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Athens Epidaurus Festival Opens with Madama Butterfly Masterpiece

Athens Epidaurus Festival
The masterpiece Madama Butterfly opened the Athens Epidaurus Festival. Credit: Facebook/, Andreas Simopoulos/ Athens Epidaurus Festival

The Athens Epidaurus Festival opened on Thursday at the magnificent Odeon of Herodes Atticus below the Acropolis with a sold-out premiere of the masterpiece Madama Butterfly, produced by the Greek National Opera.

This year’s festival is dedicated to Maria Callas and the century since her birth in Manhattan on Dec. 2, 1923. She died of a heart attack at her home in Paris at age 53.

World-renowned French director Olivier Py, Artistic Director of Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and former director of Festival d’Avignon (2014-2022) directed one of Puccini’s most popular masterworks.

Idiosyncratic aspects of the Japanese musical tradition, climaxes, chamber music qualities and outbursts alongside the entire orchestra lend Butterfly its unique character and breathe a special life into it.

Athens Epidaurus Festival
Credit: Facebook/, Andreas Simopoulos/ Athens Epidaurus Festival

Held annually from June to August, the Athens Epidaurus Festival is one of the oldest performing arts festivals in Europe, offering both classical performances, including ancient Greek drama, and cutting-edge, avant-garde productions.

The Festival takes place at four unique venues connecting the past, present, and future: in Athens the awe-inspiring Odeon of Herodes and the former industrial complex of Peiraios 260, and, about two hours away from the capital, the mesmerizing Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus.

Famed for its extraordinary acoustics, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, built in the late 4th century BC, will host eight productions this summer, featuring the works of the Classical Greek tragedians, Euripides and Sophocles, and the comedic playwright Aristophanes.

Among the many highlights this year is the production of Euripides’ “Medea,” by the German theater director Frank Castorf, renowned for his use of improvisation and highly imaginative theatrical language.

Peiraios 260 in downtown Athens, 1km from the Kallithea Metro Station, provides the perfect space for the festival’s avant-garde and alternative productions. A typical example of 1970s industrial architecture, the venue is rapidly turning into one of the city’s major cultural centers.

This year’s program features a rich medley of performances, including Alexander Zeldin’s “The Confessions,” and Natasha Triantafylli’s thought-provoking “Marshall Plan – A Path of Perspectives,” as well as the AEF Urban Dance Contest – Hip Hop Battle & All Styles Battle.

For more information on this year’s program, venues, artists, and tickets, please visit the official AEF 2023 website.

The Lineup of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2023


June 1, 4, 7, 10 | Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini – Greek National Opera

June 12 | Anne-Sophie Mutter – Works by Bach, Vivaldi, Previn and more

June 15 | Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler – Teodor Currentzis & Utopia Orchestra

June 17 | Maria Callas Opera Gala – Roberto Alagna & Aleksandra Kurzak with the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra

June 18 | Stavros Xarchakos Live with Maria Farantouri, Yiannis Kotsiras and Iro Saia

June 19 | John Cale (from Velvet Underground) with the Athens Philharmonic Orchestra

June 21 | ERT National Symphony Orchestra (World Music Day) – Free Event

June 22 | The Waterboys Live

June 23 | Nils Frahm Live

June 24 | Gregory Porter Live

June 25 | Elli Paspala Live

June 27 | Sigur Roś Live

June 29 | Requiem by Giussepe Verdi – Lukas Karytinos & Athens State Orchestra

July 1 | Soundtracks by Alexandre Desplat – ERT National Symphony Orchestra

July 3 | Yiannis Aggelakas & the 100 Degrees

July 5 | Anouar Brahem Quartet – Jazz Music

July 8 | José James Live

July 10 | James Live – with Classical Orchestra and Gospel Choir

July 11 | Herbie Hancock Live

July 12 | Melody Gardot Live

July 15 | Works by Tchaikovsky and Grieg – Athens State Orchestra

July 16 | Kraftwerk Live

July 17 | Gilbert Gil & Family Live

July 26, 27, 29 & 30 | Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi – Greek National Opera

August 4 | Philippe Quesne – The Garden of Delights


July 7 & 8 | Hippolytus by Euripides – National Theatre of Greece

July 14 & 15 | Wasps by Aristophanes – National Theatre of Greece

July 21 & 22 | Medea by Euripides

July 28 & 29 | Frogs by Aristophanes

August 4 & 5 | Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles

August 11 & 12 | Hecuba by Euripides

August 18 & 19 | The Trojan Women by Euripides – State Theatre of Northern Greece

August 25 & 26 | Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

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