Mercouri was described at the festival as the ”most important Greek woman of the twentieth century,” who was the first to conceive of and use the term ”European Capital of Culture.”
The festival was founded thirty years ago by the award-winning Greek-Italian visual artist and director Piero Bordin.
This year’s edition of the festival was launched on Saturday with ”Born Of Myths”, a poetic and musical journey back to the roots of European civilization, with renowned Austrian theater director Helga David and German composer Hans-Gunter Heumann.
David and Heumann read texts dating back 2,500 years and sung immortal Melina Mercouri songs, under the direction of Constantinos Diminakis, the conductor and artistic director of Vienna’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
This year’s festival program, which runs until August 23, includes three performances by the famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theater London, and an archaic production based on renowned Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz titled ”The Recognized Unknown.”
There is also a production by festival director Piero Bordin titled “Summit Meeting,” with contemporary references and parallels to Emperor Diocletian’s ”Conference of the Many Augustus”, also known as the Carnuntum Conference.
Diocletian called this conference of emperors on November 11, 308 AD, in order to reorganize the system of tetrarchy (the regional Augustus rulers) and to bring stability to the Empire.
Emperor Constantine emerged as the new strongman in the ensuing conflicts with the tetrarchs.
The Carnuntum conference paved the way for the transition from belief in the many ancient pagan gods to the rapid spread of Christianity. Piero Bordin, the festival’s founder, and whose mother was Greek, researched the history of the Conference extensively.
Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a pupil of Herod Atticus, once held his imperial seat at Carnuntum, which experienced the greatest flourishing of its culture in the second century AD, when its two Roman theaters were built.
The Festival of Ancient Greek Theater is held in this ancient European city each summer, while a parallel international symposium, dedicated to the history and the centuries-old significance of Greek theater, also takes place.
In an interview with the AMNA news agency, Bordin stated that some 96 international productions have been staged at Carnuntum over the last three decades. He emphasized that the theater is one of the greatest achievements of the ancient Greeks, and that it forms an essential element of Greek cultural heritage.
This priceless heritage is the basis of today’s European culture, and it needs to be appreciated accordingly.