Full programme: The new season
With the first Wagner opera (directed by John Fulljames), the new production Les Éclairs by Philippe Hersant, Turandot with director Andrei Serban and an opera gala in honour of Maria Callas.
The Greek National Opera has something decisively ahead of many other major opera houses around the world: audiences are back, performances are sold out. On the one hand, the figures are a testament to the successful artistic work of its director Giorgos Koumendakis. The opera world, for example, praises “the clever mix of core repertoire and modern formats” and thus sees it on its way to the international top. The Tagesspiegel provides another clue as to the reason for the astonishing capacity utilisation: the Greek National Opera is a “cultural temple for everyone”. The house “shows how music theatres can make a sustainable contribution to urban development. That the Greek National Opera leaves no doubt that the coming season will also be a great success is shown by the overview of the 2023/2024 season alone:
- The celebrations of Maria Callas’ 100th birthday will reach their climax at the end of 2023: with an opera gala in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the archive exhibition Unboxing Callas and a documentary film about her Greek years
- First Wagner opera to be performed in the GNO’s new building at the SNFCC: Die Walküre directed by John Fulljames
- Major co-productions with the Opéra Comique (Les Éclairs by Philippe Hersant) and with the Royal Danish Opera (Die Walküre)
- New opera productions: Les Éclairs, a new work by Philippe Hersant about Nikola Tesla with a libretto by Jean Echenoz, a double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (directed by Nikos Karathanos), Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Brecht/Weill directed by Yannis Houvardas; Wagner’s Die Walküre directed by John Fulljames
- New ballet productions: Carmen (Johan Inger, choreography) and Coppélia (Edward Clug, choreography)
- For the 100th anniversary of his death: Puccini’s Turandot directed by Andrei Șerban at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, stage and costumes: Chloé Obolensky
- New commissioned work by Ioanna Pantazopoulou (in co-production with NEON)
- Revivals: La Traviata (director: Konstantinos Rigos), Lady Macbeth of Mzensk (director: Fanny Ardant), The Nutcracker (choreography: Konstantinos Rigos), La Bohème (in honour of the late director Graham Vick)
- Several exciting soloists: Nadine Sierra, Ekaterina Gubanova, Catherine Foster and Freddie De Tommaso, among others
- Conductors of the season: Paolo Carignani, Pier Giorgio Morandi, Philippe Auguin, Ondrej Olos, Fabrizio Ventura, Miltos Logiadis and Yorgos Ziavras, among others
- Holy Week 2024: second festival of sacred music in the Plaka district
- Summer 2024: Homage to the composer Manolis Kalomiris
For its 2023/24 season, the Greek National Opera is seeking to cast a critical yet compassionate eye over the female figures that appear in works of opera and dance, contemplating pressing issues of women’s empowerment, and envisioning the eradication of social exclusion, inequality, and gendered violence. From the emancipated Katerina Ismailova, the consumptive seamstress Mimì, the betrayed peasant girl Santuzza, the indomitable Carmen, and the fearless warrior Brünnhilde through to the free-spirited sex worker Jenny Hill, the mysterious Coppélia, the solitary Princess Turandot, and the courtesan Violetta Valéry, the heroines of the 2023/24 season grandly loom large within their stories, even though many of their fates have drawn criticism over the years. Retaining a sense of respect for the classical masterpieces of centuries past, and avoiding any simplistic intent to cancel the narrative achievements of their creators while also remaining actively engaged with and involved in the progressive achievements of 21st-century society, the GNO is seeking to spark discussion with regard to traditional portrayals of women in works of the repertoire, thus contributing to efforts fighting for equity and social fairness.
The GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis had this to note about the programme: “With the Greek National Opera’s 2023/24 season, our aim was to tackle new artistic challenges. Through our arts programming, we wish to pose questions about, and seek answers to issues that are timeless and universal. From the full and balanced programme forged in partnership with my associates, I would like –in the limited space available here– to shine a spotlight on the first work of Wagner to be presented inside the Stavros Niarchos Hall; our production of Turandot, presented at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in honour of Puccini’s centennial anniversary, with sets and costumes by the great, globally acclaimed Greek designer Chloé Obolensky, and staging by the leading director Andrei Șerban; the return of both Yannis Houvardas –to present a Brecht-Weill masterpiece– and Nikos Karathanos, to stage the Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci double bill; Les Éclairs, a new work by Philippe Hersant and Jean Echenoz; our Ioanna Pantazopoulou commission for The Artist on the Composer; our two new ballets, Carmen and Coppélia; and our revivals of magnificent productions directed by Fanny Ardant and Konstantinos Rigos. With our revival of La Bohème, we honour the memory of a truly great director who worked with the GNO: Graham Vick. During the first four months of our new season programme, major focus is to be pulled by our tribute to Maria Callas thanks to an opera gala at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a major exhibition at the National Library of Greece, and a documentary on the unsung Greek years of the incomparable soprano, while in the spring of 2024 we will be presenting our Second Sacred Music Festival at monuments, museums, and churches in the heart of Athens.
For 2023/24 –having pondered the significance and sway that art holds over our lives– we will be underlining the importance of eradicating inequality and gendered violence, and we call on all friends of the GNO to see classic works of the repertoire as an opportunity to reflect upon issues of women’s empowerment, grounded in the progressive achievements made by 21st-century society.”
You can find an overview of the entire programme here.
Tickets for the September–December 2023 productions go on sale 31 July 2023 at the GNO Box Office and via ticketservices.gr.
Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos