Παρασκευή, 9 Μαΐου 2014

The history of the opera Olympic Flame by Panagiotis Karousos




The Olympic Flame at the Montreal Notre-Dame Basilica
When the great pianist Claudette Denys, one of the greatest figures in Canadian opera accompanists, took hold of the score of the Olympic Flame from the creator Panagiotis Karousos, went to the piano to play the music. After a while she said, "Panagiotis this is a masterpiece, reminds Prometheus". The composer commissioned the production to her and Claudette began the preparations with enthusiasm. "We will present in Notre Dame Basilica, where there I had prepared Luciano Pavarotti for his Christmas concert ».
Bass Vasilis Asimakopoulos
Claudette Denys was an opera coach and pianist for the Opera de Montreal, and had accompanies great personalities of the opera throughout Canada, among them the partner of Maria Callas, tenor John Vickers, Greek origin contralto Tatiana Troyanos, famous bass Hans Hotter, baritone Louis Quilico, and soprano Virginia Zeani, among others. Also presented with piano and voices, at the National Canadian CBC, a TV program of operas, from Verdi's Traviata to Wagner’s Walkure. This great musician and a deep connoisseur of opera said: "The role of Deianira resembling Puccini's Butterfly, even more tragic, if we compare the suicide Deianeira’s aria is certainly more dramatic than Butterfly’s final aria».

