One of the most famous operas of the 20th century comes back to the Greek National Opera after almost a quarter of a century. Based on a novel by Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk treats the subject of woman’s position in the provincial society. At the same time, Shostakovich outlines exceptionally critical portraits of institutions such as the church and the police. The work became worldwide known in 1936 when, after Stalin had visited the performance, newspaper “Pravda”, an official instrument of the communist party, published an article titled “Confusion instead of music” condemning the music as vulgar, rough and petit bourgeois, and criticizing the work’s positive stance toward its murderess protagonist. The opera was banned in the Soviet Union and it was performed only after the death of Stalin, in 1962, in a new version. Today the work is performed almost exclusively in its original version, allowing audiences worldwide to enjoy its inspired, tense and powerful music.
The Greek National Opera has assigned the direction of Shostakovich’s masterpiece to Fanny Ardant, an important figure in the world of French cinema and theatre. Ardant, a star of 60 films and 30 plays, Truffaut’s muse, Zeffirelli and Polanski’s protagonist and Depardieu’s unsurpassed partner, collaborates for the first time with the Greek National Opera, after her first direction of a musical theatre work, Sondheim’s Passion, at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, in 2016.
Through this production Ardant introduces to the Greek audience two great collaborators: distinguished German set designer Tobias Hoheisel and famous costume designer Milena Canonaro, who has won four Oscars for Best Costume Design (Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, Hugh Hudson’s Chariots of Fire, Sofia Coppola’s Maria Antoinette and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel), was the costume designer in movies, such as: The Clockwork Orange, The Midnight Express, Out of Africa, as well as in important opera productions at the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, the Teatro Alla Scala, the Salzburg Festival, the Vienna State Opera, among others.
The director states: “Lady Macbeth puts before us a mirror. And we look at ourselves in it. Lady Macbeth is our wild reflection, restless and free. How can the part of ourselves which fights back against laws survive in a conventional and uniform society? To love criminals is a risk. And I take it. I love Katerina Izmailova. She is not only one of Leskov’s characters in an opera of Shostakovich; she is also an ever-present person even in our own time; and if we pay attention, we may meet it. I love those who are not afraid of the verdict, the sanctions of society, the parties, the groups, the collective thinking. I watch them walking on a tightrope, fragile perhaps, but vibrating and incandescent. I dread the moment they will fall. I understand that they prefer to die than to destroy their dreams. I admit that they are a danger to the society of merchants and profits. I admire the cost they are prepared to pay in order to remain free and follow their passion. Being accountable is part of their own rules of the game. I am glad they have journeyed through life like stars in a solar system whose sun is black. I adore the story of Katerina, the Lady Macbeth from the province of Mtsensk. To me she is like a picture. I received her as a gift which I would like to offer you. I told myself: Time, politics don’t matter. Context, circumstances don’t matter. Laws don’t matter. There will always be those who obey and those who order, the follower and the leader, the one waiting in line and the other who just leaves it, one day or another, after having waited for long for the real and violent joy, because life’s calling is more powerful than anything else. And so, I keep Lady Macbeth in the region of Mtsensk, in her province, in the Tsars’ empire, in her environment, the one of merchants. Shostakovich’s music even richer and with a starker contrast than the text itself, recounts to us the complexity of Katerina and her rivals, how her melancholy was overpowered by anger, blasphemy and the act that cannot be undone, how this contradictory and scandalous heroine makes us want to live, even -and for the most part- dangerously. And since the Greek shores have welcomed me, may the Olympian Gods – if they deign to look at me- guide and protect me.”
Conductor: Vassilis Christopoulos
Director: Fanny Ardant
Sets: Tobias Hoheisel
Costumes: Milena Canonero
Lighting: Luca Bigazzi
Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos
With the GNO Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists
Regular: 15€ – 90€
Students, reduced: 15€
Limited visibility: 10€
Link to online booking to be announced soon.
Greek National Opera – Stavros Niarchos Hall. Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
About Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is a project that includes the construction and complete outfitting of new facilities for the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO), as well as the creation of the 210,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park.
