Well, she was last seen at the Mihalis Kakoyiannis Cultural Center.
This was the Offenbach year with celebrations of the Master’s music all over the world. In Greece the Greek National Opera chose to ignore the fact focusing instead on an array of modern works, both in the Central Stage, as well as in the Experimental Stage.
It was therefore left to individual groups to celebrate the 200 years of his birth. The very talented young Director Panayiotis Adam put up a wonderful show of Offenbach’s most entertaining work “La Belle Helene”…and I mean “show” because he updated the period to the 60s and presented it like a theatrical review of the period.
As the audience entered the theater it was informed that they could freely take photos and video as along as they uploaded them to facebook and other social networks. What a brilliant idea, free advertising.
The Orchestra consisted of four players , a pianist ( Yiannis Tsanakaliotis), a flutist ( Maria Pahnisti), a cello (Keti Pantzari), and a violin (Avgoustinos Moustakas)., all of them extremely talented musicians who sounded like a full orchestra.
Mariza Papalexiou’s Helen, was a joy to behold. Rarely have I seen onstage such presence, sense of humour, and all these attributes were capped with a wonderful voice. She was undoubtedly the star of the show, after all she is an experienced singer having performed at the National Opera (Fledermaus, Suor Angelica, Madama Butterfly). She proved to be an accomplished actress as well as singer.
The rest of the cast consisted of the wonderful ringing voice of Pavlos Pantazopoulos in the role of Calchas, Anastasios Lazarou as Agamemnon, Yiannis Vrizakis as Menelaus, Stelios Keleris as Orestis, Konstantinos Zambounis as Achilles, Lela Hadjieleftheriou as Venus, and the wonderful Eros of Loukas Theodossopoulos, who was a joy to behold.
I left for last the talented tenor Yiannis Filias who was an outstanding Paris, especially when he was masqueraded as an Indian seer, with long hair, one of the funniest moments of the show. He sang the role of Paris with a wonderful voice displaying as well a comic talent which I didn’t know he possessed, although I have seen him also at the Theater as an actor.
However all credits must go to Panayiotis Adam who elevated the work, and gave it new breath and life. Rarely have I laughed so much at a performance as I did in this one. One never felt bored even for a second, since all the gags and comic situations were choreographed to perfection without going over the top. The scenery was minimal but the lighting of Christina Thanassoula was evocative, the minimal but so apt scenery and wonderful costumes of Valia Siropoulou ( I loved the idea of the Tshirts with the name of the character played , printed), as well as the 60s furniture, the successful musical adaptation of Epaminondas Vergioglou, without forgetting the excellent translation and text adaptation of Panayiotis Adam and Petros Hrissakis.
All in all it was a superb performance which left the audience in a happy mood, something that is very rare in our dark times in Greece. They all deserve a great applause and I hope that we will enjoy more performances in the future, even though it runs it’s 5th year in a row which goes to show how successful is this performance .
“La Belle Helene” by Offenbach at Michalis Kakoyiannis Foundation