New year puts spring back in Greek National Opera’s step

New year puts spring back in Greek National Opera’s step

The Greek National Opera’s program for the January-July 2022 season – presented on December 8 – could easily have been titled “Operation Optimism.” It contains renowned directors such as Robert Wilson and Yorgos Lanthimos, repertory pieces restaged in new and interesting ways, and productions that had been postponed by the lockdowns.

“The Greek National Opera is getting back into full swing with slow yet steady steps and prescribes positivity and the joy of art as a way of putting the difficult days of confinement, loneliness and fear behind us,” noted the GNO’s artistic director, Giorgos Koumendakis.

Respected American avant-garde director Robert Wilson’s minimalist “Otello” at the Stavros Niarchos Hall on five dates in late February and early March is one of the highlights of next season’s program. It is a major co-production between the GNO and the Festspiel Baden-Baden, where it was first presented in April 2019, starring Lithuanian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko and conducted by Stathis Soulis.

Another headliner is Lanthimos – director of award-winning films “Dogtooth” (2009), “The Lobster” (2015), and “The Favourite” (2018) – who was invited to participate in an initiative by the GNO and the NEON Organization for Culture and Development titled “The Artist on the Composer.” The award-winning Greek filmmaker will be screening “Bleat” – a short shot on the island of Tinos starring Oscar-winning American actor Emma Stone and acclaimed French actor Damien Bonnard – with live music.

The GNO’s commissions are also very interesting, such as “Inland,” composed by Angelos Triantafyllou. The opera, which explores the subject of loneliness as experienced by older people, is based on a libretto by poet Giannis Asteris, directed by Nikos Karathanos and conducted by Elias Voudouris.

The oratorio “Jus Soli” is another new piece composed by Kamran Ince and conducted by Miltos Logiadis. The Turkish composer and his team seek to shed light on the 1821 Greek Revolution from the perspective of the modern-day ancestors of the Ottomans. The production had been originally planned for 2021 – the bicentennial of the start of the Greek War of Independence – but was put off because of the pandemic.

Other productions that will be presented in 2022 because they were postponed include the “Songs of Struggle” tribute to the late great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and the summer productions at the open-air Herod Atticus Theater of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” directed by Katerina Evangelatos and conducted by Lukas Karytinos, as well as Puccini’s “Tosca,” in a revival by Katerina Petsatodi and under the baton of Philippe Auguin.

Another revival will kick off the new year on January 20: Umberto Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier,” revived by Ion Kessoulis, directed by Nikos Petropoulos, conducted by Philippe Auguin and with Marcelo Puente and Marcelo Alvarez alternating in the title role, Dimitri Platanias and Elchin Azizov as Carlo Gerard, and Cellia Costea and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena di Coigny. The online edition of the opera had launched the GNO’s tribute to the 1821 bicentennial last January on GNO TV.

First shown at the Athens Concert Hall in 2012, the GNO’s production of Charles Gounod’s “Faust” is another revival being brought to the stage of the Stavros Niarchos Hall. Slated for April, it is directed by Renato Zanella, the GNO Ballet’s former director, and conducted by Pierre Dumoussaud.

The GNO Ballet, meanwhile, will appear in spring with the contemporary dance triptych “Three Rooms,” featuring “The Pedal Tone for a Child,” by Konstantinos Rigos with music by Giorgos Koumendakis, “Petite Mort” by Jiri Kylian to music by Mozart, and “Minus 16” by Ohad Naharin.

For more details about the 2022 program and to reserve tickets, visit the GNO’s Greek-English website, nationalopera.gr.