The National Opera seems to be going from strength to strength, launching the new season with a variety of performances. «Last season was very successful, despite the fact that nothing has yet been done for the new opera building,» said Loukas Karytinos, the National Opera’s artistic director, at a recent press conference. «In three years, our ticket sales have tripled while over the past five years, we have been making record revenues,» he added. According to Karytinos, the National Opera is eager, «beyond [its] desire to see a full theater and be loved by the Athenian audience, to make its mark in Europe, with the support of the foreign press and collaborations with bodies abroad. «Good programming is the key. We want to give the audience many high-quality productions, though the number of people the Acropol Theater can hold is limited. What has changed is the number of productions: In the past three years, we have presented 16 new operas and ballets.» The highlights for the 2002-2003 season include productions of Paul Carrere’s «Marathon-Salamis» and Vivaldi’s «Orlando Furioso,» which is being presented for the first time in Greece and represents the National Opera’s recent involvement with baroque opera. The ballet of «Zorba» will be touring England, Germany, America and Canada, while Mozart’s opera «Idomeneo» – a copoduction with the Cultural Olympiad – will be staged in Knossos and at the Herod Atticus Theater. Other dates worth noting are the 15 performances between November 10 and December 11 of Bizet’s «Carmen,» directed by Vassilis Nikolaidis, and the three nights (November 29 and December 4 and 8) of Giordano’s «Fedora,» directed by Plamen Kartalov. Tchaikovsky’s «Sleeping Beauty,» directed by Igor Zelensky will be on stage for a few nights in December, April and May. From December 15 to 22, the National Opera will present Puccini’s «La Boheme,» directed by Lina Wertmuller, while during the holidays, kids and adults can enjoy a Christmas classic, «The Nutcracker.» The new production of Vivaldi’s «Orlando Furioso» will be presented in five shows from January 10-19, while at the end of that month, the audience can look forward to the ballet «Romeo and Juliet,» choreographed by Rudi van Dantzig, and Mozart’s «Abduction from the Seraglio.» Also on the program, are «Marathon-Salamis,» William Walton’s «Bear,» Gian Carlo Menotti’s «Medium» (five shows from February 23 to March 2), Verdi’s «Macbeth» (a coproduction with the Municipal Theater of Berne), Rossini’s «Cinderella» (coproduced with the Luglio Musicale Trapanese Theater) and Verdi’s «La Traviata» in May. The New Stage of the Acropol Theater will be hosting a season run of Nikos Hadziapostolou’s «The Girl Next Door,» which will be starting on November 15, while the Children’s Stage will be featuring Karl Maria von Weber’s «Marksman» as of November 1. To round off the season, next summer, the National Opera will appear at the Herod Atticus Theater with the Camille Saint-Saens’ opera «Samson et Dalila» and the ballet «Don Quixote» by Leon Minkus.