Big challenges for new GNO boss

Stefanos Lazaridis, the former artistic director at the Greek National Opera (GNO), is an Ethiopia-born Greek who came to the job lacking the experience of the notorious reality in Greece, and he paid dearly for his lack of local conditioning. Likewise, his successor, conductor Giovanni Pacor, whose appointment was announced by the Culture Ministry late last week, lacks the experience of dealing with local irregularities. Pacor, who was born in Trieste, Italy, to a Greek mother, studied abroad, where he went on to pursue his career. The hiring prompts questions as to why Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, president of the board at the National Opera, has fully backed the Italian artist over another candidate for the position, Miltos Logiadis, the permanent conductor at the Athens-based Orchestra of Colors. It was a well-known fact that Logiadis’s candidacy for the opening received futile support. Why, then, has the GNO chosen to recruit a foreign-based director when his predecessor was beaten by the demanding local reality. Even so, Lazaridis’s tenure has managed to leave a legacy. The National Opera’s ex-director may have hurriedly abandoned his post last June, but he has received most of the credit for the opera’s revival last season. Which is why a number of people at the National Opera believe that only an artist of international repute, who has been spared of the hardships associated with Athens’s artistic microcosm, can deal with the stagnancy and bureaucracy that largely affect the workings of the country’s one and only state opera. One cannot help but wonder why Pacor stands a greater chance of succeeding in these aspects of the job when Lazaridis failed. Individuals acquainted with Pacor describe him as a mild yet decisive character. He is believed to be willing to trade ideas, but ultimately is an independent decision maker who does what he himself believes is best. Pacor won the race against Logiadis because of his greater administrative experience. His track record includes tenures as music director at the State Theater in Klagenfurt, Austria, deputy artistic director at the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi in his hometown of Trieste, and, until recently, part of the artistic management at Verona’s internationally renowned Fondazione Arena opera. Once the GNO’s board was convinced that Pacor was the right man for the job, it offered Logiadis a post as deputy artistic director, which he refused. The thinking behind this initiative was to gradually groom Logiadis for the top post at some point in the future. Pacor, who speaks broken Greek, says he feels keen to improve his language skills within the first six months of his relocation here. He is expected to move to Athens shortly. Pacor’s attendance – accompanied by his wife Anna – at a recent National Opera performance of Giacomo Puccini’s «La Boheme» indicates a willingness to adapt to his new professional environment – and beyond – as soon as possible.