The Greek National Opera was established in 1939. From early on, its program included operetta and dance, in addition to the opera. Inaugurating a new period in its long history, the GNO is now settled in its new home at the SNFCC complex. Its new facilities enable it to further develop its wide range of activities as an organization for education and the arts, including opera, ballet, experimental projects, shows for children, educational programs, as well as training the next generation of dancers and developing public benefit projects. With its wonderful acoustics, fine ambiance, and advanced specifications, the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Alternative Stage – a versatile space for experimentation and research – along with state-of-the-art auxiliary spaces, enable the GNO to play an ever more important role promoting the arts in Greece.
The year 2017 was a landmark for the Greek National Opera, which relocated from the small scale Olympia Theatre in the center of Athens to its new, state-of-the-art premises at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. It did not cease its full artistic operation during the transitional period: people living in the Athens metro area had the opportunity to watch Verdi’s Macbeth, and the dance triptych Landscapes by the GNO Ballet, at the Stavros Niarchos Hall (SNH). The Alternative Stage proved to be the highlight of the year: the first GNO musical commission, Erotokritos by Dimitris Maramis, premiered with great success. Furthermore, the Sacred Music Days and the Music Theater Days also debuted at the Alternative Stage during the transitional period and will recur annually with enriched content.
The GNO opened officially at the SNFCC in October 2017 with the production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at the Stavros Niarchos Hall. An ambitious production with international impact, it was the first of several leads the GNO is proud of: it was the first time for the GNO to present this play, and it was the first time for internationally acclaimed Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa to sing at the GNO. Moreover, a successful GNO initiative, the three-year Manos Hadjidakis Cycle, was also launched in October with a series of performances presenting well-known as well as hitherto unpublished works of the iconic Greek composer with a view to redefine his oeuvre and introduce it to the next generations. By the end of 2017, the GNO had also staged - with full houses - two operas, Rigoletto and La bohème, as well as the Sleeping Beauty ballet. The Alternative Stage debuted its official season with the new play Twilight of the Debts, a radical adaptation of Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods. By the end of 2017, the new children’s opera commissioned by the GNO, Prince Ivan and the Firebird, the Piano Festival, the new play Yοkihi, and - for the first time in Greece - the famous operetta The Mikado were also staged with success. The official opening of the first GNO artistic season at the SNFCC (October 2017-July 2018) was characterized by memorable artistic accomplishments, full houses, a more inclusive opera repertory, international collaborations, invitations to famous international artists, as well as by giving voice to a new generation of Greek singers and conductors. Both the Press and the audience’s positive response paved the way toward greater artistic achievements. The GNO aspires to revisit the art of making opera by redefining it as a form of art that can be sharp, influential, contemporary, and also timeless. This goal was successfully met in 2017.
The 2018/19 season’s programme designed by artistic director Giorgos Koumendakis for the Greek National Opera Main Stage, turns the expansion of the repertory into reality, redefines the concept of extroversion with global scale and prestigious co-operations, opens the way for the connection of lyric art with visual arts, focuses on the sharp reading of classical works and aims at the return to the core of the art of opera, through a contemporary perspective and reflection.
Therefore, in the 2018/19 programme, which is based upon seven thematic cycles, we will find great works from the 18th, 19th and 20th century, from the most important opera schools (French, German, Italian, Russian, Slavic), we will be acquainted with masterpieces that will be presented for the first time in Greece, like Janáček’s Jenůfa, which officially launches the season, works that haven’t been staged at the GNO for many decades, like Massenet’s Manon (since 1965) and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (since 1996), but also Verdi’s La Traviata for the first time at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. At the same time, the collaboration with the Royal Opera House brings to us Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and the return of Donizetti’s highly successful Lucia di Lammermoor, alongside new productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Bellini’s Norma.
The GNO Ballet will present three new exceptionally ambitious productions: Swan Lake choreographed by the new Ballet Director Konstantinos Rigos, great Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s Herrumbre (Rust) and Stravinsky’s triptych From Russia with love, choreographed by Daphnis Kokkinos, outstanding German choreographer Marco Goecke and Konstantinos Rigos. For more information visit the official website of the Greek National Opera at http://www.nationalopera.gr/en/
The 2018/2019 season’s programming of the GNO Alternative Stage includes some of the most genuine and restless artistic voices of Greece’s contemporary cultural landscape. What stands out in the programme is the children’s opera of Lena Platonos, a composer that has left a deep mark on our musical imagination over the last decades. Her children’s opera The emperor’s nightingale, staged for the first time ever, is a work of rare beauty and sensitivity, whose theme is one of the most important issues of contemporary art: the relation between the natural and the digital, the real and the virtual. Moreover, a series of new works, presented for the first time on stage, form the backbone of this year’s programming, delivering on the commitment to make the Alternative Stage a creative outlet for restless Greek composers.
One of the initial goals of the Alternative Stage was also the free from aesthetic and ideological prejudices presentation of a wide range of musical theatre repertory. Therefore, at the centre of this year’s programming, stands the presentation of an emblematic work of music modernism, Udo Zimmermann’s opera Die Weiße Rose (1986), under the musical direction of GNO’s conductor Nikos Vasiliou and directed by Themelis Glynatsis, as well as the masterly musical Once (2011), directed by Akyllas Karazisis and starring the one and only Marina Satti.