For three days only, the first musical from the Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera, a «work full of powerful melodies based on Cornaro’s masterpiece», Erotokritos, will be in town at Thessaloniki’s Concert Hall, reminding us of all those who loved despite hate, war and, most importantly of all, differences.
Για τρεις μέρες μόνο, το πρώτο μιούζικαλ από την Εναλλακτική Σκηνή της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Λυρικής Σκηνής, ένα «σημερινό αλλά και διαχρονικό έργο», ο Ερωτόκριτος, θα βρίσκεται στην πόλη στο Μέγαρο Μουσικής Θεσσαλονίκης, υπενθυμίζοντας μας όλους όσους αγαπούσαν παρά το μίσος, τον πόλεμο και, κυρίως, τις διαφορές.
Per soli tre giorni, il primo musical prodotto dalla Scena alternativa dell’Opera nazionale greca, un’opera «piena di potenti melodie basate sul capolavoro di Kornaros», Erotocrito, solcherà lo scenario della Sala concerti di Salonicco, ricordandoci di tutte quelle persone che hanno amato nonostante l’odio, la guerra e, soprattutto, le differenze.
Written around 1600 by Vitsentzos Kornaros (1553-1613), Erotokritos is a verse romance with more than 10,000 lines of rhyming fifteen-syllable couplets through which the poet relates the trials and tribulations suffered by two young lovers, poor Erotokritos and Aretousa, daughter of Herakles, the King of Athens. The plot of the poem is hardly original, and the influence of Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto is evident: hierarchy gets in the way of love, and only by proving his honor, friendship, bravery and courage can the hero win the hand of his beloved. A classic example of Greek Renaissance literature, the romance become one of the most important works of Cretan literature both for its extremely witty use of the Cretan dialect and the usual presence of music accompaniment in its public representations.
Holding firmly onto these two elements, Konstantinos Rigos (director, choreographer and set designer) and Dimitris Maramis (composer and conductor) try to blow off the dust from this four-century-old epitome of irrepressible love, driving into the ever-welcoming and at the same time barbed arms of Contemporariness, that faceless and amorphous container where most art expressions end up, nolens volens. And so, with the help of a male chorus dressed up in female clothes, a jaunty hero with a selfie-ready smartphone, some headphones here and a lot of minimalism there, the former brings the poem to the 21st Century, while the latter relies on a fan of modern to contemporary music genres, with jazz-galore and a touch of blues, to keep everything afloat. Indeed, if it weren’t for the exquisite eight-member band (violin – Kostantinos Pavlakos, viola – Dimosthenis Fotiadis, cello – Myrto Talakoudi, double bass – Michalis Sapountzis, saxophone – Alkis Karizonis, trumpet – Christos Emezidis, trombone – Philimon Stefanidis, percussion – Nikos Baryamidis and piano – Dimitris Maramis himself) that industriously accompanies, define and contains the singing and dancing cast, the play as a whole would probably sink in a sea of banality and clichés.
As a matter of fact, other than the impressive vocal interpretation of both the eight-manned chorus (Nikos Ziaziaris, Ilias Kapandais, Nikolaos Katsigiannis, Andreas Metaxas-Mariatos, Stamatis Pakakis, Giorgos Papadakis, Stratis Stil, Spiros Sokos) and the five-member main cast (Erotokritos – Thodoris Voutsikakis, Aretousa – Marina Satti, Polydoros – Gautier Velissaris, Nena – Ioanna Forti and Rigas – Kostis Mavrogenis), there is hardly anything else worth noting under this newly polished Cretan sun. Taking into account the popularity of the play among the Greek audience, one would have expected a larger amount of audacity in tackling this cultural cornerstone, the same audacity that its original author showed when transposing Pierre de la Cypede’s Paris et Vienne, a standard medieval French romance that lacked, however, any psychological and sentimental development in the characters, both present in the version of the skilled storyteller and sensitive interpreter of human heart that was Vitsentzos Kornaros.
There are many different co-existing ways of being in time and belonging to it, and there are even more ways to depict this relation we call Contemporary Art. Each and every one of these ways, however, include a risk, a chance of failure, an unavoidable moment of truth, and it is by taking that risk, by accepting that potential failure and by looking that truth right in the eyes, that any depiction of life (i.e. art) becomes credible, convincing, justified. Doing otherwise only leads to a safe and self-complaisant affirmation of what we already know.
The show is still playing
Thessaloniki Concert Hall
25 Martiou & Paralia – Thessaloniki
from 9 to 11 March 2018
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
the Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera presents
Dimitris Maramis: Erotokritos – Δημήτρης Μαραμής: Ερωτόκριτος
based on Erotokritos by Vitsentzos Kornaros
composer and conductor Dimitris Maramis
director, choreographer and set designer Konstantinos Rigos
associate set designer Mary Tsagari
costume designer Yiorgos Segredakis
lighting designer Christos Tziogas
live camera Vassilis Kechagias
cast Thodoris Voutsikakis, Marina Sati, Gautier Velissaris, Ioanna Forti, Kostis Mavrogenis
chorus Nikos Ziaziaris, Ilias Kapandais, Nikolaos Katsigiannis, Andreas Metaxas-Mariatos, Stamatis Pakakis, Giorgos Papadakis, Stratis Stil, Spiros Sokos
orchestra Kostantinos Pavlakos, Dimosthenis Fotiadis, Myrto Talakoudi, Michalis Sapountzis, Alkis Karizonis, Christos Emezidis, Philimon Stefanidis, Nikos Baryamidis, Dimitris Maramis