Although a final decision on its autonomy is still pending, the Thessaloniki Opera is forging ahead with its planned projects. Its production of Giuseppe Verdi’s «La Traviata» (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at the Aristoteleion Cinema) constitutes, according to artistic director and conductor Lisa Xanthopoulou, «an opera experiment set in a movie theater,» yet this has not dampened the company’s enthusiasm at the prospect of becoming an independent opera house. «We have great enthusiasm and drive, but the conditions have somewhat put the brakes on,» said conductor Loukas Karantinos. «Let us just remember that the opera premiered in Venice in 1853 and the conditions there were better than those in Thessaloniki in 2008.» He compares the Thessaloniki Opera to «an airplane that’s been forced to land on a small landing field.» The autonomy of the Thessaloniki Opera (a department of the State Theater of Northern Greece since 1997) is intrinsically linked to the issue of its premises, says Xanthopoulou, also adding that the Culture Ministry is currently examining a request for a change to current legislation. The new production (in collaboration with the Veria Municipal Cultural Center and the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra) features first-timer (in Greece) Simos Ioannidis on the conductor’s podium. «The 1950s aesthetic, which works so well for the set design and the costumes, alludes to the time of ‘La Traviata,’ but the new singers and chorus give it the freshness that I was wishing for,» said Spanish director and set designer Maria Elena Mexia. Soprano Fiorella Burato performs the main role.