Successful experiment continues

Ever since Giorgos Loukos took over, the Hellenic Festival has undergone an unprecedented change. By reaching out to young audiences and introducing new venues, from 2006 the institution has acquired a new identity. This summer promises to continue the newly established tradition. At yesterday’s press conference Loukos announced the, once more, rich program, which has two novelties, a stronger emphasis on visual arts and on collaboration between foreign directors and Greek actors. Highlights include a tribute to the recently deceased dance master Maurice Bejart with Sylvie Guillem, choreographies by Trisha Brown and Pina Bausch and a dance performance with Mikhail Baryshnikov, but also Dimitris Papaioannou’s milestone performance «Medea.» Music fans will be able to enjoy Nana Mouskouri’s last concert. «The Hellenic Festival may be the most popular and recognizable institution of the country. The experiment has worked,» said Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, who was present at the press conference. Pointing out the audience’s warm response and the sold-out performances, he went on to say that the festival can now claim its own position on the international cultural map. «I am very pleased,» said Loukos, who explained the contrast with the beginning, in 2006, when everything was so uncertain. «We made mistakes but we learnt from them.» He proudly announced that various productions that opened at the Hellenic Festival, such as Michail Marmarinos’s «I’m Dying Like a Country» and Lefteris Vogiatzis’s «Antigone,» will travel to international festivals and said that acclaimed institutions abroad, including London’s Old Vic Theater, have expressed their interest in working with the festival. The program at the trademark venue, the Herod Atticus Theater, will start with the Greek National Opera production of Puccini’s opera «Turandot» on June 1, 3, 5 and 7. The Paul Taylor Dance Company will take the stage on June 11, followed by the tribute to great 20th-century choreographer Bejart with top dancer Sylvie Guillem (16, 17). In what Loukos described as a performance «not to be missed» and «a mixture of gospel and Greek tragedy,» Lee Breuer will present his take on the story of Greek mythical hero Oedipus with «The Gospel at Colonus» on June 21. June will end with a concert by composer Olivier Messiaen (23), a tribute to Greek variete and revues by Stamatis Kraounakis (27, 28) and a concert with classical pianist and jazzman Fazil Say (30). July will kick off with soprano Renee Fleming in her first performance in Greece (3) and will continue with a Greek music extravaganza by Nikos Portokaloglou and various guests (6, 7). Distinguished maestro Riccardo Muti will lead the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra on July 8, followed by an evening of Ravel melodies with the Orchestre de Paris under Christophe Eschenbach (11). Stavros Xarchakos will pay tribute to Manos Hadjidakis (13), the Bolshoi Theater orchestra and choir will play compositions by Prokofiev (14) and the Cyprus Theater Organization will stage Aristophanes’ comedy «Plutus» (16). On July 18, the Lyceum of Greek Women will present a show based on percussion and the Karolos Koun Theatro Technis will perform Aristophanes’ «Birds,» which was just staged in China (20, 21). Eternally popular vocalist Nana Mouskouri will round off her career on July 23. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will present his work with the Shaolin Monks (26) and composer Lena Platonos will follow (28). July will end with a concert by the Greek-Turkish Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy on the 29 and then singer-songwriter Paolo Conte (31). The program at the hugely popular Pireos 260 venue will kick off with a renewed version of Dimitris Papaioannou’s 1993 «Medea» (June 1 to 5). Choreographer Josef Nadj and artist Miquel Barcelo will experiment in «Paso Doble» (June 1 to 3) and the Theseum Ensemble will once more stage Dimitris Dimitriadis’s «I’m Dying Like a Country,» directed by Michail Marmarinos (6, 7). The Compagnie Maguy Marin will perform June 8-10 and the Wooster Group will return for an original take on «Hamlet» (12-15). Mikhail Lermontov’s play «Masquerade» by Stathis