The headline in leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica was poignant: «Violetta-Myrto seduces the Opera,» read the title, while nearly all of the rave review was dedicated to «Myrto Papathanassiou from Larissa.» Greek soprano Papathanassiou had drawn enthusiasm from the Roman public as Violetta in Verdi’s «La Traviata» at the city’s Teatro dell’Opera. That was back in April of last year, when two leading names of Italian opera, director Franco Zeffirelli and conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti, had entrusted Papathanassiou with the role. She was back in Rome’s opera house this year, taking part in a new production of Puccini’s «Tosca.» Taking a break from her busy international schedule, Papathanassiou is currently in Greece working on a project that will not get her another Repubblica headline but nevertheless means a lot to her. On February 22, Papathanassiou is scheduled to go on stage in Larissa, her hometown. At the helm of an almost exclusively made-in-Larissa production of «La Traviata,» at the city’s municipal musical conservatory, the soprano will appear alongside the city’s municipal Young Symphony Orchestra, the Larissa conservatory’s Dimitris Mitropoulos school orchestra and opera choir as well as the Thessaly ballet, under the guidance of director Costas Lambroulis and maestro Christos Chtistakis. Considering that opera productions are a rarity in places like Thessaloniki (a city with over 1 million inhabitants), staging «La Traviata» in Larissa takes on a larger dimension, far beyond the upcoming five scheduled performances at the city’s municipal music school. The event is uniting the city’s artistic powers and brings an artistic genre identified with big city centers to the local community. As for Papathanassiou, the soprano is fully aware of the upcoming project’s importance. «It takes guts to do this,» she says, adding that her involvement in the production has a lot to do with her faith in the abilities of the local community. Furthermore, following the orchestra’s own preparations, whose level she finds «very good,» she is now looking forward to the rehearsals. Papathanassiou’s own journey from Larissa has been embellished with various stops at leading opera houses around the world: the Sydney Opera, the Monaco Opera, the Amsterdam Opera, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, the Opera Comique in Paris and the Konzerthaus in Vienna, to name but a few. On the Greek front, Papathanassiou has collaborated with the Greek National Opera only once so far, taking on the role of Sandrina in Mozart’s «La Finta Giardiniera» – something the soprano attributes to coincidence and chance. In any case, while Papathanassiou is already aware of her schedule for 2011, the Greek National Opera has yet to announce its program for next season.