Athens and Epidaurus Festival, 2012
From Mitropoulos and Callas to Rostropovich, Pavarotti, Leonidas Kavakos and Dimitris Sgouros. From Rondiris and Koun to Streller, Peter Hall, Noh theatre, Bunraku puppet theatre, and the Peking Opera. From Balanchine to Pina Bausch, and from Nureyev and Fonteyn to Martha Graham and Alicia Alonso.
Above all, however, it is a venture with an eventful past often clouded by events in Greece’s recent history. A venture that, over the last six years, has taken on a youthful vitality, and openness. A reversal of this state of affairs was clearly necessary – to pursue modernism once more, to systematically open up the Festival to cutting-edge international productions, and to promote young Greek artists who have something to say to contemporary audiences. To spread the events of this arts festival across the entire city, to seek out new and different audiences, and to cater for ever more arts lovers through the select events of a contemporary festival. A new identity – a festival that is inclusive, that reflects its host city, and that brings the livelier aspects of society back into play. This is the challenge to be met; work to this end began in earnest in 2006, and the wager has yet to be won.
The first production to take place in the orchestra of the Epidaurus Ancient Theatre was in 1938: a Sophoclean tragedy Electra, was revived before a large audience at the “most beautiful theatre in the world” since ancient times. Sophocles’ tragedy was performed without sets or lighting in the late afternoon sunshine.
In 1957, the theatre designed by Polykleitos the Younger welcomed the work of Aristophanes into its fold. Maria Callas, also appeared at this theatre in the Argolid, performing in productions of Bellini’s Norma (1960) and Cherubini’s Medea (1961).
Foreign theatre companies have also been called upon to appear, as have young artists. Academic performances of the material were gradually interspersed with more experimental productions. Until recently, the Festival was criticised for the dull nature of its theatre company selection criteria, and accused of stagnation and monotony.
Source: Travelling News