The Greek National Opera will present four performances of a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto as part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival on June 2, 5, 8 and 11.
The performances will take place at the 4,680-seat Odeon of Herodes Atticus located at the foot of the Acropolis. The production is directed by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Katerina Evangelatos, and conducted by Lukas Karytinos, the Artistic Director of the Athens State Orchestra. The wholly Greek cast features acclaimed soloists Dimitris Tiliakos, Christina Poulitsi, Dimitris Paksoglou, Petros Magoulas, and Mary-Ellen Nesi. Tickets are available now from the GNO Box Office at the SNFCC and Athens Festival Box Offices, and online via aefestival.gr and viva.gr. The production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
Rigoletto will be the second production Ms. Evangelatos will direct for the GNO, the first being the contemporary opera Z by Greek composer Minas Borboudakis for the company’s Alternative Stage in 2018.
In this new production Ms. Evangelatos applies her signature directorial approach with a view to shedding light on the dark and conflicted character of Rigoletto and setting the action within the corrupt society of an Italian backwater in the 1980s. She says:
“The cycle of violence depicted by Verdi in his Rigoletto is here transferred to a self-contained little world in the Italian provinces during the 1980s, where organized crime reigns supreme. Corruption, criminality, rape-this is the true face of what is a pietistic, conservative, and superstitious society. Eva Manidaki’s set-a timeworn Italian country mansion that stows the brutality and darkness of the work’s characters-is perfectly embedded within its physical Odeon setting, while Alan Hranitelj’s costumes complete the picture of a society in steep decline.”
Ms. Evangelatos is the third generation of artists from her family to collaborate with the GNO. Her father, Spyros Evangelatos, directed around 30 operas for the company over a 40 year period and her grandfather, composer and conductor Antiochos Evangelatos, led performances of 40 works in more than 100 new productions and revivals during his 32 year collaboration with the company. Her aunt, Daphne Evangelatos ha also performed as a mezzo-soprano and soloist with the company.
Conducting Rigoletto is the acclaimed maestro and artistic director of the Athens State Orchestra, Lukas Karytinos. The entirely Greek cast is led by baritone Dimitris Tiliakos. Mr. Tiliakos has previously performed Rigoletto with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Semperoper Dresden, and La Monnaie in Brussels of which Concerto.net wrote he “… intimately feels the nature of Rigoletto. The character evokes empathy thanks to the relevance and rigor of the incarnation of his voice…” Soprano Christina Poulitsi (Gilda), tenor Dimitris Paksoglou (Duke of Mantua), bass Petros Magoulas (Sparafucile), and mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nesi (Maddalena) round out the lead roles.
The Greek National Opera-founded in 1939-has a long tradition of presenting major summer productions at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus beginning in 1941 when the city was still under German occupation. It has presented productions at the Athens Epidaurus Festival since the inaugural festival in 1955.
Conductor: Lukas Karytinos
Director: Katerina Evangelatos
Sets: Eva Manidaki • Costumes: Alan Hranitelj
Choreographer / Movement coach: Patricia Apergi • Lighting: Eleftheria Deko
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
Duke of Mantua: Dimitris Paksoglou
Rigoletto: Dimitris Tiliakos
Gilda: Christina Poulitsi
Sparafucile: Petros Magoulas
Maddalena: Mary-Ellen Nesi
With the participation of the Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists of the GNO
From 1851, when the work debuted in Venice, right down until today, Rigoletto has been hailed as one of the best-loved operas of all time. With his Rigoletto, Verdi opened a new chapter in his career as a composer, presenting a work with its own distinct identity that was also more open to experimentation, with its sudden shifts between formal melody and dramatic recitative ensuring that the action unfolds at lightning speed.
The story tells of Gilda, daughter of the hunchbacked court jester Rigoletto, and her love for the dissolute Duke of Mantua, who introduces himself to her in the guise of a poor student. To take his revenge on the Duke for seducing his daughter, Rigoletto plots his murder. On discovering her father’s plans, Gilda decides to save her beloved by taking his place and sacrificing her own life.
This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.
Born in Athens to a celebrated family of artists, Katerina Evangelatos was appointed Artistic Director of the Athens Epidaurus Festival in September 2019.
