Melina Mercouri Featured at the Ancient Greek Theater Festival of Carnuntum

The late Greek actress Melina Mercouri. (Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis) The Ancient Greek Theater Festival of Carnuntum began on Saturday, at the amphitheater of the ancient Roman city of Carnuntum-today’s Austrian city of Petronell, featuring Melina Mercouri, the ‘most important Greek woman of the 20th-century’, who first conceived and instituted the term ‘European Capital of Culture’.

The festival was founded thirty years ago by the award-winning Greek-Italian visual artist and director Piero Bordin.

The festival was launched on Saturday with ‘Born Of Myths’, a poetic-musical journey to the roots of European civilization, with renowned Austrian theatre director Helga David and German composer Hans-Gunter Heumann, reading texts dating back 2,500 years and singing immortal Melina Mercouri songs, under conductor and artistic director of Vienna’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Konstantinos Diminakis.

This year’s festival program, which runs until August 23, includes three performances by the famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theater London, an archaic production based on renown Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz titled ‘The Recognized Unknown’, and a production by festival director Piero Bordin titled Summit Meeting, with contemporary references and parallels to the so-called ‘conference of the many Augustus’, also known as the Carnuntum Conference. There, Emperor Diocletian called a conference of emperors on November 11, 308 AD, in order to reorganize the system of tetrarchy (the regional Augustus rulers) and to bring stability to the Empire. Emperor Constantine emerged as the new strong man in the ensuing conflicts with the tetrarchs. The Carnuntum conference paved the way for the transition from the many ancient Gods to the rapid spread of Christianity, and this has been observed by Piero Bordin, who researched it extensively, having been born by a Greek mother in Vienna.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a pupil of Herod Atticus, once held his imperial seat at Carnuntum, which had experienced its flourishing in the second century AD, since when the ruins of its two Roman theaters are dated, and where each year the summer performances of the Festival of Ancient Greek Theater are held, while a parallel international symposium is dedicated to the history and the centuries-old significance of Greek theater.

In an interview to Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) some time ago, Piero Bordin had said that some 96 international productions have been staged at Carnuntum over the last three decades, and had stressed how ancient Greek theater has been one of the great achievements of the ancient Greeks, and how it is an essential element of the Greek cultural heritage-the basis of today’s European culture, and which needs to be exploited accordingly.

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