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The Debut of the Epidaurus Festival 2017

This year’s Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the most significant one in Europe, as ancient Drama is concerned, began on Friday, June 30th, with the play “Seven Against Thebes” by Aeschylus, directed by Cezaris Graužinis and organized by the State Theatre of Northern Greece. It is played at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, a venue noted as the most beautiful ones worldwide.

Sixty Two Years of History
Since its inception in 1955, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the foremost public cultural institution in Greece, has hosted numerous major Greek as well as world-famous performing artists. Almost twenty years prior to the launch of the Festival (1938), a production of Sophocles’ Electra, directed by Rontiris, became the first modern performance to be held at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. The official launching of the Epidaurus Festival coincided with the debut of the Athens Festival in 1955. Epidaurus was quickly reimagined as a terrain of major artists putting forth their best endeavours. It should be noted, though, that for the next twenty years, only the National Theatre of Greece would be allowed to stage productions at the Ancient Theatre. Notably, even though most major music productions have been held at the Odeon, the world-famous soprano Maria Callas performed Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma (1960) and Luigi Cherubini’s Médée (1961) at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in 1960 and 1961 respectively. Following 1974, the Epidaurus Festival opened its doors to the Greek Art Theatre, the arch-rival of the National Theatre of Greece. Over time, all major theatre companies found their way into Epidaurus, including municipal and regional theatre organizations, such as the Municipal and Regional Theatre of Larissa.
As the 21st century began, the Epidaurus programme opened up to international artists and famous creators who presented early and late modern works in the Ancient Theatre, ranging from Shakespeare to Beckett.

This Year’s Programme
The Epidaurus Festival 2017 will host “Oedipus at Colonus” by Sophocles (July 7-8), “Bacchae” by Euripides (14-15 July, co-production: Athens & Epidaurus Festival – Municipal and Regional Theatre of Larissa), “Peace” by Aristophanes (21-22 July), “Alcestis” by Euripides (28-29 July), “Medea” by Euripides (4-5 August) and “The Persians” by Aeschylus.
On the 19th of August the Epidaurus Festival pays tribute to the music and dances of the Peloponnese with its closing celebration titled “Dances of the Peloponnese”.
It is to be noted that all plays will have english subtitles. Creative activities for children of ages 4-12 will be offered while parents attend the theatre.
A series of theatrical events complementary to the Epidaurus programme will be to be held at the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus. The Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, mostly hosts experimental theatrical performances and other cultural events. You’ll get the chance to enjoy “The Arrival / Βased on the section The Killing of the Suitors from Homer’s Odyssey” (7-8 July, directed by Io Voulgaraki), “Cyclops” by Euripides (21-22 July, directed by Pantelis Dentakis) and “Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants” by Aeschylus (4-5 August, directed by the french poet/ actor Olivier Py), which made its debut at Avignon's Festival in Summer 2016.
Finally, “The Bacchae: A Liturgy” directed by Martha Frintzila will be played on the 18th of July at the Ancient Stadium of Epidaurus. It is a musical and even therapeutic event, fusing rock music with African beats and Arabic maqam.
For the complete program of events at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus see here, for the Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus here and for the Ancient Stadium of Epidaurus here.

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