Greek National Opera Suspends Performances Due to Coronavirus

March 11, 2020

ATHENS – Performances at the Greek National Opera (GNO) have been suspended as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus, the GNO announced on its website. Among the performances suspended is the World Premiere of The Papess Joanne, a new work by composer and faculty member at the College of Charleston Yiorgos Vassilandonakis, commissioned for GNO’s 80th anniversary.

The GNO’s announcement on the suspended performances follows:

As part of the precautionary measures against the coronavirus spread, the Greek National Opera announces the suspension of its performances on 7 and 8 March 2020.

The situation will be re-evaluated, and further announcements will be made on Monday 9 March 2020.

More specifically, the following performances are suspended:


  • The Papess Joanne at the Stavros Niarchos Hall on 8 March
  • Europeras 1 &2 on the Alternative Stage on 7 March.

All ticket holders of The Papess Joanne will be contacted by the Greek National Opera’s box office to be offered a refund or the possibility to exchange their tickets for another performance date, or for another production.

According to the GNO website, The Papess Joanne comes to the Stavros Niarchos Hall 154 years after the release of the “anti-Christian and malevolent” novel of Emmanouel Rhoides. The libretto, which bears the stamp of writer Vangelis Hadjiyannidis, is based on Rhoides’ notorious novel, which was severely criticized in its time due to the harsh criticism it unleashed against the representatives and practices of the church.

The new opera, which Vassilandonakis composed within a two-year period, is two-act and divided in 15 scenes.

The multi-award-winning composer was born in Greece and immigrated to the U.S. in 1989. He has written music for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice and chorus, electronic and multimedia music, opera and many works for the cinema and theatre in the USA.

Vassilandonakis noted on the GNO website, “My goal was to portray a restless and unconventional spirit, a tragic and at the same time romantic figure, that is constantly transforming itself, destroying and reorienting itself against everything, to the very end.

“The heroine meanders in two music universes. The first tries to listen to the historical and geographical context of the work, acting in a descriptive capacity. The second intervenes in a psychological, emotional, spiritual, underground, abstract and transcendental manner, echoing from times to times Rhoides’ voice. These two music worlds sometimes operate autonomously, and other times coexist or come into conflict.

“The compositional approach is modern, free and open to music elements, techniques and processes free from time or style limits. It starts with sounds which function in a narrative capacity and then acquire music substance as sources of harmonic and timbral material, building a parallel musical narrative which serves and develops along with the inner world of the characters and the dramatic structure.”

The new opera’s direction has been assigned to one of the most prestigious theatre directors of the younger generation, Dimitris Karantzas. The director noted on the GNO’s website, “The performance, based on Vangelis Hadjiyannidis’ very condensed libretto which preserves Rhoides’ style unaltered, follows the course of the Papess Joanne through very short fragmented poetic images. From ignorance to knowledge, from innocence to maturity and power. Everything underneath a sky that will trap and suck them up. Yiorgos Vassilandonakis’ composition is an unexpected modern proposal.”

More information is available online: www.nationalopera.gr.


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