Athens Epidaurus Festival 2024: The Complete Program A comprehensive guide to Greece’s premier summer festival in Athens and Epidaurus.

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The Athens Epidaurus Festival is the pinnacle of Greece’s summer cultural calendar, celebrated annually with a rich legacy spanning over 60 years. This year’s festival promises an impressive lineup with 93 productions over 85 days, featuring around 2,500 performers and creators from across the globe.

The festival offers a diverse program encompassing music, theatre, dance, and visual arts, all while exploring contemporary themes such as Democracy, Justice, and Inclusion. Performances at the ancient theatres of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, both renowned for their exceptional acoustics, are among the highlights and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For more details, visit the Athens Epidaurus Festival official website.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Constructed in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (‘Irodio’ in Greek) is a significant cultural landmark known for its remarkable acoustics and historical importance. This ancient stone theatre consistently hosts a variety of distinguished performances.

Location: Athens, Attiki

June 1, 2, 6, and 11: “Tosca” by Greek National Opera, directed by Hugo De Ana. This opera is a dramatic tale of love and betrayal set in Rome, renowned for its powerful arias and intense emotional depth.

June 13: Anohni and the Johnsons will perform, blending soulful melodies with avant-garde music.

June 15: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and violinist Leonidas Kavakos will perform a selection of Beethoven’s chamber works, showcasing their virtuosity and deep musicality.

June 17: A tribute concert dedicated to legendary Greek composer Mimis Plessas, celebrating his 100th birthday with performances of his most cherished compositions.

June 18: The London Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Santtu-Matias Rouvali, will deliver a diverse program that demonstrates its technical excellence and expressive range.

June 21: To celebrate World Music Day, the ERT National Symphony Orchestra will present a special concert featuring a blend of classical and contemporary pieces.

June 25: Choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, known for her innovative approach to movement, will showcase a new contemporary dance work.

June 26: Loreena McKennitt will perform her unique blend of Celtic and world music, featuring selections from her extensive discography.

June 28: Under the baton of Lukas Karytinos, the Athens State Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, culminating in the iconic “Ode to Joy.”

June 30: The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, led by Sir Simon Rattle, will perform works by Dvorak, Mahler, Bartok, and Schubert, showcasing their precision and interpretative depth.

In July 2024, the Odeon continues to host exceptional performances:

July 4: The Grazer Philharmonic Orchestra, with pianist Alexia Mouza and conducted by Vassilis Christopoulos, will perform works by classical masters.

July 5 and 6: Sting will perform his greatest hits, blending rock, jazz, and world music.

July 8 and 9: Greek music icon Dionysis Savvopoulos will present a tribute to the Metapolitefsi era, featuring politically charged and socially reflective songs.

July 10: The Philharmonic Brass Orchestra, conducted by Philippe Auguin, will deliver a vibrant performance showcasing the rich sounds of brass instruments.

July 12: The Athens State Orchestra, conducted by Lukas Karytinos, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

July 14: Tania Tsanaklidou will celebrate her 50-year career with a retrospective of her music.

July 16: The acclaimed counter-tenor Jakub Józef Orliński will present a program of Baroque arias, showcasing his remarkable vocal range and emotive interpretation.

July 18: Jazz legend Charles Lloyd and his Sky Quartet, with Greek vocalist Maria Farantouri, will perform, blending jazz with traditional Greek music.

July 27, 28, 30, and 31: The Greek National Opera will present Verdi’s “La Traviata,” featuring renowned soprano Marina Rebeka as Violetta, a poignant story of love and sacrifice.

Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, a well-preserved structure from the late 4th century BC, is known for its excellent acoustics. Located within the sanctuary of Asklepios in Palea Epidaurus, this venue seats over 12,000 spectators and hosts significant cultural performances. The summer program includes plays by Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes, directed by renowned international artists.

Location: Epidaurus, Argolida

July 5 and 6: Timofey Kulyabin, an esteemed director making his Epidaurus debut, will present a contemporary political adaptation of Euripides’ tragedy “Iphigenia in Aulis.” This production features a distinguished cast of Greek actors and offers a fresh perspective on the ancient tale.

July 12 and 13: The National Theatre of Greece will present Aeschylus’ “Oresteia” trilogy. This performance explores themes of justice and retribution, examining the transformation of societal values and the enduring influence of the gods on human affairs.

July 19 and 20: “Ploutos,” a comedy by Aristophanes, will be performed. This play critiques societal attitudes towards wealth and morality, offering a satirical examination of economic disparity and human nature through its humorous narrative.

July 26 and 27: Tiago Rodrigues, the new artistic director of the Avignon Festival, will present “Not Hecuba.” This performance, featuring Comédie-Française, reimagines Euripides’ classic by blending the myth of Hecuba with the story of an actress and mother, offering a modern interpretation.

