TWILIGHT OF THE DEBTS
Kharálampos Goyós / Dimitris Dimopoulos / Alexandros Efklidis | After Richard Wagner’s TWILIGHT OF THE GODS
A lyrical hymn against Nazism, the masterly contemporary opera Weisse Rose (1986) by acclaimed German composer Udo Zimmermann, one of the most stunning works of the late 20th century, receives its Greek premiere by the Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera. The emblematic work, that established itself at the world’s most prestigious theatres, enthralling audiences and critics, is conducted by Nicolas Vassiliou and directed by Themelis Glynatsis.
Inspired by the resistance of 24-year-old Hans and 21-year-old Sophie Scholl, two siblings from Munich, who were the founding members of the anti-Nazi student group “Die weisse Rose”, Zimmermann composed a music work full of emotional power, unfolding right before the Scholls' execution for high treason. Historical re-enactment gives its place to a heart-wrenching, personal exploration of moral integrity, death and political responsibility.
Deeply moving and absolutely topical, Weisse Rose is an ode to the power of human will against fascism, and to the “inner resistance, a resistance that praises love, life and justice”, as the director characteristically notes.
Weisse Rose was directed by Themelis Glynatsis, one of the most prolific and restless Greek directors of his generation, actively involved in opera and music theatre staging. His rich résumé includes important productions, such as Winter Journey, based on Franz Schubert’s Romantic song cycle Winterreise (2015), Händel’s baroque masterpiece Alcina (2016) and 57 // a passion play in collaboration with Giorgos Koumendakis (2016).
The direction is a combination of deep innerness and violent outbursts in an environment that transforms from a cell into a space of memory and a field of resistance. “At the heart of the performance lies the solitude of the two characters, which does not help the audience decide whether they really coexist in the same vast space, or whether they communicate in another, more mystical way. Solitude, which imposes a second reality between memory and religious vision, leads to the need for redemption, and at the same time, to political aggression”, notes the director Themelis Glynatsis.
Hans Scholl is performed by distinguished tenor Christos Kechris, who –after his performance as “Cricket” in Minas Borboudakis’ opera Z– was called once again to tackle a role of high vocal and acting demands.
In the role of Sophie Scholl, the talented soprano Aphrodite Patoulidou, who has been carving out a brilliant international career, with important distinctions and appearances at major European theatres.
Filmed at the GNO Alternative Stage at the SNFCC on 17 November 2018. Greek and English subtitles available.
“We will not remain silent, we are your bad conscience, the White Rose will not leave you in peace…” These are the closing words of the fourth manifesto of the anti-Hitler student group named “The White Rose” (Die weisse Rose), formed at the University of Munich. This particular manifesto was the cause for the arrest of the group’s leaders, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. After a long interrogation by the Gestapo, the siblings were executed by guillotine on 22 February 1943.
This is the historical framework surrounding Udo Zimmermann’s opera Weisse Rose, whose first version was written in 1967. However, the composer reworked his material in 1986, when he was asked to revive it for the Hamburg State Opera. The composer discarded the original libretto penned by his brother, Ingo Zimmermann, and entrusted the libretto of the new version to Wolfgang Willaschek, presenting a totally new work in sixteen scenes. In the new version, the action is no longer linear, and the characters are limited to two, the Scholl siblings. This version had its premiere at the Hamburg State Opera on 27 February 1986 and is the one presented by the GNO Alternative Stage.
Weisse Rose doesn’t follow a linear narrative path; it focuses on the emotional charge of the two characters awaiting their execution. The two characters sometimes talk to themselves, other times they talk to each other, but the audience is never sure whether these dialogues are real or just figments of Hans and Sophie’s imagination. Under this light, the work is not clearly historical, but uses historical memory to treat subjects such as moral integrity, political complicity and religious faith.
The work’s basic material are the memories of its two characters, their feelings and thoughts about the crimes committed by the Nazis. The libretto is a mixture of poetic language and facts, masterly portraying both the special mental vibrations of Hans and Sophie, and the violence that drove them to oppose the Nazi regime.
Through a composition that balances between almost absolute silence and densely-written musical explosions, Zimmermann moulds a special musical work which simultaneously converses with Bach’s oratorios and the modernist tradition, explores Hans and Sophie’s anxiety but also their innate romanticism, and denounces political passivity, complicity, and the conscious silence of a whole people in the face of destruction.