In funding the SNFCC, the Foundation’s vision is to provide the country and the city with the new institutional foundations it needs to move forward and with a framework for the future. Education, culture and sustainability, the SNFCC’s three main elements, are essential requirements in enhancing the potential of the city and its people and placing them within a twenty first century global context.
The magnitude of the project and of the Foundation’s dreams and hopes required the impact and the creative presence of a visionary architect. In February 2008, following a closed international design competition, the Foundation’s Board of Directors unanimously selected the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (www.rpbw.com). In selecting renowned architect Renzo Piano, the Foundation chose an architect at the forefront of the architectural profession, who possesses vision, intellectual curiosity and a historical and geographical understanding of the project’s location and significance.
How to get there
For convenient access to and from the SNFCC, transportation by shuttle bus is available daily to visitors, free of charge. A minibus bearing the SNFCC logo departs from Syntagma Square (intersection with Ermou Street), with a stopover at the Syggrou-Fix Metro station (Syggrou Avenue), and arrives at the south side of the SNFCC Canal (near the GNO building) and vice versa.
The shuttle bus is accessible to people in wheelchairs, following prior scheduling via phone. To best accomodate visitors that would like to make use of this service we kindly ask that they let us know in advance via phone (+30 216 8091000) about the time and stop of interest according to following timetable.
On Sundays, from 10.00 to 13.00, the shuttle bus runs only from Syggrou-Fix to the SNFCC and vice versa, due to the scheduled changing of the Presidential Guard in front of the Hellenic Parliament. In the event of special traffic regulations the schedule of shuttle bus, might be modified accordingly.
By Bus or by Metro & Bus:
From the Center of Athens
Lines Β2, 550: These lines pass through the metro station Syggrou Fix where you can change means of transport. Getting off at the “Onasseio” stop on Syggrou Avenue southbound, head south in the direction of the sea, up to Evripidou Street (junction with Syggrou Avenue by-lane).
Lines A1, B1, 130, 217, 860: Getting off at the “Tzitzifies” stop on Ethnarchou Makariou Avenue. Move on the avenue towards Glyfaga, then left onto Epaminontas Street and finally right onto Peisistratou Street.
130: Piraeus – Nea Smyrni (Tzitzifies Stop from Piraeus; Delta Stop to Piraeus)
217: Piraeus – Dafni Station (Tzitzifies Stop from Piraeus; Delta Stop to Piraeus)
550: Kifissia – Palaio Faliro (Evgenideio Stop, Syggrou Avenue northbound, Onassio Stop southbound)
860: Palaio Faliro – Schisto (Tzitzifies Stop from Piraeus; Delta Stop to Piraeus)
Α1: Piraeus – Voula (Tzitzifies Stop from Piraeus; Delta Stop to Piraeus)
Β1: Piraeus – Ano Glyfada (Tzitzifies Stop from Piraeus; Delta Stop to Piraeus)
Β2: Academia – Agios Kosmas (Evgenideio Stop, Syggrou Avenue northbound, Onasseio Stop southbound)
From the “Τzitzifies ” stop, walk towards the Navarhou Votsi street and then turn right at Peististratou street. At Peisistratou and Sahtouri street you will find the entrance of the SNFCC through its parking.
Line 10 from Chalandri Square to the Epaminonda stop. Walk towards Peisistratou and Sahtouri street and you will find the entrance of the SNFCC through its parking.
The following entrances are open for entering the SNFCC:
• Evripidou & Doiranis (entrance for the SNFCC Visitors Center)
• Evripidou & Irakleous
• Evripidou & Dimosthenous (entrance for the Running Track)
• Peisitratou & Sachtouri (entrance for the Parking of the SNFCC)
• Esplanade Pedestrian Bridge
Bicycle parking spaces are available at the entrance of the parking of the SNFCC (Peisistratou and Sahtouri Street) as well as the Visitors Center (Eyrypidou and Doiranis). The parking of bicycles in these areas is under the responsibility of the owner / holder for any damages arising (theft, damage, etc.)
Date and time:
15, 17 & 22 May 2019, 19:30 – evening performances.
12 & 19 May 2019, 18:30 – afternoon performances.
Photo by: the Greek National Opera