Meet the Greek National Opera: Spring Gathering in New York

Left to right: Director of the Press Office of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN Ioannis Bouboukis, GNO Administrative and Finance Director Maria Anestopoulou, King Baudouin Foundation’s Deputy Director of Donor and Nonprofit Services Ellena Fotinatos, GNO Artistic Associate for Development and Fundraising Niki Xenou, and Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Dionyssios Kalamvrezos. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

NEW YORK – The Greek National Opera (GNO) in collaboration with the King Baudouin Foundation on May 9 held a meet-and-greet event with the participation of Media representatives as well as prominent cultural stakeholders at King Baudouin Foundation’s central offices at 10 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.

The event included a short presentation of GNO’s activities, the relocation to its new home at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s (SNF) largest single grant to the Greek State. SNF’s contribution to the GNO extends not only to the construction of its new facilities but through every aspect of its operation.

A presentation was also made outlining GNO’s four-year outreach program and development plan, supported through a major new grant of €20 million by the SNF to the GNO, which will reinforce GNO’s artistic outreach and the promotion of its work abroad.

GNO Artistic Associate for Development and Fundraising Niki Xenou gave the welcoming remarks to begin the event’s program. The King Baudouin Foundation’s Deputy Director of Donor and Nonprofit Services Ellena E. Fotinatos welcomed everyone to the offices of the well-known foundation which facilitates thoughtful, effective giving to Europe and Africa, announcing the partnership between GNO and the foundation. She then introduced Maria Anestopoulou, GNO Administrative and Finance Director, who gave the presentation which also included videos and the results concerning the productions and the audience’s reception since the beginning of the GNO’s operation in the new venues at the SNFCC.

A networking reception was also part of the program at the Greek National Opera’s Spring Gathering in New York. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

She noted that the SNF grant will support the development of targeted artistic collaborations, co-productions, guest productions, and international tours that will contribute to the formation of a new artistic identity for the GNO. The grant will also support a year-long program of events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, while at the same time a large promotional campaign in major media outlets across the world will amplify the GNO’s international appeal.

Anestopoulou also introduced Stelios Vassilakis, SNF Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives, who thanked everyone for attending the event and for their support of the GNO and having conversations about collaborations for the future. He spoke about GNO’s “great potential” since the move to SNFCC, and also the “great demand” as well as the importance of the organization becoming extroverted.

Vassilakis said, “The work in Greece is really well-known and first-rate but when you talk to people outside of Greece about the work of the Greek National Opera, very few people know about it, very few people are familiar with the first-rate productions that are taking place there. A lot is happening under the Artistic Directorship of Giorgos Koumendakis who has done a wonderful job. The Foundation has jumped in to support the Opera in this effort through a major grant 20 million last year that will help the organization focus on becoming more extroverted by establishing collaborations not only within Greece but most importantly outside of Greece. This is a major step. When you talk to Greek organizations about fundraising this is a term that doesn’t exist in their vocabulary at all and that’s because they have been supported rightly or wrongly by the Greek state for a very long period time, but Greece is under a severe and remains under a severe socio-economic crisis for the last eight years and things cannot continue the way they have in the past.”

Meet the Greek National Opera: Spring Gathering in New York included videos highlighting the great work and great potential of the Greek National Opera. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

He continued, “The Greek National Opera is not your typical traditional organization, it is not a museum that perhaps very few people know about, it is an institution that because of international productions, because of international collaborations, can bring to Athens collaborations that will get a lot of attention, so I think this is an important step and it will take a while, it’s not easy to come to the U.S. to a very competitive landscape and try to raise funds, especially now when you are not well-known, but you have to start somewhere, and even more important than raising funds at the beginning is to establish artistic collaborations that will show and not only take work to Greece, but bring the National Opera outside of Greece.

“When GNO Alternative Stage artistic director Alexandros Efklidis came last fall to the U.S., we talked about this, the difficulty of bringing productions from Greece to the U.S. because there has never been an established model and tradition. The GNO used to come to the U.S. to do one performance and then go… you cannot appear and disappear, there has to be a consistent presence, people have to see you here.”

Vassilakis encouraged the guests from American institutions to begin the collaboration process and show the GNO’s great potential.

For those planning to visit Athens, Anestopoulou noted the GNO’s productions, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich running in May at the Stavros Niarchos Hall and Norma by Bellini at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in June, the groundbreaking work at the Alternative Stage, and the participation each year in SNF’s Summer Nostos Festival as well as the GNO’s ongoing programs for children, people with disabilities, seniors, and families among others.

Meet the Greek National Opera: Spring Gathering in New York was held on May 9. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Among those present at the event were Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Dionyssios Kalamvrezos, the Director of the Press Office of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN Ioannis Bouboukis, ARCAthens Founder and Executive Director Aristides Logothetis, Fotios Kaliampakos, and New York Live Arts Chief Development Officer Dave Archuletta.

The presentation was followed by a networking reception.

More information about the Greek National Opera is available online: https://www.nationalopera.gr/en/.

For further information about the King Baudouin Foundation is also available online: www.kbfus.org.

Left to right: Director of the Press Office of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN Ioannis Bouboukis, GNO Administrative and Finance Director Maria Anestopoulou, King Baudouin Foundation’s Deputy Director of Donor and Nonprofit Services Ellena Fotinatos, GNO Artistic Associate for Development and Fundraising Niki Xenou, and Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Dionyssios Kalamvrezos. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

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