CULTURE

People who made their mark on Greece’s cultural scene last year

Stefanos Lazaridis should have earned a nomination for man of the year by his actions only. The acclaimed stage designer took on a tired, inflexible, provincial Greek National Opera (GNO) and from the first season managed to inject it with the ingredients expected of a modern, European opera company: a modern repertoire, openness to emerging trends, interesting artistic collaborations and a sense of imagination. But, Lazaridis did not make it onto any awards lists for giving a new lease on life to the GNO, because he was ousted last June, just as another successful season was drawing to a close. Like the plot of some novel or movie, he was shunned by the very people who had asked his assistance to break the deadlock at the GNO – the board of directors, headed by Odysseas Kyriakopoulos. Lazaridis vs Kyriakopoulos The official reason given for Lazaridis’s ousting was his refusal to share equal footing with an economic or administrative director, even though he had asked for one to be appointed when he took on the job of artistic director. The unofficial reason can probably be traced to the more nebulous folds of the human psyche. One way or another, the result is that the GNO is in danger of losing the momentum it acquired with Lazaridis. Kyriakopoulos is adamantly backing his decision and for now, the board is looking for a new, worthy, replacement for the famed stage designer. Silent force Everyone agrees that Maria Kehagioglou is a great actress. Solid yet able to transform herself, she has given us some wonderful performances both on stage and screen. Among these are her appearances as Katerina Ismailova at the Neos Cosmos Theater in Martha Frintzila’s adaptation of «Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk» this year, the neurotic heroine of Yiannis Economidis’s disturbing screen drama «Soul Kicking» and the hermetic coal-maker in Dora Masklavanou’s «Coming as a Friend.» Kehagioglou displays a well-rehearsed sense of cool, which she combines with intensity and force, while also taking pains in deciding what roles to take on. She has also put herself to the test on some of the country’s most important stages – the state theaters, Amore, Embros, Kykladon, Amphi-Theater, Keffalinias, Neos Cosmos – and on the big screen, with appearances in seven feature-length films and 10 shorts. Actress of the future Stefania Goulioti was one of the most promising actresses in Greek theater in 2007. After an impressive, powerful performance in Peter Stein’s National Theater production of «Electra,» the theater world was talking about the rise of this new great talent. Mature for her age (just 27), decisive, determined and, above all, hardworking, she studied at the National Theater School, as well as taking classes in music and gymnastics (advanced classes in acrobatics) and seminars on vocal technique and the use of the body. She has shown that she has the mettle it takes to make it. Her stupendous performance at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, so full of energy, was the result of many years of hard work and not any single collaboration. Goulioti was involved in the theater early on. At her Palaio Faliron school, her headmistress (Kyveli Myrat) cast her in several roles. That is where she first «embraced» the character of Electra, at age 16, and fell in love with the theater. She then was accepted by Athens University’s Department of Geology but later gave it up so she could test her skill alongside the great Peter Stein and at Milan’s Piccolo Theater.