Greek Opera Hits High Notes During Crisis

ATHENS (  – Greece’s National Opera has gone from being a loss-making business to an income-generator with a brand new fan base.

Three years ago, the Greek National Opera had an accumulated debt of 17 million euros. Today, that has been massively reduced by streamlining the organization, reducing the operating cost and coming to settlements with creditors and suppliers.

“It’s quite funny but in very difficult times, a genre which is rather expensive finds itself flourishing. It’s very, very important for the Greek culture in general and for this theater in particular to open up to a larger audience and to educate the audience of tomorrow,” says Rodula Gaitanou, the Director of Cinderella, performed at the National Opera.

Despite a reduction in state funds, the number of productions has increased. One of the solutions has been to take performances out of the walls of the opera’s historic theater and trying out unexpected venues. These include the central metro station at Syntagma Square and the bustling port of Piraeus. The aim is to attract a new fan base.

“Such artistic actions represent the role of the National Opera in society in times of crisis. It breaks out of its walls and presents high-end productions in unexpected places trying to fill the lives of people with something beautiful and noble,” says the opera’s Artistic Director Myron Michailidis.

A new opera house is also being built south of Athens. Designed by Renzo Piano, it will be part of a cultural center funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The new opera building will double audience capacity and be big enough to house major international productions.

The 600 million euro project will also include a national library. The plan is to turn to complex over to the Greek government when it is completed in 2015.