CULTURE

‘Cyrano & Roxanne’ in brief

The sets for the National Opera’s current production, «Cyrano and Roxanne,» are reminiscent of the 17th century but also make references to the 20th century. The story of Cyrano de Bergerac may be set in a specific time period, but it touches on issues that withstand time: «Here we have a myth about people’s pride and faith,» said Australia’s David Freeman, the show’s director, who founded the Opera Factory in London in 1981. «Cyrano and Roxanne» bears the signature of Greek composer Stavros Xarchakos and features extracts from Edmond Rostand’s play «Cyrano de Bergerac,» adapted by Jean-Claude Carriere and Pierre Jourdan. Hidden behind the words Freeman spoke to Kathimerini about the production and the story of de Bergerac, about his directorial choices and his collaboration with Xarchakos, whose music he said brings out precisely what is hidden behind the words. Freeman said there are three factors behind the opera’s – anticipated – success. «All the factors are very much related to the choices of Stavros Xarchakos and Jean-Claude Carriere. First of all, this is a chamber opera, where personal feelings are brought to the forefront, in contrast to the epic character of Rostand’s original play.» The duration is just as important: What is normally a four-hour plot has been condensed into just two hours, with the addition of flashbacks. «What is most important is the text because, in effect, it is a lie that allows the music to tell the truth.» This is Freeman’s first collaboration with Xarchakos. «Xarchakos understands theater very well, without being stubborn. During the rehearsals, I asked him to write some music here, some music there… «After all, this opera is more like a play, something that Xarchakos fully understood.» The status of opera today is something that has been of great concern to Freeman ever since the foundation of the Opera Factory. «Most opera institutions die out, usually because a repertoire linked to the past prevails. We need new ways to talk about the past, but we also need new works in general. Opera is like ancient tragedy: Both are in urgent need of a break to become refreshed.» «Cyrano and Roxanne» is a joint production with the Theatre Imperial de Compiegne. The final performances of the opera are tomorrow and Saturday at the Olympia Theater (59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.2461). Performances start at 8 p.m. and ticket prices range from 20 to 78 euros.