ATHENS – The Greek National Opera showed the world culture is well and truly back in Greece with a very special open-air concert by world-renowned mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili at the Roman Agora in the shadow of the Acropolis on July 18.
In front of a socially distanced audience, which included many of the health service workers who have so effectively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in Athens, the concert launched All of Greece One Culture, a nationwide series of cultural events from the Ministry of Culture and Sports, to reboot Greece's cherished cultural industries, which have been closed since March as part of the country's pragmatic response to the pandemic.
Culture has always been ingrained in Greece's DNA, from pioneering modern theatre to setting the stage for a young Maria Callas, and before the pandemic struck the Greek National Opera had risen to a forefront of a cultural renaissance in Athens, sparked by artistic responses to the financial crisis and supported strongly by government and public institutions.
Anita Rachvelishvili is a true opera star and one of the finest mezzo-sopranos of her generation. The Greek National Opera Orchestra was be conducted by Lukas Karytinos and the concert's program included famous arias by Verdi, Cilea, Gounod, and Saint-Saëns.
The Greek National Opera celebrates its 80th anniversary this year and prior to lockdown had announced a hugely ambitious program to establish itself as one of the world's great opera houses, including co-productions with some of the other great opera houses of our times and collaborations with artists such as Rachvelishvili, Yorgos Lanthimos and Marina Abramovic. Its 2020/21 season is set to be even more ambitious and will be at the forefront of a series of national events to mark the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution.
The Concert was live streamed around the world and is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORNyNrjLAlM&feature=youtu.be.
The live streaming of the recital was made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the Greek National Opera's artistic outreach.