On Tuesday, July 5, 2016 the Athens Square in Astoria, New York was filled with people who came to see the Greek opera "Olympic Flame" by internationally acclaimed Greek-Canadian composer Panagiotis Karousos. The Athens Square lived one of the most touching moments of the Greek Community in New York. They participated exceptional American artists of opera with amazing stage appearances and high quality voices.
Great dramatic tenor Demetrios Tsinopoulos interpreted the role of Hercules, the magnificent dramatic soprano Elisabeth Shoup the tragic role of Deianira, one of American biggest dramatic mezzo voices Ola Rafalo interpreted the role of Alcmene, the fine bass Kofi Hayford the roles of Eurystheus, Hyllus and Prometheus, the lovely Greek-American soprano Stella Papatheodorou interpreted the roles of Iole and Macaria and strong mezzo-soprano Viktoriya Koreneva the role of High Priestess. The artists accompanied by pianist Tor Morten Kjøsnes.
In this production composer added to the opera a new duet King Hurystheus and High Priestess, especially for Viktoriya Koreneva and Kofi Hayford, in order to create a rare duet for bass and mezzo. The duet was well performed and especially received by the crowd.
Stage director Eli Markos did a wonderful work with singers and Despina Chrissochos interpreted the role of narrator Oracle.
Representative of UNESCO Angelika Sandora, gave Certificates of Honor to all artists and organizers on behalf of Ioannis Maronitis, president of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Board of the World Federation of Associations and Club Centres for UNESCO (UNESCO / WFUCA), responsible for Europe and North America.
The majestic presentation of the opera followed the UNESCO ceremony included President Ioannis Maronnitis message and dedication of the performance to the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, and to proclamation by UNESCO of the year 2016 as “Aristotle Anniversary Year”.
General organizer Billy Chrissochos, Director of Modern Music of the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands NY Chapter, did an excellent work.
Mr. Billy Chrissochos among with George Delis, President of the Athens Square Park, and Panos Adamopoulos, Program Director in Greek nights at the Summer Timetable Athens Square, Greek Nights Summer 2016, dedicated the opera performance to the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Summer Olympic Games 2016.
Despina Chrissochos welcomed the public introducing the work: “Modern masterpiece opera "Olympic Flame" by Panagiotis Karousos, made his triumphant debut at Lincoln Center last April. Now presented in the United States for a stage production at the Summer Festival of Astoria on the occasion of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro”.
UNESCO NY director Billy Chrissochos addressed to the public: “The Olympic Flame by Panagiotis Karousos is an opera in two acts related to the myth of Hercules and the establishment of the Olympic Games, tonight the opera will be performed with costumes and stage directing, as a preparation for our next presentation in a full production in opera theater with orchestra and our conductor Jestin Pieper”.
The newspaper "National Herald" of New York devoted a full page with photos and video from the historical presentation of a first Greek opera in Astoria Festival.