Taking opera out of the fridge with low-budget shows

When I read that «Il Trovatore,» one of Guiseppe Verdi’s trademark operas, was going to be staged at Bios, I thought it would be an adaptation or a parody of the classic work. But I was wrong. «We are staging the complete opera, without any cuts,» composer Haralambos Gogios told Kathimerini. «We want the audience to remain with the feeling that they have watched ‘Il Trovatore’ at the end of the performance.» Gogios is one of the three members of the Beggars’ Operas company, which was founded in 2002 (the other two are set designer Constantinos Zamanis and producer Gabriella Triantafyllis). The company’s goal is to stage operas and other music performances with modern aesthetics on a low budget and at unusual venues. In 1998, Gogios staged his own opera, titled «Little Red Riding Hood and the (Good) Wolf,» which will soon be released with the Orchestra of Colors. «We believe that operas have to come out of the freezer. I enjoy watching operas in traditional venues, but I think that this is not the only way to approach what is still essentially folk music.» «Il Trovatore» is the company’s first attempt at a repertoire opera. «It is a risk because opera is very demanding technically, which is why all theaters around the world opt for very an inflexible mise-en-scene. Our challenge is to keep the work’s essence while at the same time bringing out its sensitivity, which is usually lost in order to highlight the heroic and epic elements.» Another novelty is that the performance will have a new orchestration. «I reduced the orchestra significantly, simply because a full orchestra with 60 instruments cannot fit in Bios. We only have five instruments, a piano, a guitar, an accordion, a trumpet and percussion. Our choir consists of 25 musicology students but our opera singers are professional, some of them work at the Greek National Opera and we feel very honored by their participation.» «For me it was essential to make the characters’ relationships and the entire plot comprehensible,» said the performance’s director Ektoras Lygizos. «We wanted to see the characters as normal people, to understand their dilemmas and comprehend why they turned them into songs. I avoided anything pompous. Another challenge is that the audience is seated very closely to the singers. That closeness brings out the opera’s emotional aspect.» «Il Trovatore» will run at Bios (84 Pireos, tel 210.342.5335) tomorrow, Sunday and May 14, 16, 18, 21, 23 and 25. The production features opera singers Yiannis Christopoulos, Marina Kolyva, Manolis Papadakis, Ioanna Forti and Michalis Katsoulis.