NEW YORK – The Hellenic-American Cultural Foundation (HACF) presented renowned conductor and pianist Marios Papadopoulos and Friends, a special concert at the Kaufman Music Center’s Merkin Hall in Manhattan on October 30.
The focus was on the work of the Greek conductor and pianist, Dr. Papadopoulos MBE, founder and music director of the Oxford Philharmonic, resident orchestra at the University of Oxford in England. He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's 2014 New Year's Honours List for his services to music.
The evening was divided into two parts, starting with an introduction to the new production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which Maestro Papadopoulos will be conducting in Athens in March 2019 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in collaboration with the Greek National Opera.
The director Alexandros Efklidis spoke briefly about his groundbreaking production with visuals depicting the design and sets. A fantastic performance of arias and duets from the opera followed with the impressive vocals of the Greek National Opera's coloratura-soprano Vassiliki Karayanni and baritone Dionysios Sourbis delighting the audience which erupted in enthusiastic applause following each piece.
The first two arias, sung by Karayanni, Venite inginocchiatevi and Deh vieni, non tardar, highlighted her range, hitting the high notes with solid technical skill and a beautiful clear tone. Crudel perche finora and Vedro mentr'io sospiro followed with the powerful Sourbis enchanting the audience with his vocals while the chemistry between the two singers in the duets was a scintillating revelation, even when Sourbis was singing offstage.
His interaction with the audience demonstrated not only his incredible voice, but his acting talent and charming sense of humor as well, perfect for the pieces from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, the famous Largo al factotum, and the duet between Rosina and Figaro which brought the first half of the program to a close. Karayanni also showed her remarkable range in Follie follie… sempre libera from Verdi’s La Traviata.
The performers and Maestro Papadopoulos received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the first half which left the audience eager to see the upcoming full production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the SNFCC. Papadopoulos noted that the Oxford Philharmonic is celebrating its 20th anniversary and he hoped to see everyone at the opening night of the opera in Athens.
For the second half of the evening, Maestro Papadopoulos on piano was joined by two principals from the Oxford Philharmonic, concertmaster Natalia Lomeiko playing a priceless Stradivarius violin, and solo cello Mats Lidstrom, in a performance of Tchaikovsky's epic Piano Trio in A minor. The beautiful piece was expertly performed, and the audience responded with a standing ovation which brought the performers back onstage for an encore, a lively Haydn Piano Trio.
A reception with Papadopoulos and the performers followed the concert.
Among those present were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Rev. Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos, and HACF Chairman Nicholas Kourides who gave the welcoming remarks and thanked everyone for their support. Also in attendance were the Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Amb. Dionyssios Kalamvrezos, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Menelaos Menelaou, Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Froso Beys, George Zapantis, TNH contributor Penelope Karageorge, and many music lovers and members of the community.
Kourides also gave the closing remarks, quoting Oscar Wilde, “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best,” adding that the evening’s concert was definitely the best.
Executive Director of the American Friends of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra April Riddle Gow spoke with The National Herald at the reception about the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra Patron’s Trip to Athens, March 20-24, 2019 which includes the opening night performance of the exciting new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the SNFCC among many other special activities. The trip is a unique opportunity to visit Athens, see its iconic sights, and also celebrate the arts.
For more information about the Greek National Opera: nationalopera.gr.