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Greek National Opera to Present World Premiere of ANDREI by Dimitra Trypani Honoring Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei will premiere in Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens on Sunday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m.

By: Sep. 02, 2022
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Greek National Opera to Present World Premiere of ANDREI by Dimitra Trypani Honoring Andrei Tarkovsky  Image

The Greek National Opera's 2022-23 season curated by Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis will open with a newly commissioned opera, Andrei, by Greek composer Dimitra Trypani. Trypani describes the work as a "sound performance" and "sonic storytelling," unfolding over eight scenes to create a contemporary funeral liturgy for the celebrated Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986). The libretto, written by the distinguished Greek poet and journalist Pantelis Boukalas, uses the German text of the Lutheran Requiem Mass in dialogue with fragments drawn from Tarkovsky's seven feature films. Andrei will premiere in Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens on Sunday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. with two subsequent performances on Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now from the GNO Box Office and online via The 2022-23 season, which runs from September 2022 through July 2023, is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [] to enhance the GNO's artistic outreach.

Commissioned by the GNO, Andrei is presented in eight parts: an introductory scene followed by another seven corresponding to the seven sections of the German Requiem Mass text, and to Tarkovsky's seven feature films. Eighteen actors, dancers, and musicians perform as various versions of Tarkovsky, as well as non-fictional people and key characters from his films. Trypani notes, "The entire work is a Tarkovskian dream, since the real and unreal are interwoven through the music of the requiem that inundates the space."

Trypani first encountered Tarkovsky's films around fifteen years ago while studying composition in Edinburgh, when a friend encouraged her to watch his 1972 film Solaris. She recalls,

"It was like an explosion for me for various reasons. Firstly, it answered questions that were vital to me; questions on our species, on who we are as humans, on civilization, and also on love and faith-not faith in terms of religion, but spirituality and the ways that humans seek ways to fulfill hope. I was struck by how poetically his films pose these questions but also by the fact that they give you an answer.

"Secondly, music and sound is my main area of experience and the way Tarkovsky uses sound in his films was almost shocking to me. It is almost as if it is another character, another actor in his films. The way he uses rain, water, and other elements like the air to conjure up images and feelings-you almost don't need anything else. I actually use his films as examples when I teach composition. Cinema is such a precise art and his films are very rhythmic. A montage in a Tarkovsky film is like a score. It has been interesting for me to explore and investigate his rhythmic sequences scene by scene."

Trypani says the result is that Andrei is a performance reliant on sound rather than imagery or movement. Sound serves as the overarching narrative mode, with major "roles" played by vocal chromatic heterophonic and polyphonic structures, and polystylistic approaches combined with body percussion. Trypani will conduct the work, which features a nine-piece music ensemble.

In addition to Trypani and Boukalas, the creative team includes Elena Stavropoulou (sets), Nikos Kokkalis (costumes), Ermira Goro (choreography), Valentina Tamiolaki (lighting), and Konstantinos Bokos (sound design). The eighteen performers are: Iro Bezou, Irini Bilini-Moraiti, Valia Karagiorga, Giorgos Kasavetis, Marianna Kavallieratos, Dimitra Kokkinopoulou, Nandia Kontogeorgi, Hara Kotsali, Christina Maxouri, Giorgos Nikopoulos, Alexandros Psihramis, Kalliopi Simou, Fotis Siotas, Aliki Siousti, Christos Thanos, Savina Yannatou, Fanis Zachopoulos, and Nikos Ziaziaris.

Based in Athens, Trypani is engaged in the creation of interdisciplinary music performances, using strictly structured polyrhythmic forms and heterophonic patterns in her approach to composing both music and speech. She has worked with numerous renowned orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, both in Greece and beyond. She is an associate professor in Music Theory and Composition with Interdisciplinary Practices at the Ionian University's Department of Music. She has previously composed works for the GNO's Alternative Stage and Learning and Participation programs, including a performance of THE TALISMAAAAAAAAAAAAN, the culmination of a nine-month educational program engaging around 200 elementary school children from thirteen schools. Andrei is her first commission for the opera's main stage, Stavros Niarchos Hall, and the GNO's first work commissioned from a female composer for this space.

