CULTURE

A beautiful Galatea in Plaka

How familiar are you with chamber opera? It may sound like an oxymoron, but it is a formidable idea – though not widely known in this country. So here’s a chance to get acquainted with this musical genre, as the Athens Chamber Opera presents «Die schone Galathee» (The Beautiful Galatea) at the Greek National Opera’s Olympia Theater. The production opens tomorrow, with additional performances on Sunday and then January 20 and 21. The Greek National Opera established the Athens Chamber Opera in 1998. A rather flexible ensemble with a relatively small number of singers and musicians, the troupe travels extensively. The company’s repertoire includes small-scale comic operas and operettas, performed in Greek so that they can be better understood by local audiences, especially the young. At the same time, the Athens Chamber Opera offers young artists the chance to work in a strictly professional environment, a small space compared to larger organizations, though this arrangement leaves little room for experimentation. The Athens Chamber Opera’s track record includes 17 productions, as well as serving as a platform for a number of today’s established artists. In May last year, the company performed in London, interpreting Baroque works for soprano and organ. Baritone Costas Paschalis served as the company’s artistic director from 1994 to 2007 and was succeeded by bass Dimitris Kavrakos. Since its foundation, however, the company’s soul has been Maro Nikaki. Pygmalion and Galatea A comic opera by Franz von Suppe, »Die schone Galathee» revolves around the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. At the Olympia Theater, the action is given a contemporary twist, with the set design being a tourist shop in Plaka. «Though he is an artist, Pygmalion makes a living by selling souvenirs,» Elena Tzavara, the production’s director, told Kathimerini. «This is a way of bringing out the humor in the work as well as commenting on today’s world.» At the National Opera, the cast includes Kostantinos Klironomos, Zafiris Koutelieris, Dimitris Paksoglou and Marianna Mansola. National Opera, Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.2461/364.3725.