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The new GNO cycle of commissioned music theatre and operatic works based on famous feature films continues at the Alternative Stage with the new chamber opera Strella by Michalis Paraskakis. The libretto of the new work is based on Panos Koutras’ film of the same title (also known internationally as A Woman’s Way), which created a sensation during its 2009 cinema release.

The new opera deals with the meeting between Yorgos, a 48-year-old man newly released from prison, and Strella, a young trans prostitute who idolises Maria Callas, in a run-down Athenian hotel. However, as Yorgos’ accounts with the past are far from closed, another “prison” awaits him. Together with Strella, they must search for an exit.
The cinematic story of Strella, as told in the screenplay by Panos Koutras and Panagiotis Evangelidis, has all the marks of a realistic music drama, as it leans on Ancient Greek tragedy (with direct allusions to the Oedipus myth) in terms of operatic verismo. 13 years later, in an age when daring and truth are absolutely essential, the film’s characters remain timely and are dealt with not as caricatures, but as regular people who fall in love and experience pain.

Michalis Paraskakis’ challenge, as a composer in the so-called “new music” tradition, is to write music that is fresh and trenchant, in line with the film’s realism and dramatic qualities. In its operatic guise, Strella moves even further in the direction of magic realism, thanks to Alexandra K*’s libretto, which retains the fundamental structure and essence of the original screenplay.
The stage direction is by the 32-year-old George Koutlis, a sought-after and much-discussed director with a declared affinity for poetic, paradoxical realism and the grotesque.

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