ATHENS – Can someone really sing a life – put flesh and blood and bone into music, weave in passion and pain, agony and joy, fate, chance and shattered, but also realized dreams? A muse could sing a life, as Homer told us, and in our time soprano Katia Paschou brought to life Angelos and Lito Katakouzenos, two of the remarkable men and women of another time, the fabled Generation of the Thirties.
With seven thrilling, often heart-rending songs in Greek with lyrics by Nikos Moraitis and music by Christos Papageorgiou, at the premiere of the musical presentation titled Lito’s Song – A Life, a Continuous Song, Paschou and her fine accompanist Apostolos Palios resurrected the scintillating couple in the very home where they lived since 1960, bringing tears to the eyes of some guests who understood no Greek and were introduced to Lito only by brief program notes and Paschou’s incandescent performance.
Introduced musically by Palios’ shimmering Reverie of Claude Debussy, the program presented evocative lyrics beautifully set to music ranging from operatic to entechno to traditional Greek, spiced with elements of jazz and musical theater, each piece prompting enthusiastic applause.
In the apartment in Athens – Vasilissis Sofias Boulevard #4 – where the Greek Parliament is visible through the window-walls and Mt. Lycabetos glows in the distance, one can still feel the warmth of the love from the five-decades love-affair-in-marriage of Angelos and Lito Katakouzenos and the electricity and crackle of wit from “the glorious festive nights where the greatest figures of the era gathered,” at Greece’s most brilliant and celebrated salon.
This is the Katakouzenos House Museum (KHM) which opened in 2008. Lito’s Song – A Life, a Continuous Song, with Artistic Supervision by Paris Mexis, was commissioned to celebrate the museum’s 10 anniversary last year, and was brought back by popular demand in 2019.
Sophia Peloponnissiou-Vassilacos, KHN Curator and archivist and Secretary of the Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos Foundation, was the gracious hostess and speaker on a beautiful September evening that still offered a taste of summer in the warm breeze on the balcony.
In their various homes the beautiful Lito, a writer, and Angelos, a physician and pioneering psychiatrist who reminds of Cary Grant, hosted foreign luminaries like Marc Chagal, William Faulkner, and Albert Camus – and radiant Hellenes like George Seferis, Manos Hajidakis, and many others, fostering friendships, sparking creativity, and engendering hope even through the dark years of occupation, civil wars, and dictatorship.
In the tumultuous years leading up to World War II the friends of the Katakouzenos couple, the Generation of the Thirties, announced to an apprehensive world that the soul of Greece was not entombed in museums but was alive and thriving in living Hellenes who would soon thrill them both with their resistance to the Axis powers and the literature and music they would birth.
Performances are October 4, 11, 18, 25. For information visit: katakouzenos.gr/to-tragoydi-tis-litos.