One of the modern Greek political history’s most important events, the murder of EDA party MP, Grigoris Lamprakis, becomes a part of the lyrical repertoire.
In the Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage’s first commission, Vassilis Vassilikos’s emblematic novel, Z, is transformed into an opera set to the music of Minas Mpormpoudakis, with a libretto by Vangelis Chatzigiannidis, and with the composer and Nikos Vassiliou conducting. The result is bound together in Katerina Evangelatou’s sharp direction, and takes the stage at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on March 2, for a total of twelve performances. Also on stage, the distinguished contemporary music ensemble, Ergon Ensemble.
The Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage commissioned Z to Minas Mporboudakis, a composer who has found great international success, living and working in Germany. Kent Nagano, Juraj Valcuha, Tito Ceccherini, and Konstantinos Karidis are some of the conductors who have in recent years conducted major European orchestras, such as the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Stuttgart’s Southwest Radio Orchestra, RAI’s National Symphony Orchestra, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchester, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and the famed Ensemble Modern in Mpormpoudakis’s works. Based on award winning author Vangelis Chatzigiannidis’s work, the composer came up in Z with an opera exploring the soundscapes of the troubled 1960s. As he himself notes, “pedal fully to the metal, the whisper of a woman’s voice, distorted voices coming through the loudspeakers, stones hitting on closed shutters, esoteric voices and the rhythmic noise of a train’s trails, take us to soundscapes that unfold on two plains: the world of thought, and reality, setting the unanswered question: Why?”
Accessing Vassilikos’s novel with the conviction that it should make for an obviously condensed libretto, author Vangelis Chatzigiannidis defined “economy” as the key to the process: “Economy in roles, words, information. But not in people’s feelings or hidden thoughts.” Completely aligned with Minas Mpormpoudakis, Chatzigiannidis decided to focus on their heroes’ personal universes, highlighting them in the performance as almost equals of the action and the story’s “procedural” development, always weighed against the enormous political impact that the events of the time had . “Human nature, capable of the highest and the lowest, seems hopelessly unaltered through the decades,” says Vangelis Chatzigiannidis, who studied at the Athens Law School and the Veakis Drama School before turning to writing. Books by Chatzigiannidis have been translated in French (Albin-Michel), English (Marion Boyars), Italian (Crocetti), Spanish (Tropismos), Portuguese (Babel) and Turkish (in print). He was awarded Diavazo’s “Newcomer’s Award” (2000), and the French “Laure Bataillon” award (2004) for the novel “The Four Walls,” which was also on the shortlist for the British Independent “Foreign Fiction Prize” award in 2007.
This new production of the Greek National Opera’s Alternative Stage is directed by one of the most gifted directors of the new generation, Katerina Evangelatou, who is taking on the challenges of lyrical theater for the second time, following her great success directing Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann at the Perm State Opera. With a strong realist element and a dark poetic freedom in her direction, Katerina Evangelatou brings Z nerve, tension and immediacy, making for a work whose strength touches the public directly.
Set in the 1960s, from the tricycle’s accelerating gas, to TV’s black-and-white images, in Z everything is transformed into sound, sometimes charged with electricity, and sometimes portrayed through stygian electronica. The performance’s poetic element is filtered through the sets designed by Eva Manidaki, one of the most acclaimed designers.
The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) is the performance’s communications sponsor.
Conductor: Minas Mpormpoudakis (March 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17); Nikos Vassiliou (April 14, 15, 17, 18)
Libretto: Vangelis Chatzigiannidis, based on Vassilis Vassilikos’s novel of the same title
Directed by Katerina Evangelatou
Set design: Eva Manidaki
Costume design: Vassiliki Syrma
Lighting design: Simos Sarketzis
Where: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
When: March 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17 and April 14, 15, 17, 18; 8:30 pm
Admission: €12-25 (concessions apply)
For more information, please call +30 213 088 5700.