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Athens and Epidaurus Festival Returns with Over 80 Performances

Athens Epidaurus Festival
Credit: Athens Festival

The annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival will reopen to live audiences this year on June 1, 2021 with over 80 productions scheduled and a duration of four months, to October 10.

Focusing on Greek artists — 50 of the 80 are Greek productions — it will also include performances which were scheduled in 2020 but were suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic restrictions.

Athens festival and gender equality

In an online presentation, the Festival’s artistic director Katerina Evangelatos said that this year’s schedule did not focus on strict themes but would include productions on LGBTQ and gender identity.

In Athens, venues will also include the Pireos 260 building, which was shut down last year, and performances at the Festival will include theater performances, music, dance, and visual arts, while some productions will be held in other than the standard venues in Athens.

In addition, the “Cycle 1821” will commemorate the centennial of Greece’s War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Epidaurus Festival will premier ten productions

The Ancient Theater of Epidaurus will premier ten different productions over three days a week (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) from June to August. In addition, German theater director Thomas Ostermeier and the Schaubühne will present a version of “Oedipus Rex” by Maja Zade. Several Greek directors, either independently or in collaboration, will present ancient drama as well.

At the Small Theater of Ancient Epidaurus, four Greek authors will each present a commissioned modern version of an ancient tragedy for the “Contemporary Ancients” cycle, while other experimental works will also be offered.

The Athens Festival’s main venue, the Odeon of Herod Atticus (Irodio), will host distinguished international musicians Brian Eno with his brother Roger Eno, pianist Zubin Mehta with the Maggio Musicale Orchestra of Florence, violinist Pinchas Zuckerman and the Monteverdi Choir accompanied by the English Baroque Soloists, in a performance conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

On the Greek side, the Athens Festival will also include performances by the National Opera, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, and Lena Platonos with Nalyssa Green, among others.

History of Athens – Epidaurus Festival

The Athens and Epidaurus Festival was founded in 1955. Its purpose was to promote artistic and theatrical creation. The director Dinos Giannopoulos undertook the organization of the first Athens Festival, on commission by then-Minister of Culture.

Over the years, the Athens Festival has been able to host numerous notable groups and artists:

1955: The first year of the Festival, Dimitris Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic played Nikos Skalkottas’ 36 Greek dances

1959: The New York Philharmonic directed by Leonard Bernstein.

1961: Maria Callas performs Norma by Vincenzo Bellini and Médée by Luigi Cherubini.

1962: The Berlin Philharmonic directed by Herbert von Karajan.

1963: Ballet performance with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

1982: Aeschylus’ Oresteia, on Epidaurus, under the direction of Peter Hall.

1985: The Royal Opera (Covent Garden).

1989: Manos Hatzidakis with Nana Mouskouri.

1991: Luciano Pavarotti recital at Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

1993: José Carreras recital at Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.

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