August 2 and 3: Euripides’ “The Bacchae” will depict the conflict between Dionysus and Pentheus, exploring themes of divine power and human resistance. This production examines the consequences of ignoring the divine and the resulting chaos.

August 9 and 10: Aristophanes's fantastical comedy Birds will be shown. This play follows two Athenians who create a utopian city among the birds, offering a sharp critique of contemporary political and social issues through its imaginative storyline.

August 23 and 24: Aeschylus’ “The Suppliants” will tell the story of Danaus’ daughters seeking asylum to escape forced marriages. This ancient drama highlights themes of refuge, human rights, and divine justice.

Little Ancient Theatre in Epidaurus

The Little Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, nestled within the verdant landscape of the Peloponnese, offers an intimate setting for innovative performances that blend classical texts with contemporary interpretations. This year’s Contemporary Ancients Cycle returns with a dynamic lineup that bridges the past and present, providing a unique cultural experience under the stars.

Location: Epidaurus, Argolida

July 26 and 27: “I, A Servant,” based on Euripides’ “Hecuba,” written by Vangelis Hatziyannidis and directed by Nikos Hatzopoulos.

August 2 and 3: “Iphigenia / Prey,” based on Euripides’ “Iphigenia in Aulis,” written by Vivian Stergiou and directed by Ekaterini Papageorgiou.

Musical highlights at the Little Theatre include:

July 5 and 6: International soprano Alexia Voulgaridou will perform classical lieder.

July 12 and 13: Jazz master Dimitris Kalantzis will present jazz arrangements of Hadjidakis and Tsitsanis’ works.

July 19 and 20: Eleonora Zouganeli will perform beloved songs from the folk and archontorebetiko genres.

Additionally, Parodos, the interdisciplinary artistic research program introduced in 2021, returns this year. It is coordinated by director Simos Kakalas, who will work with young artists on Euripides’ “Orestes.”

Pireos 260

Located in the Tavros district of Athens, Pireos 260 is a prominent venue for the Athens Epidaurus Festival. Sharing a block with the Athens School of Fine Art, Pireos 260 is accessible via Polykratous Street, with clear signage to guide visitors. This year’s program at Pireos 260 addresses the question: “How do we lead our lives? How do we bear our lives?” The performances delve into identity, technology’s impact, and societal seclusion, also highlighting moments of joy from togetherness. The themes of Democracy, Justice, and Inclusion thread through the performances, reflecting contemporary societal challenges.

Location: Athens, Attiki

June 5 to 7: Belgian director Guy Cassiers presents “Monsieur Linh and His Child,” exploring themes of identity and belonging.

June 5 to 7: Concurrently, Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new production, based on works by J.M. Coetzee, questions whether art can change the world or if this hope is utopian.

June 13 and 14: Caroline Guiela Nguyen’s “Lacrima” follows the creation of a royal garment to weave a tale of social oppression.

June 15 to 18: Giannis Skourletis’ “Songs of the Greek People – Drag Oratorio” blends drag, music, and social commentary in a bold performance.

June 17 to 23: Niketi Kontouri directs “Cryptogam,” written by Michalis Albatis in his debut playwriting endeavour, addressing contemporary societal issues.

June 28 to 30: Kornel Mundruczo’s “Parallax” examines the intersection of personal diversity and broader political stances.

June 29 and 30: Ayelen Parolin’s “Zonder,” a choreographic performance set to Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube, blending humour and social commentary.

June 15 and 16: The AEF Urban Dance Contest will showcase contemporary dance talents through the Hip Hop Battle & All Styles Battle.

July 21 to 25: Held at Pireos 260, Grape will feature innovative theatre and dance productions. Highlights include:

“Identity in Flux”: Exploring themes of personal and collective identity. “Justice and Citizenship”: Delving into societal structures. “Tech and Relationships”: Examining the impact of technology on human connections. “Hope in Uncertainty”: Reflecting on resilience and optimism.

Dionysiou Areopagitou Street

Dionysiou Areopagitou Street is a picturesque pedestrian walkway, maybe Europe’s most beautiful one, beneath the Acropolis. It will be transformed into a dynamic cultural space.

Location: Athens, Attiki

May 31 to July 6: Experience William Kentridge’s “More Sweetly Play the Dance” along Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. This large-scale projection spans eight screens and extends 40 meters, creating a striking visual experience that reflects on themes like the refugee crisis and political change. The imagery of people burdened with their belongings conjures thoughts of displacement and existential loneliness, transforming the procession into a symbol of movement and hope.

For more details, visit the Athens Epidaurus Festival official website.

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