Greek Opera and the Greek Revolution Presented in Astoria

Stefanos Koroneos, Nikoletta Rallis, Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos, and Stella Papatheodorou performed at the Stathakion Center in Astoria. Photo by Costas Bej

ASTORIA – Greek Opera and the Greek Revolution was presented at the Stathakion Center in Astoria on March 24. The free event was sponsored by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York and featured Artistic Director and Pianist Pavlos Kordis, Stefanos Koroneos (bass), Stella Papatheodorou (soprano), Nikoletta Rallis (soprano), and Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos (tenor). The talented artists performed pieces from two Greek operas Markos Botsaris (1860) and Frossini (1868) both by Greek composer Pavlos Karrer.

Nektarios Antoniou, a gifted singer in his own right and Protopsaltis at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan, was the keynote speaker. He offered insights into the works of Greek opera, their history and connection to the Greek War of Independence. Antoniou also noted the hope of all the artists that these remarkable works will become more widely known internationally, just as much as the national operas of other nations are known. He outlined the dramatic plots of both operas which relate to the War of Greek Independence, the one, of course, featuring Botsaris one of the heroes of 1821 and Frossini which relates the tragic fate of a married Greek woman in Ioannina during the rule of Ali Pasha. The score of Frossini was once thought lost until a homeless man found a copy, rescuing it from the garbage.

The program began with Markos Botsaris- Act 2: No. 8 Cavatina, Act 4: No. 16 Intermezzo e Romanza, and Act 1: No. 2 Canzonetta di Marko.

Stefanos Koroneos, Nikoletta Rallis, Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos, and Stella Papatheodorou performed at the Stathakion Center in Astoria. Photo by Costas Bej

After a brief intermission, the performance continued with Frossini- Act 4: No. 15 Preludio Recitativo e Preghiera per Basso sung by Koroneos, followed by Act 4: No. 16 Gran Scena della Confessione, a moving piece with Frossini confessing her sins to her father. The final piece was from Markos Botsaris- Act 4: No. 17 Terzetto and featured all four of the singers.

With an impressive list of credits among them, the performers demonstrated their skills in the beautiful pieces by Karrer. Koroneos with his powerful bass gave a solid performance. Papatheodorou is a rising star with an impressive range. Besides her talent as a singer, Rallis is also the President of Wilmington Music Festival in North Carolina and the Founder and President of Olympia Arts LLC, home to Eurasia Festival and New York International Vocal Competition. Kordis conducted the U.S. premiere of Markos Botsaris as part of his graduating recital at Bard College in November 2017. Tsinopoulos, who has received awards from UNESCO for his contributions to culture and classical music, has made it his mission to promote Hellenic opera and establish it in the repertoire of the international opera scene. The performance left many hoping to see a fully-staged production soon.

The music lovers of all ages who filled the seats at the Stathakion Center gave a standing ovation at the end, appreciating the dynamic voices of the artists who believe so strongly in promoting Greek opera. Antoniou noted that without their efforts the event would not have been possible. He also thanked Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York President Petros Galatoulas for hosting the event. Also in attendance were Argyris Argitakos- AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 President, many members of the Federation of Hellenic Societies including General Secretary Nomiki Kastanas and Second Vice President Cleanthis Meimaroglou, and community members. The renowned soprano Eleni Calenos was also among those present.

Stefanos Koroneos, Nikoletta Rallis, Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos, and Stella Papatheodorou. Photo by Costas Bej
Stefanos Koroneos, Eleni Calenos, and Nektarios Antoniou after the performance at the Stathakion Center. Photo by Eleni Sakellis