Music Udo Zimmermann
Libretto Wolfgang Willaschek
Conductor Nicolas Vassiliou
Director Themelis Glynatsis
Set & costume designer Alexia Theodoraki
Lighting designer Stella Kaltsou
Video Marios Gambierakis, Chrysoula Korovesi
Hans Scholl Christos Kechris
Sophie Scholl Aphrodite Patoulidou
Andonis Gritsis (actor)
With the participation of Irini-Anastasia Vougiouka
Marilena Dori (flute)
Κostas Yiovanis (oboe)
Grammenos Chalkias (clarinet)
Μanos Ventouras (horn)
Spiros Arkoudis (trumpet)
Spyros Vergis (trombone I)
Ilias Vortelinas (trombone II)
Babis Taliadouros (percussion)
Stefanos Nasos (piano)
Thodoris Matoulas (harp)
Dionisis Vervitsiotis (violin I)
Franc Sestani (violin II)
Eleftheria Togia (viola)
Alexandros Botinis (cello)
Yiorgos Arnis (contrabass)
Video recording, TV director, editing Xenofon Vardaros
Greek translation Karolina Taktikou
English translation Themelis Glynatsis
Nicolas Vassiliou Conductor
Pianist, conductor and composer, born in Athens. He studied piano and music theory in Athens and New York, as well as conducting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) (Athens Academy scholarship). He taught music in schools; piano and choral conducting at the National Conservatory of Athens. Director of the Μanolis Kalomiris Children’s Chorus (1992-2000), he has collaborated, among others, with the Greek National Opera, Athens Festival, Athens Concert Hall. Since 1994, as a répétiteur, he has participated in the musical preparation of more than sixty GNO productions. He has been GNO Chorus master (2005-11), head of the GNO Opera Studio (2012-15) and conductor of the Contemporary Opera since 2010, with plenty of Greek premieres in his career. Music consultant of the Athens Festival (2017-18). He has conducted, among others, the GNO Orchestra, Athens State Orchestra, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra, Athens Municipality Symphony Orchestra.
Themelis Glynatsis Director
Born in Athens, he studied comparative literature, ancient theatre and theatre in the UK. He has directed works by H. Müller, S. Mallarmé, Sophocles, B. M. Koltès, among others. In 2014 he directed the work Y los peces salieron a combatir contra los hombres by A. Liddell (Athens Festival) and the opera Cendrillon by P. Viardot. In 2015, he directed Romanticism by H. Broch (Onassis Cultural Center) and Bérénice by Racine (Athens Festival). In the same year, he directed Schubert’s Winterreise (Art Theatre, Athens), and Salome by O. Wilde (Cyclades Street Theatre). In 2016, he directed G. F. Händel’s Alcina and G. Koumendakis’ 57 (Cyclades Street Theatre), while in 2017 he adapted and directed E.T.A. Hoffmann’s novella The Sandman (Skrow Theatre). Co-founder and head of theatre-artistic programming of the KNOT Gallery (2010-13).
Alexia Theodorakis Set & costume designer
Set and costume designer, she was born in Athens where she studied classical guitar at the Apollonio Conservatory, as well as design and art, next to artist G. Bournazakis. After completing her studies at the Institut Français d’Athènes translation department, she continued her studies in Venice, graduating from the sets-costumes department of the Fine Arts Academy. She has worked as a set and costume designer in theatre, opera, music theatre, cinema, in Greek and foreign productions. She has collaborated, among others, with Th. Gkonis, T. Rantzos, A. Efklidis, A. Karazisis, Th. Glynatsis, R. Gaitanou, M. Gyparaki, F. Baxevani, D. Sklavos, K. Flessas, T. Touliatos, D. Piatas, A. Papadatou, S. Livathinos, P. Voulgaris, G. Sakaridis, A. Sidiropoulou, K. Arvanitaki, E. Fezollari. Her collaborations also include the NTNG, Municipal and Regional Theatres of Kavala, Serres, Agrinio and Kozani, Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Thessaloniki Opera, GNO, Teatro Verdi (Trieste) and Rafi Music Theatre Company.