She graduated with honours from the Drama School of the National Theatre of Greece as well as studying music at the Hellenic Conservatory. She holds a Master’s degree with Distinction in Theatre Directing from the Middlesex University in London (as a fellow of the Onassis Foundation). She continued her Directing Studies at the GITIS (Russian Academy of Theatre Arts) in Moscow. She speaks English, French and Russian. She is a member of the Studies Co. of Moraitis School and sits in the Alexis Minotis Bequest in Memory of Katina Paxinou scholarship committee of the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation.
Evangelatos made her directorial debut in 2006 at the Experimental Stage of the National Theatre of Greece with the performance Askisi Fantasias – Triti Entoli (Imagination Exercise – Third Commandment). Around that time, she also founded and managed the Eisodos kindynou stage at the Spyros A. Evangelatos Amphi-Theatre, where she presented three productions in their Greek debut (La Morte Amoureuse, The Suicide Club, The Spanish Tragedy).
Within the next few years, she directed over 20 theatre and opera productions at major cultural organisations in Greece and abroad, including the National Theatre of Greece, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the Onassis Cultural Foundation, the Greek National Opera, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre in Russia, and the State Theater of Augsburg in Germany.
Evangelatos is consistently active in theatre education with a focus on ancient drama and has been invited to give theatre classes and lectures both in Greece (Department of Theatre Studies of the University of Athens, Drama School of the National Theatre of Greece, American College of Greece) and abroad (United States, Russia, Iran, to name but a few). Recently, she was a guest lecturer at the New York University where she taught ancient drama to students from various departments. In 2018, she ran the International Ancient Drama Workshop of the National Theatre of Greece in Delphi.
Founded in 1939, the Greek National Opera is a public body and the sole opera house in Greece. It produces and stages operas, musical theatre, operettas, and ballets, and multi-disciplinary productions for its two stages at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Alternative Stage, as well as at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an open-air theatre in the center of Athens. The company’s repertory covers four centuries of lyrical theater, from the works of Claudio Monteverdi to those of contemporary composers. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera were both founded in 1939 alongside the opera company, then a part of the Royal Theatre, and a Children’s Chorus was founded in 2012. In addition to its opera programming, the GNO also encompasses the GNO Professional School of Dance, as well as education and community programs aimed at all age groups.
The GNO’s vision is to be one of Europe’s most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talent and inspires large and diverse audiences. Led by artistic director Giorgos Koumendakis and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org], its mission is to offer audiences high caliber productions by presenting operas, ballets, operettas, operas for children, and music recitals, among other events. The GNO’s main source of funding is the Greek State and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Over 60% of its annual budget is covered by state funding, with the rest coming from ticket proceeds, private sponsorship, and grants. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is the Greek National Opera’s biggest donor and to date, its grants to the GNO amount to €27.5 million.
A turning point in its history came in 2017 when the GNO relocated to a new state-of-the-art building at the architecturally striking Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which was conceived, designed, constructed, and equipped with a substantial grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Following completion, the SNFCC was delivered to the Greek state and the public in February 2017 through the SNF’s largest grant initiative to date, totalling €618 million. Assisted by a €5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the GNO relocated from Athens’ Olympia Theatre to the SFNCC and the two, purpose-built theaters designed by Renzo Piano, doubling its audience capacity to 1,400 seats in the opera hall and also doubling its ticket revenues.
The hall’s inaugural production in October 2017 was Strauss’ Elektra, starring the celebrated Greek mezzo Agnes Baltsa as Klytaemnestra. In 2019 a major grant of €20 million was announced by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to support the implementation of a four-year programming and development plan that will enhance the artistic outreach of the GNO and increase the promotion of its work overseas. The same year the GNO celebrated its 80th anniversary, commissioning and presenting works to reintroduce itself to the Greek and global audience through its new artistic identity and mission. This programming has included, among others: Verdi’s Don Carlo, a co-production of the Royal Opera House, London, the Metropolitan Opera (New York), and the Norwegian National Opera (Oslo), directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner; Berg’s Wozzeck directed by Olivier Py; Marina Abramović’s 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a co-production with Opéra national de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro di San Carlo; and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a co-production with Göteborg Opera (Sweden) and the Royal Danish Opera directed by John Fulljames.
For more information, visit nationalopera.gr/en.