GNO Artistic Director, Giorgos Koumendakis, said, "In the wake of some 90 works commissioned in recent years from Greek composers for our two stages, and for our online festivals, this year sees yet another original production staged inside the Stavros Niarchos Hall: Andrei, an ambitious new work by Dimitra Trypani, with a libretto by Pantelis Boukalas, about the singular filmmaker that was Andrei Tarkovsky."

Composer's Note by Dimitra Trypani

Andrei is a singular, person-specific requiem for the great filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky but, beyond this, it is also a requiem for any artist desperately seeking 'sacred' silence-an inner peace-amid the tumult inside their soul.
For a number of years now, I have used sound, both textual and musical, to share certain thoughts I have about fundamental human concerns. The way in which I work is most specific. My practice is characterized by the incorporation of texts I am employing into an orchestrated matrix of strict form; this allows for the creation of a musical flow that includes a poetic style of narration, and for the two art forms to enter into seamless discourse. That is, it allows sound in its entirety-springing from the libretto and the music-to run out towards the spectator or listener like a rushing sonic river. Co-existent within this Andrei sonic river are a libretto by Pantelis Boukalas and the German text of the Lutheran Requiem Mass, as well as scattered fragments of scenes drawn from the seven films made by Tarkovsky.

Parts of the text are approached metrically, strictly articulated in accordance with their form, and utterly collective as a kind of choral voicing, be it polyrhythmic or asymmetric-almost like a strange, alternative form of hip hop, and often accompanied by body percussion. Other parts have been set to music as classic, unalloyed polyphonic choral sections, and there are parts freely spoken as prose that slices through the silence, breaking the strict metrical form that otherwise permeates the work.
On stage are eighteen Tarkovsky variants that closely parallel the lead characters-both male and female-that appear in his films, or else evoke a fragmented creative mind that gradually gathers and unifies into compound thought as the performance progresses. The words vocalized by the production's eighteen exceptional performers-speech that is poetic, cinematic, musical, and overarchingly devotional - are personally uttered by each individual, or else 'chorally' expressed by everyone together.
Andrei is neither concert nor opera nor work of theater. It is a ceremonial 'sound performance'-one you can choose to experience with your eyes open or closed.

Librettist's Note by Pantelis Boukalas

I first worked with Dimitra Trypani back in 2019, when she commissioned me to write the poetic reworking of a tragic tale that came to pass in a village on the Mani peninsula in the mid-19th century. This collaboration gave rise to both a music performance, Amiliti (The Silent One), co-produced by the Paxos Music Festival and the Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera, and a book of mine, My Silent Miliá: One Logos in Six Voices (Athens: Agra Publications) [Miliá is a woman's name. In Greek, it sounds both like the word for 'apple tree' and the word for 'speech' or 'voice'.]
In 2021-caught in the midst of a dispiriting pandemic that called into question all we held certain, our hard-fought achievements, prevailing way of life, and very values, while also revealing that humankind was incapable or unwilling to contemplate and act upon this situation in ways universal-Dimitra proposed we rework the story of one of the 20th century's most contemplative directors: Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, an artist capable of rendering thoughts and feelings with images of unparalleled beauty and intellectual vigor.

Our partnership once more gave rise to dual results, though-again-not a unified, indivisible pair of works: the sound performance Andrei (commissioned by the Greek National Opera) and my book Christ in the Snow: Seven Nights in the World of Andrei Tarkovsky.
In my attempt to access the dense world surrounding Tarkovsky, I re-watched his seven films many times over, read his books-diaries detailing his tortured life, and his intellectual concerns and inquiries-and consulted every tome tackling his work to have been published in Greek. I also found it necessary, and rewarding, to read the poems of his father, Arseny Tarkovsky, in Greek translation, a man whose presence is distinctly tangible in the films of his son.

The seven chapters of my meditation overarchingly recount the seven films of Tarkovsky-as seen from an off-kilter poetic perspective that does not equate to a strict biographical approach-and trace the fruits of his powerful artistic sensibilities from Ivan's Childhood (1962) right through to The Sacrifice (1986). In the work of Tarkovsky, as is the case with many of Russia's great intellectual artists (foremost among them, his beloved Fyodor Dostoevsky), a consideration of human life cannot be conceived without butting up against the phenomena of religion and theology. This demanded a sporadically biblical tone for Andrei, and the embedding of biblical chorales.

