Feature: Greek National Opera pays tribute to Maria Callas with musical stroll across Athens


by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Sept.15 – – Greece’s National Opera (GNO) paid tribute to great Greek soprano Maria Callas on Sunday on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of her death with an unprecedented musical stroll across the city centre of Athens.
La Divina (The Divine) as Callas was being hailed, one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century, died in Paris on September 16 in 1977. However, her legacy lives on.
Thousands of Greeks and foreign visitors followed step by step on Sunday evening and gave a warm applause to a dozen Greek artists who participated in the musical event which was divided into five acts.
Starting from the courtyard of the Acropolis Museum and ending in front of the National Archaeological Museum, fans of music and Callas walked from one spot to another around the city where the Divina grew up, to enjoy free open air performances of famous operas.
GNO orchestra musicians and sopranos interpreted extracts from arias which have become associated with some of Callas’ most outstanding performances, from classic operas such as Georges Bizet’s “Carmen”, Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco” and “La Traviata” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and “Tosca”.
“It is an honor for us to take part in such an event. I believe that the idea of staging concerts and operas out in the streets is very interesting for Athenians and tourists likewise,” soprano Irini Karaianni told Xinhua after her performance at the foot of the Acropolis hill, calling on passer bys to join in and experience opera and Athens in a new light.
“I would like to add how excited we are to honor today the memory of this unique artist who left her mark worldwide,” soloist Maria Mitsopoulou said.
“I hope that similar concerts be organized in coming years. I wish that this tribute becomes a sort of institution of international interest to show to the world that Greece honors her memory in a special and original way with the participation of Greek sopranos who are also working in Greece and abroad,” Mitsopoulou added.
“She left a mark with her unique performances in roles of opera characters. No other artist achieved anything like this with such precise and interesting interpretations,” Karaianni concluded.
Watching Karaianni and Mitsopoulou performing in front of the Acropolis museum before moving on to the steps of the Herod Atticus Theatre nearby for the next act, Aggelos Silmanakis, a Nursing School student who also studies opera, also spoke to Xinhua about Callas’ legacy, the blessing and the “burden” on the shoulders of Greek opera singers today.
“Maria Callas was a great artist. Her legacy is enormous. Opera’s history is divided into the pro-Callas and post- Callas period. She left a major mark to music, to opera…I am very emotional these days. Each year I pay tribute to her memory,” he said.
What is the message such tributes send to the world? For Silmanakis it is loud and clear, as Callas’ voice.
“Art always survives. Like in Puccini’s “La boheme” heroes are very poor, but are fighting for Art, for music, for life and for love. Music unites mankind,” he said.[db:内容2]