Music theatre for young audiences


George Dousis / Eugene Trivizas


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The Magic Pillows, a hugely successful opera production for all the family, is transferring to the small screen to reach children, and adults too, on their phones and tablets, their computers and television sets, premiering on GNO TV on 5 December. This well-known work by Eugene Trivizas –which met with great success both as a novel (translated into many other languages, and the winner of numerous awards) and as a theatre play– was adapted by the author himself to debut as an opera for all the family, set to music by George Dousis, and breathing life into the dreams of young and old alike. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

This hopeful, moving, and meaningful fairy tale by Eugene Trivizas tells the story of a band of children at an unloved school and their inspiring teacher, who together take a stand against the greedy King Glorious the Omnificent, quite determined to reclaim their lost dreams. The author had this to say about the work: “I hope everyone who sees the Magic Pillows takes to heart the words spoken by the teacher in that freezing classroom, inside that run-down school: ‘No matter what they take from you / there always still will be / something they can never touch / something yours to keep! / In times of woe and sorrow / your dreams shall ever be / a pot of gold, a hope to hold / your place of sanctuary!’”

The emotionally rich and melodious music of George Dousis winningly winds its way around breath-taking palace halls, neglected classrooms, and gloomy emerald mines, breathing life into this spirited band of characters. The composer notes: “It was such a pleasure, wandering the palace gardens and quaint alleyways of this fantastical world – of Ouranoupolis. A place at once exotic and quite real. The Magic Pillows is a work that’s ever relevant. The plot structure and words offered up by Eugene Trivizas guided me –with a sense of absolute safety– through a compositional process that proved almost entirely instinctual.”

The fast-paced, funny, and emotion-filled staging by Natasha Triantafylli goes straight to the poetic heart of this redemptive and limitlessly rich classic tale.

Recorded in the GNO Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on 18 and 19 December 2021. Subtitles are available in Greek and English.


At a glance – Synopsis

In a mythical land far, far away, the greedy ruler –King Glorious the Omnificent– decides to boost production in his realm’s emerald mines by banning birthday parties, Carnival season, summer holidays, make that all holidays, and even Sundays, which he decrees are now to be called Pre-Mondays – days in fact no different from Mondays, not in the slightest. And not only that: he also bans funfairs and playgrounds, and in their place builds prisons in which to lock up anyone who dares blow out candles on their birthday, or anyone who dresses up as a Pierrot for Mardi Gras, or anyone who doesn’t turn up for school on a Pre-Monday. The weary people of this land, forced to toil ever harder down the emerald mines and in the barbed wire factories, finally protest against their fate.

At first, King Glorious the Omnificent just cannot understand what might be causing this public discontent, until that is a shrewd courtier explains it’s clearly because of their dreams: they dream they can fly, when in reality they’re scrabbling around. That’s why they’re not satisfied! And besides, dreams are a threat to the regime. The teeniest of dreams, mere trifles –slight, fleeting, miniscule– can flare up at times, flare up like fire to flip the world upside down. His advice: “Only if you take away their dreams will they find peace, your Eminence.” And so, King Glorious the Omnificent –with the help of his dastardly chief sorcerer Reptilious Serpentilious, and the supreme commander of the royal guard Baron Bulimian Lustblast– tricks them all, forcing the people of this land to sleep on pillows that bring them terrible nightmares.
This heinous plot seems to have the intended result: the protests stop. Meanwhile, the mining of emeralds and the making of barbed wire – everything skyrockets. King Glorious the Omnificent and his courtiers are elated.

But what they don’t yet know is that somewhere far, far away from the palace, in an unassuming school, the resistance is in fact just beginning. A band of children and their inspiring teacher are quite determined to reclaim their lost dreams, snatching them from the jaws of mortal danger.

Creative team – Cast

Music George Dousis
Libretto Eugene Trivizas
Conductor Nicolas Vassiliou
Director Natasha Triantafylli
Sets Tina Tzoka
Costumes Ioanna Tsami
Movement coach Dimitra Mitropoulou
Lighting designer Giorgos Tellos
Children’s Chorus Mistress Konstantina Pitsiakou

Christofer the Teacher Nicolas Maraziotis
King Glorious the Omnificient Nikos Kotenidis
Sir Syrup Superlick (Honorary Royal Groveler) Dionisios Melogiannidis
Baron Bulimian Lustblast (Supreme Commander of the Imperial Guard) Vangelis Maniatis
Reptilious Serpentilious (Chief Palace Sorcerer) George Mattheakakis
Erebus (Guardsman) Kostis Rassidakis
Ugur (Guardsman) Yannis Kavouras
Dorela Angeliki Tamvakopoulou
Carleto Marios-Gregory Paschalis
Mateo Markos Levogiannis

Vocal ensemble:
Olga Balomenou, Varvara Biza, Efi Papadopoulou, Anna Smerou, Dimosthenis Vlachos, Konstantinos Zabounis, Andreas Karaoulis, Stamatis Pakakis, Vassilis Dimakopoulos, Georgios Papadimitriou, Marinos Tarnanas

With a small instrumental ensemble and the GNO Children’s Chorus in the scope of its educational mission

Director's note

“The Magic Pillows is a story that shows us anew what stuff we are made of – courage and high spirits and zest for life. Stuff that stows itself, secret and eternal, deep inside us and can never be wiped out by the injustices of the world. Stuff that makes you gaze up at the sky and realise you are great, no matter how small! Such stuff as dreams are made on!”

Natasha Triantafylli

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