Stella Kaltsou Lighting designer
Born in Thessaloniki, she studied theatre lighting, sets and theatre theory at the Fine Arts sector of the AUTH Theatre department, graduating in 2009. She worked next to George Tellos as a lighting design assistant (2011-13). Collaborator of the Lighting Art and member of the Hellenic Film Academy. She has designed lighting for operas, dance performances and concerts at the Hong Kong Opera, Lisbon Opera, Handel Festival, Ópera de Oviedo, GNO, Onassis Cultural Center, Athens Concert Hall, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Festival of the Aegean (Syros). She has designed lighting for various productions at the National Theatre of Greece, Epidaurus Theatre, NTNG, Üsküdar Theatre, Greek Art Theatre, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Cyclades Street Theatre, Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, etc. She has collaborated with directors A. Bernard, R. Zanella, Y. Houvardas, N. Mastorakis, M. Calbari, K. Rigos, G. Petrou, P. Tiboris, Th. Glynatsis, etc. She has art directed three films (most recent D. Athanitis’ Invisible).
Marios Gambierakis, Chrysoula Korovesi Video
Marios Gambierakis and Chrysoula Korovesi run together the “Mavra gidia” (Black Goats) artistic office. Since 2014, they have been active in graphic arts, illustration, animation and digital picture. They have designed projections for children’s theatre staged at the Acropol Theatre, Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, Gloria Theatre, as well as for the plays Enter Sandman (dir. Themelis Glynatsis, Scrow Theatre, 2017), Arrival (dir. Io Voulgaraki, Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, Athens Festival 2017), and Fahrenheit 451 (dir. Th. Moschopoulos, Athens Festival 2018).
Aphrodite Patoulidou Sophie Scholl
Soprano, she was born in 1992 in Thessaloniki. She studied at the University of Macedonia, Greece, at the Flemish Royal Conservatory of Brussels, at the Berlin University of Arts, and spent a long time in Paris. She studies with Aris Argyris and is a member of Equilibrium Young Artists. She has performed in many European festivals and as an actress in short films. Among her roles are Elle (Poulenc’s La voix humaine), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Lucy (Menotti’s The Telephone), Goddess Aphrodite (world premiere of Abazis’ opera Hera), Single mother (Daigger’s MiniBar). She has interpreted symphonic works, has studied contemporary and traditional singing and plays the guitar and the piano. She is into poetry, composition and photography. Her first illustrated poetry collection under the title 17.5 almost 18 received the 1st Pan-Hellenic poetry prize. She likes snow and comics. Not necessarily combined.
Christos Kechris Hans Scholl
Greek tenor, he has been collaborating with the GNO since 2008. He studied classical guitar under I. Kolanian and he is a graduate of the Faculty of Theatre Studies (University of Athens). He has interpreted, among others, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Tamino/Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte), Polidoro (La finta semplice), Conte Eugenio (L’amante di tutte), Beppe (Pagliacci), Goro (Madama Butterfly), Remendado (Carmen), Verdelis (Pic-nic), Janek (Věc Makropulos), Tanzmeister (Ariadne auf Naxos), Cricket (Z), Orestes (Oresteia). He has also interpreted oratorios by Lully, Charpentier, Goldberg, Händel, Haydn and Mozart. As a soloist he collaborated with orchestras and theatres in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, France, Croatia. He has worked with the Athens Symphony Orchestra, Armonia Atenea, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra, Latinitas Nostra, Athens Municipality Symphony Orchestra, National Theatre of Greece, The Beggars' Operas, Athens Festival, Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Halls, Onassis Cultural Center, Greek Composers Union, etc.
Antonis Gritsis Actor
He studied classical philology in Crete and acting at the Art Theatre, Athens. He has collaborated with M. Calbari, Ath. Karayannopoulou, Ap. Papadamaki, D. Degaitis, V. Myrianthopoulos, D. Fragkioglou, D. Adamis, K. Spanou, A. Brouskou, G. Angelopoulos, D. Vergados, E. Georgopoulou, V. Noulas, D. Giannoulatou, Th. Glynatsis, Il. Ellinikioti, G. Skourletis. He has performed in short films and in television series. He attended Takis Sinopoulos’ Poetry Workshop, he tutors high school students in philology, he has worked at the Metropolis bookstore and has written articles in literature magazines. For the production My Neighbour Napoleon Lapathiotis he received the Queer Theatre Award in acting (2017). His last appearance was in the work Bolivar, based on the poem of the same name by Nikos Engonopoulos, presented at the Neos Kosmos Theatre.
*As published during the 2018/19 season.