Livathinos will go on stage June 24 to 26 and Yiannis Houvardas will present Oden von Horvath’s play «Tales from the Vienna Woods» (27-30). The acclaimed Schaubuehne company will return with Tennessee Williams’s «Cat on a Hot Tin Roof» (June 29-July 1) and Shakespeare’s «Hamlet» (July 8-10,) directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov will dance July 3 to 8, then flamenco revolutionary Israel Galvan will perform July 10-12. The Trisha Brown Dance Company, that has only performed at the Kalamata International Dance Festival so far where Greece is concerned, will give two performances (12, 13) and French choreographer Alain Buffard will follow, July 15 and 16. Hanoch Levin’s play «Krum» by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski, will be staged July 16 to 18 and be followed by an adaptation of Josephine Hart’s novel «Damage» by Haralambos Gogios (21, 22). July will end with Mabou Mines and Lee Breuer’s award-winning performance of Ibsen’s «Dollhouse» (21-24), Beckett’s «Waiting for Godot» directed by Cezaris Grauzinis (29-31) and Dimitris Kourtakis’s performance «Kafeneion» (30-31). Highlights at the Athens Concert Hall include a 16th-century Chinese opera (June 12-14), Benjamin Britten’s «A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream» by the Lyon National Opera in a Greek first (July 7, 9) and Mussorgsky’s opera «Boris Godunov» by the Bolshoi Opera (July 15, 16). There will also be concerts by string quartets mid- to end-June and the Greek Ensemble of Contemporary Music (July 24), a concert by pianist Fazil Say and percussionist Burhan Ocal (June 28, although the venue might change) and religious compositions by Les Talents Lyriques on June 27. At the Scholeion venue, actress Aspassia Papathanassiou will do a reading on June 9 and drog-a-tek will present an audiovisual performance on June 12. Actresses Reni Pittaki and Loula Anagnostaki will join forces June 17 to 21 and Jean-Christophe Sais’s take on Euripides’ tragedy «Andromache» will be staged on June 22 and 23. The program will continue with Vassilis Alexakis’s play «Call Me by My Name» (June 29, 30), a tribute to mythological hero Oedipus by the Theater of Silence (July 1 to 5), and duets and solos from the contemporary Greek dance scene (July 7, 10). Renate Jett will present Heiner Mueller’s «Quartet» starring Betty Arvaniti and Christos Stergioglou July 15 to 20. Ethnic music, by the Taksim Trio, three Greek ensembles, Buika, Iranian singer Shahram Nazeri and Marta Sebestyen will follow (22-26). Ibsen’s «Ghosts» by Ektoras Lygizos will be staged July 27 to 31. July will end with Euripides’ tragedy «Bacchae,» by Thomas Moschopoulos (30, 31). Anastassia Lyra’s dance installation will inaugurate the Mikroskopiko Theater, June 21 to 23. The Technopolis Arts Complex will host once more the avant-garde Synch Festival June 13 to 15 and a modern art exhibition from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo collection will go on display at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex. The Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama will open with Beckett’s «Happy Days» (July 4, 5) directed by Deborah Warner and starring Fiona Shaw, which was only staged for one night last summer because of the fires in the Peloponnese. The program then features Aristophanes’ «Frogs» by Dimitris Lignadis (July 11, 12), Gluck’s «Orfeo ed Euridice» by Pina Bausch and the Paris Opera (July 19, 20), Euripides’ «Phoenician Women» by the Spyros Evangelatos Amphi-Theater (July 25, 26), Euripides’ «Orestes» by the National Theater of Northern Greece (August 1, 2), a unified Greek National Theater production of Sophocles’ «Oedipus Rex» and «Oedipus at Colonus» by Roula Pateraki (August 8, 9), Euripides’ «Medea» by Anatoly Vasiliev (15, 16) and Aeschylus’ «Agamemnon» by Angela Brouskou (22, 23). The cozy Epidaurus Little Theater will host Matthias Langhoff’s take on Heiner Mueller’s play «Philoctetes» (June 27, 28), Mediterranean melodies by Savina Yannatou (July 11, 12), Britten’s «Curlew River» by the Lyon National Opera (July 10, 11), a concert with Periklis Koukos (July 18, 19) and a concert with George Emmanuel Lazaridis and Maria Farantouri (July 25, 26.)

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