Mezzo-soprano Margarita Syngeniotou performs Dimitris Dragatakis’ Monologue, while baritone Tassis Christoyannis performs Michael Adamis’ work A Woman Clothed with the Sun and Argyris Kounadis’ Five Songs on Constantine Cavafy's Poems, at the auditorium and the roof of the French Institute of Athens.
The 2nd Online festival titled “Counterpoints”, curated by Giorgos Koumendakis, shed light upon the relationship between Greek art music and architecture. The festival’s videos were presented from 27 September to 31 October 2020. The festival was made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
At a glance – Synopsis
All members of the same generation, Dimitris Dragatakis (1914-2001), Argyris Kounadis (1924-2011) and Michael Adamis (1929-2013), were three of the most important representatives of Greek musical modernism.
Dragatakis, a member of the Greek National Orchestra for many years, preserves through a modern writing his connection with Greek elements such as the songs of Epirus and the origins of ancient drama, rejecting any sense of folklore. His work Monologue No. 1 for voice was composed in 1979, followed by works of the same title for cello (2000), violin (2001) and piano (2001). In Monologue No. 1 the surrealistic text of the composer himself shifts between prose and poetry.
Born in Constantinople, Kounadis studied in Athens and then in Freiburg, Germany, where he delved particularly in the twelve-tone, serial and aleatoric music. He was very much involved in vocal music – he composed operas and set poetry to music. Cavafy’s five poems were set to music in 1961.
After his studies in Athens, Adamis studied electronic music but also Byzantine music palaeography in Boston. His work A Woman Clothed with the Sun, originally written for a mezzo-soprano, piano and, optionally, gong was completed in 1998, and was followed by a version for an eight-voice mixed chorus in 2005.
The new building of the French Institute of Athens was built in the years 1973-1976 and it was designed by architect Sthenis Molfesis, graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. It is one of the most remarkable manifestations of the international Brutalist code. The three-floor building is significantly differentiated from the old French Institute but also from its structured environment. It has a ground floor, two floors above it and a recessed floor. The ground floor houses an auditorium with a capacity of 400 seats.
Creative team – Cast
Soloists Margarita Syngeniotou mezzo-soprano, Tassis Christoyannis baritone
Conductor, piano Nicolas Vassiliou
Members of the Greek National Opera Orchestra
Violin, Concertmaster Harris Hadjigeorgiou
Cello, Principal I Nikolas Kavakos
Flute, Principal I Nikos Nikopoulos
Oboe, Principal I Dimitris Safarian
Percussion, Principal II Kostas Theodorakos