A New Era for the Greek National Opera Announced at the SNFCC

Greek National Opera Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis at the press conference with SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos via video from New York on the screen in the background. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – The Greek National Opera (GNO) held a press conference in the Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) on January 9. With Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni present and Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos via video, GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis announced major new efforts and introduced the new international outreach campaign, which will highlight the GNO’s work in Greece and abroad.

In recent years, the GNO has established itself as a major opera company in Europe with a recognizable artistic identity and distinctive brand. The original goals set by Koumendakis when he took over as Artistic Director in 2017- expanding the repertoire, new assignments, fresh interpretations of classical works, international collaborations, linking opera with fine art- have now been realized and have secured a foundation for the challenges of the new era.

Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera Giorgos Koumendakis and Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni at the press conference announcing the opera company’s new outreach efforts. Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos

Koumendakis said, “In the 12 months since the announcement of the extraversion donation by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, I believe we have all seen and enjoyed the fruit of this endeavor, with the generous support of the SNF and with determination from the GNO.

“Throughout the year, my co-workers and I traveled, we had many creative discussions with foreign organizations, artists, opera companies, and presented the work of our organization with the aim of preparing the next steps for outreach. Today, we are announcing many of our upcoming collaborations. Others, such as those that came from our recent trip to America, will be announced at a later date when the details are finalized,” he added.

In closing, Koumendakis pointed out that within the next two months the GNO will also present the full program for 2021, the year in which the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 will be celebrated, and supported by a donation from the SNF, thus cementing the GNO as an international destination for art lovers.

Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni praised the work of the GNO and Koumentakis as well as the contribution of the SNF to the development of the Opera.

“The GNO renaissance began in 2017 with its relocation to the SNFCC facilities, which provided the conditions that propelled the GNO in many cases ahead of European operas. (…) We all agree that all the major names announced today would have no reason to come to Athens if they did not trust the GNO, if they did not know that they would link their name to an opera company that has now arrived on the European cultural map,” she said.

“Thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and to Mr. Dracopoulos, personally, the Greek National Opera is an organization that Greek citizens can be proud of,” concluded the minister.

Finally, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos, on the same page as Koumendakis, emphasized the shared sense of responsibility and the vision which through hard work will further promote the Greek National Opera.

He remarked, “One year ago, here in Stavros Niarchos Hall, we announced a new grant to the Greek National Opera (GNO) for an ambitious four-year plan of action. That plan aims to enhance the GNO’s outreach capacity and contribute to its development by continuing to invest in its people, its vision and ideas, its artistic perspective, and its promising future informed by a long history. A great deal has happened since then. In the intervening year, the GNO has grown its capacity and further cultivated its artistic vision, become more extroverted in outlook, opened up to new audiences, bolstered its staff, traveled beyond Athens. It has developed collaborations with important international cultural organizations like the Opera Comique in Paris, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and la Monnaie in Brussels, as well as creative synergies with distinguished and promising artists, and has spread its wings to the U.S.

Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera Giorgos Koumendakis and Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni at the press conference held in the Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos

“Today, the GNO unveiled a new communication campaign that will spotlight the caliber of its work in order to reach a public as broad as possible, within and beyond Greece. All of us at SNF offer our best wishes for the GNO in gaining the appreciation it merits amongst the world’s great opera companies,” Dracopoulos concluded.

The GNO’s artistic outreach plan also includes commissioning new productions. Through a GNO commission in collaboration with nonprofit organization NEON, internationally acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos will create a program of visual installations as part of a three-year cycle, The Artist on the Composer.

The launch of the new campaign, centered on the theme of birth, coincides with the 80th anniversary of the first GNO performance in 1940, celebrating the organization’s new philosophy, storied past, and creatively rich present.

More information about the GNO is available online: https://www.nationalopera.gr.

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