The second part of Tetralogy "The Flame ", presented in 2005, with huge success at the Basilica Notre-Dame de Montreal, with the Symphony Orchestra Laval-Laurentides and conductor Andre Gauthier. Claudette Denys gave the role of Deianeira to dramatic soprano Nicole Lorange, well known from her collaboration with tenor Placido Domingo in big roles, but a family issue made difficult to the intensive rehearsals of Claudette and finally the role performed by soprano Natalie Petrarca. Hercules was the tenor Aldeo Jean, Macaria and Iole was the soprano Chantal Parent, baritone Yve Lortie interpreted the role of Prometheus, tenor Gaetan Sauvageau interpreted the role of Hyllus, bass Pierre Dufourd interpreted King Eurystheus, and mezzo-soprano Anne Julien the role of Alcmene. Claudette Denys oversaw everything, even she get on head of the choir, “Choeur du Tres Saint Redempteur”, and sang in the performance.
On the premiere, once finished the choir part, there was a standing ovation, mayor of Montreal Pierre Bourque called the author to come out ahead in the applause which was not posed in order to continue the Opera. More than 3,000 spectators were so impressed that featured comparable to the choral of the Nabucco of Verdi.
Grant Gilman and P. Karousos in New York
The success of the opera arrived in Greece, and the official Greek National Newspaper Eleftherotypia dedicating two extensive articles writes: «It is customary; the Greeks excel first abroad before accepting their motherland Greece. The opera Olympic Flame by Canadian composer of Greek origin Panagiotis Karousos presented at the monumental Cathedral of Montreal Notre Dame Basilica».
The success of the opera spread out worm news in the world of classical music in Montreal, and Claudette proposed an official production of the Flame or of Prometheus in the Opera of Montreal, which accepted with the term to cover a part of the production’s expenses the Greek Community or a part of Tickets. This proposal did not proceed to completion because it was hard to get a final decision the Greek associations boards, the majority of Greeks were not accustomed to this kind of music. Claudette then said: "If Panagiotis was a Jew now would be at the Metropolitan Opera of New York".
Claudette Denys, P. Karousos, A. Gauthier, P. Dufour, A. Jean
In 2007 Panagiotis Karousos presented the Olympic Flame in New York in English starring soloists from the opera of New York under the direction of maestro Grant Gilman and the Astoria Symphony Orchestra.
Deianeira was the soprano Mary Mackenzie, and Alcmene the remarkable American soprano Jessica Klein, which recently included in the soloists cast of Wagner 's Tetralogy in the Seattle opera.
In 2007 also the choral Olympic Flame was selected and presented at the Hague, Holland by the Symphony Orchestra and choir Gunst wat'n Kunst under the direction of Maestro Rafail Pylarinos. Highlights of The Flame where interpreted continuously at the municipal theaters of Montreal, Los Angeles, and New York. The soprano Chantal Parent interpreted the role of Deianeira at the Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal with Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de la Monteregie under the direction of maestro Luc Chaput.
V. Kalkani, V. Asimakopoulos
In Greece the opera was staged in the summer of 2013 at the Garden Theatre Festival Papagou and at the Theatre Festival of Aegina Island. Deianeira was the soprano Irene Konsta, Hercules was the tenor Dinos Kalivas, Macaria the soprano Helen - Bouki Agiomyrgianaki, and Alcmene the mezzo-soprano Katerina Economopoulou. Honorifically the composer interpreted the role of King Eurystheus as baritone.
In January 2014 the Hellenic Literary Society asks Karousos to present the Olympic Flame at the Old Parliament Building, National Historical Museum of Greece.
The director was Vasilis Asimakopoulos who also interpreted Hercules and Hyllus. Deianeira was the soprano Irene Konsta, the role of Alcmene sung by soprano Nancy Papakonstantinou, and the roles of Macaria and Iole by soprano Vanessa Kalkani.
Bass Vasilis Asimakopoulos worked the opera as a Greek Tragedy, and took a consideration the ancient play of Trachiniae by Sophocles, in which the composer based the libretto of the opera, the result was an ancient tragedy in the form of opera.
Old Parliament Building
Soprano Irene Konsta gave all the desperation and passion of Deianeira.
Vasilis Asimakopoulos created a shocking finale. Highlighted a conflict of the conscience with the will. Comes Yllos angry with his mother Deianeira, Macaria desperately trying to restrain her outraged brother, in front of the shocked Alcmene. The directorial work of Vasilis Asimakopoulos in that scene and the result of the performance of the artists was a highlight of the opera, perhaps even more touching of Deianeira 's suicide, because you see brother and sister into the vortex of life faced a family tragedy for which they are not responsible. Emerged psychological aspects of the opera unknown and undefined, as the question: May Deianeira was pushed to the suicide also by the enraged Hyllus or she have had preplanned?
Soprano Chantal Parent in Montreal as Deianira
The Olympic Flame involved a psychological drama between life and death, at the center of which lies the character of Hyllus like another Hamlet. The heroes die without knowing the real cause of their death, and questions remain on all of the characters. The solution of Sophocles is evident and given in the Tragedy, but the plot of the libretto cast a dark veil inscrutable fog throughout the project.
The opera, except the majestic chorus, adorn two beautiful arias of Deianeira and Hyllus.
The melodies are not as many as in Prometheus, but resulted in an ecstatic lyricism.
The characteristic pattern of The Flame refers to the ancient beauty “Kallos”.

The Olympic Flame by Panagiotis Karousos is the second part of the Greek Tetralogy "The Dawn of Civilization" (the series are Prometheus - Olympic Flame - Alexander the Great - The Light of Christianity).
The project is associated with the legend of Hercules and the foundation of the Olympic Games, depicting the greatness of human spirit and foresight of the Greeks. It is clearly proven and accepted that Western culture has adopted their development on the philosophical works of Greek antiquity, and we are all descendants of the civilization and culture of that era,
Classical Greece - Golden Age.
The second act of the project based on the tragedy "Trachiniae" by Sophocles.
On Trachiniae, the suffering and mortality of humankind represented by Deianira, which is expiated by his tragic death.
At the end of the opera, Prometheus comes after the sacrament of reconciliation with Zeus and lifts Hercules on Mount Olympus. It is the reconciliation of Humans with God in the times of demigods. The Olympic Flame is a presentation of an important project of Greek mythology and philosophy, which contributes to global culture.
Dr. Christina Tsardikos

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