And yet the theological aspects of Tarkovsky-as I have interpreted and reworked them here-concern not the life to come, not the hereafter, but rather the here and now of human existence: one damaged ever deeper by the fact that a great deal more pain must be endured before the universal acceptance of the 'dogma' that says human existence loses its meaning and is left an empty shell in the absence of ethics and spirituality. Which is to say, precisely what Andrei Tarkovsky hated and fought so hard against.

Performance Details:

A Requiem in Eight Scenes
Dimitra Trypani
September 25, 27, 28, 2022
Starts at: 7:30 p.m. (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)
Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera - SNFCC
Concept, composition, music instruction, director, conductor: Dimitra Trypani
Original libretto: Pantelis Boukalas
Sets: Elena Stavropoulou • Costumes: Nikos Kokkalis • Choreography: Ermira Goro • Lighting: Valentina Tamiolaki • Sound design: Konstantinos Bokos
With (in alphabetical order): Iro Bezou, Irini Bilini-Moraiti, Valia Karagiorga, Giorgos Kasavetis, Marianna Kavallieratos, Dimitra Kokkinopoulou, Nandia Kontogeorgi, Hara Kotsali, Christina Maxouri, Giorgos Nikopoulos, Alexandros Psihramis, Kalliopi Simou, Fotis Siotas, Aliki Siousti, Christos Thanos, Savina Yannatou, Fanis Zachopoulos, and Nikos Ziaziaris.
With the participation of a nine-piece music ensemble

Tickets are available now from the GNO Box Office and online via
Ticket prices: €8, €12, €15, €20, €30, €35, €50
Students, children: €8
Limited visibility seats: €5

Lead Donor of the GNO
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)


Founded in 1939, the Greek National Opera is a public body and the sole opera house in Greece. It produces and stages operas, musical theater, operettas, and ballets, and multi-disciplinary productions for its two stages at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Alternative Stage, as well as at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an open-air theater in the center of Athens. The company's repertory covers four centuries of lyrical theater, from the works of Claudio Monteverdi to those of contemporary composers. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera were both founded in 1939 alongside the opera company, then a part of the Royal Theatre, and a Children's Chorus was founded in 2012. In addition to its opera programming, the GNO also encompasses the GNO Professional School of Dance, as well as education and community programs aimed at all age groups.

The GNO's vision is to be one of Europe's most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talent and inspires large and diverse audiences. Led by artistic director Giorgos Koumendakis and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [], its mission is to offer audiences high caliber productions by presenting operas, ballets, operettas, operas for children, and music recitals, among other events. The GNO's main source of funding is the Greek State and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Over 60% of its annual budget is covered by state funding, with the rest coming from ticket proceeds, private sponsorship, and grants. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is the Greek National Opera's biggest donor and to date, its grants to the GNO amount to €27.5 million.

A turning point in its history came in 2017 when the GNO relocated to a new state-of-the-art building at the architecturally striking Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which was conceived, designed, constructed, and equipped with a substantial grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Following completion, the SNFCC was delivered to the Greek state and the public in February 2017 through the SNF's largest grant initiative to date, totalling €618 million. Assisted by a €5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the GNO relocated from Athens' Olympia Theatre to the SFNCC and the two, purpose-built theaters designed by Renzo Piano, doubling its audience capacity to 1,400 seats in the opera hall and also doubling its ticket revenues.

The hall's inaugural production in October 2017 was Strauss' Elektra, starring the celebrated Greek mezzo Agnes Baltsa as Klytaemnestra. In 2019 a major grant of €20 million was announced by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to support the implementation of a four-year programming and development plan that will enhance the artistic outreach of the GNO and increase the promotion of its work overseas. The same year the GNO celebrated its 80th anniversary, commissioning and presenting works to reintroduce itself to the Greek and global audience through its new artistic identity and mission. This programming has included, among others: Verdi's Don Carlo, a co-production of the Royal Opera House, London, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Norwegian National Opera ,Oslo, directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner; Berg's Wozzeck directed by Olivier Py; Marina Abramović's 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a co-production with Opéra national de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro di San Carlo; and Verdi's Otello, a co-production with Festspiel Baden-Baden directed by Robert Wilson.

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