Australian superstar Tina Arena reflected on her amazing experience performing in the Herodes Atticus amphitheatre in Athens in September 2016, in an interview published in The Guardian’ Australia series of ‘our favourite musicians’.
“It was the most exquisite venue I have ever had the privilege to play. I’ve been fortunate enough to play some extraordinary venues – the Sydney Opera House (the view and location is just otherworldly and it’s in our back yard); the Royal Albert Hall in London is something I really loved – but there was something about the Herodes Atticus that was magical and mystical. Performing in an outdoor stone auditorium – a Greek theatre in the true sense of the word – that is almost 2,000 years old, and to experience how the natural acoustics resonate, was a profound experience for me.” said Arena who performed at the time with her friend George Perris and Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis.
“I remember walking out there and having shivers. As you walk up the stone stairs with their wrought-iron balustrade handrail, behind, there’s a massive poster of Maria Callas adorning that very stage. It was taken towards the end of her life (she died, around my age now, in Paris) and she has several bouquets of flowers in her hands. She was a guttural and instinctive performer who stood up for what she believed in. She was misunderstood – as a lot of strong women are unfortunately – but she gave the world a gift that continues to bowl us over. So when I was walking out on stage with Maria Callas looking over my shoulder, I just thought: “Oh my god, this is really happening.” It was a pinch-me moment.”
Tina Arena confessed that she loved all things Greek including, the literature, the architecture, the history, the humility and the warmth of the people adding that she grew up in Melbourne with a lot of Greeks and “my mother and father are both born and bred Sicilians. The Greeks at one stage ruled Sicily, so there’s a phenomenal amount of cultural similarities.”
“When I stepped off that stage I was euphoric. Afterwards, we all went to dinner at a roof terrace restaurant that overlooked the Acropolis. That’s what you do in Greece – you do a gig and then you go out for dinner late at night. We just sat out there and took in that extraordinary view and felt grateful to be alive.”