the delay. Although the program announced at a recent press conference by the National Opera for the new season was complete, there can be no guarantees for 2008-09 if the institution remains without an artistic director. Kyriakopoulos was very straightforward regarding the treatment that Lazaridis received from the state. «Mr Lazaridis agreed to move to Greece following an agreement with the Ministry of Culture. He was deceived and did not receive even half of what he had been promised. We don’t want these mistakes to be repeated. That is why we have to be careful.» He was also clear when stating the criteria for the selection of a new artistic director. «We want somebody who will have some experience in administration, on top of his artistic quality. Lazaridis was very good artistically, but did not fare too well at administration,» he said. He was also quick to dismiss rumors of maestro Loukas Karytinos, also a former artistic director, returning to his old position. The only thing that can be said so far is that there will be no change in the legislation which clearly states the responsibilities of the institution’s different directors. The future artistic director will still have the final word, on the condition that he has some management experience and is a team worker. As expected, the program for the new season brings no surprises and bears Lazaridis’s signature all over. Verdi’s opera «Nabucco,» staged last season too, will make the start on October 14 and will run through the end of the month (16, 18, 20, 23, 25 and 27). As this is a Puccini Year, celebrating the 150-year anniversary of his birth, there will be four of his operas: «Gianni Schicchi» will be staged on November 25, 27, 28, 20 and December 1 and 2 as part of a three-bill production further featuring Stravinsky’s «Mavra» and Kurt Weill’s «Seven Deadly Sins;» «La Boheme» will go on stage throughout December and early January; «Tosca» will be performed next March and early April (March 21, 23, 26, 28, 30 and April 1, 3, 5) and «Turandot» will round off the season at the Herod Atticus Theater on June 1, 3, 5 and 7. The operetta will also make a comeback with the tribute to Theofrastos Sakellarides. The program further features Manolis Kalomiris’s «The Masterbuilder» (January 25, 27, 29, 31), Rossini’s «Le Comte Ory» in February and on March 1 as well as Verdi’s «Simon Boccanegra,» on May 4, 7, 9 and 11. Lazaridis’s modernist approach is evident in «La Boheme» and «The Masterbuilder» and the balance is now more in favor of Greek opera singers over foreign ones. It should also be noted that ballet returns to the Olympia Theater, in more classic approaches. For information: www.greeknationalopera.gr.