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Music theatre

CAPODISTRIAS: MONODRAMA OF A SECRET LIFE

Calliope Tsoupaki

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SNF Lead Donor of GNO & Production Donor

Description

Calliope Tsoupakis’ original music theatre work Capodistrias: Monodrama of a Secret Life, which opened the current season of the GNO Alternative Stage at the SNFCC, is coming to your screens via GNO TV from 9 April to 31 July 2022. The production, conducted by Nicolas Vassiliou and directed by Themelis Glynatsis, which was created as part of the tribute to the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution, will be available for free at nationalopera.gr/GNOTV/en with Greek and English subtitles.

The unrequited love between the first governor of the modern Greek State, Ioannis Capodistrias, and Roxandra Sturdza, the lady-in-waiting of the Empress of Russia, serves as subject to the new monodrama by Calliope Tsoupaki, an important Greek-Dutch composer recently awarded the title of Composer Laureate (Componist des Vaderlands), the highest compositional distinction in the Netherlands.

Based on their extensive correspondence as well as on Sturdza’s memoirs, the composer renders their moving story in non-narrative terms and sensitively “stages” a compassionate immersion in the shared interiority of two people who lived separately – but are brought together retroactively on stage, thanks to the empathetic power of Tsoupaki’s music, full of sensuality and repressed passion.

In one of the most romantic episodes of the Greek struggle for independence, Capodistrias and Sturdza (the former a promising politician and diplomat, the latter an educated noblewoman, offspring of a rich Greek Moldavian family) met at the Russian imperial court in 1809 and shared a longstanding, deeply spiritual bond; nevertheless, their love was unconsummated due to their class difference and Capodistrias’ self-sacrificing commitment to the Greek cause. Their relationship blossomed around music: apart from their common political activism concerning the Philomuse Society of Vienna (a notable nexus of philhellenic activity at the time), Sturdza is reputed to have played the piano to Capodistrias during their more private moments…

Trailer

At a glance – Synopsis

Calliope Tsoupaki’s work Capodistrias, monodrama of a secret life is inspired by the unrequited love between Count Ioannis Capodistrias (first Governor of the Greek state, 1828–1831) and the Greek Roxandra Sturdza, first lady-in-waiting of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia. The work, based on fragments from their correspondence, attempts to musically “narrate” the secret, inner life of the Governor, his hardships, loneliness and melancholy amid his incessant activity as Foreign Minister of Tsar Alexander I. Their secret courtship began during Capodistrias’ stay in Russia (1809–1811) and developed by means of their correspondence during the following difficult years, Europe’s most turbulent era: the wake of the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna (1815), where Capodistrias faced the mighty Chancellor of Austria and enemy of all liberation movements, Prince Metternich, and undertook to unite fractured Switzerland and provide it with a constitution. Concurrently, he managed to avert the financial collapse and partitioning of defeated France. But around that time, just when the successful diplomat was about to ask Roxandra’s hand in marriage, the Empress’ pettiness and personal jealousy on account of the special favour Roxandra held with Tsar Alexander would force the maid into an ultimately failed marriage with Elizabeth’s cousin, Count Edling, in order to drive her away from the imperial court.

After its sad demise, Capodistrias’ and Sturdza’s secret romance would necessarily be limited to a warm friendship. Roxandra would watch closely Capodistrias’ ascent as Governor of Greece: his superhuman attempt to “reconstruct the big wreck”, Greece emerging from 400 years of Ottoman servitude, until his gruesome murder on 27 September 1831. A fateful day for her as well as for the whole of Hellenism…

Calliope Tsoupaki’s work takes off from the couple’s relationship to music, especially their contemporary Beethoven. By playing the piano to each other, they shared all they never got to share in reality…

Creative team – Cast

Conductor: Nicolas Vassiliou
Stage director: Themelis Glynatsis
Set & costume designer: Alexia Theodorakis
Video designers: Marios Gampierakis, Chrysoula Korovesi
Lighting designer: Stella Kaltsou
Research consultant: Mando Malamou

Ioannis Capodistrias Timos Sirlantzis
Roxandra Sturdza Marilena Germanou

Frank van den Brink basset horn
Giorgos Konstantinou piano
Dionisis Vervitsiotis violin I
Vanessa Athanasiou violin II
Jannis Athanasopoulos viola
Fabiola Ojeda cello
Marie Chasapi double bass

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