Mikis Theodorakis: French and Greek Poets

At the end of the 50s, right in the “frontier zone” of transition between the “art” and “popular” sides of Mikis Theodorakis’ creative path and at the cusp of composing and recording the legendary Epitaphios song cycle, the Paris-based composer set to music a series of Paul Éluard’s poems for voice and piano, after the suggestion of the great operatic mezzo-soprano Jane Bathori. The new pieces’ career started promisingly enough, until they were prohibited by order of the poet’s descendants, not to resurface until the 80s.

These rare pieces, typical of the young Theodorakis’ immersion in French culture and prophetic of his later style, are introduced at the GNO Alternative Stage by the pre-eminent bass Christophoros Stamboglis, accompanied by the pianist Giorgos Konstantinou. The works are presented alongside later settings of Greek poets by Theodorakis himself, as well as a fascinating collection of settings of French poetry by three very different composers, all of them having passed part (or the whole) of their careers as émigrés in cosmopolitan, early- and mid-20th century Paris: namely Igor Stravinsky from Russia, Reynaldo Hahn from Venezuela and Kurt Weill from Germany.

Sunday 16/10/2022 at 19:30

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