Photos by Marilyn Hirsch-Wyler
Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera, Anna and Vladimir:The love that ROCKED the world, thrilled audiences with a historical and cultural journey into Greece's past at Flushing Town Hall "Where the Silk Road ends, a romance begins.” The Rock Opera was hosted by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and audiences got to experience for the first time in one of Queens’ most revered landmark theaters three shows; one on Friday June 2nd and two on Saturday June 3rd.
First came Anthony and Cleopatra then, there was the drama-drenched Byzantine duo Anna and Vladimir. "Porphyra" is the rock opera that captures all the history, grandeur and power struggles behind their love story. Set in the year 988AD, the production chronicles the world-rocking marriage of Princess Anna Porphyrogenita of Greece to Grand Prince Vladimir the Great of the medieval Kievan Rus. Their tale of love, war and peace is brought to life through hard rock, melodic metal, and Greek folk music, all churned out by a rock orchestra. Based on the epic albums "Faith, Struggle, Victory" and "The Starmaker's Prophecy" (due to come out this summer), the performance weaves together theater, dance and visuals.
The Director, Production/Stage Manager, Costume stylist, Prop Master and Narrator was Despina Chrissochos (married to Billy Chrissochos), who masterfully helmed the production while seven months pregnant with the couple’s second baby.
The protagonists were four of NYC’s most versatile and powerful Hard Rock/Heavy Metal vocalists; the charismatic and powerhouse vocalist Elaine Tuttle who portrayed the role of Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, the delightful Tommy Von Voigt who slayed as Prince Vladimir, the majestic vocal stylings of Ron Iglesias as Emperor Basil II, and the heavenly vocals of Christina Stavrou as Princess Olga. “Rock of Ages” has nothing on this group. And to boot it’s all original music!
|Photo by Shirley Huang|
The band was composed of Billy Chrissochos on guitar, Mike “Risko” Savvas on guitar and tzoura (the smaller cousin of the bouzouki instrument), who enthralled the audiences with his unique instrument, Jose A. Navia on bass, Richard Khuzami on percussion and what is a tour de force on drums, Mr. Tracey “Tre Boogie” Beavers, holding the entire ship together. The production was graced with three beautiful dancers from the Dena Stevens Shazadi Dance Project; Choreographer and Principal Dancer Dena Stevens, Principal Dancer and show’s Associate Producer Peishan Lo, and Principal Dancer Alicia Kubeck. The dancers marveled the audiences with sword balancing acts, beautiful costumes and all the right moves.
Recognized by UNESCO, “Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera,” made its smash debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in May 2015 and triumphant Off Broadway debut at the famed West Village Players Theatre in may 2016. Porphyra’s album, “Faith, Struggle, Victory” also won the 2016 Best Rock Album in the Academia Music Awards. Porphyra’s Rock Opera debut at Flushing Town Hall was critically hailed as “PICK OF THE WEEK” from “It’s in Queens” popular online blog, the Queens Tribune and Queens Gazette.
You can learn more about Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera at www.Porphyrarockopera.com
and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PorphyraBand/, check out our merchandise and purchase your copy of "Faith, Struggle, Victory" and "The Starmaker's Prophecy” albums. Here is our new promo video https://www.facebook.com/greekrussianclub/videos/299670137112177/
Porphyra Foundation Inc, is a not for profit 501 (c) 3 and every donation and purchase of merchandise will go towards helping this production on its way to Broadway.
Here is what the press, local and civic leaders had to say about the show!
“The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present this wonderful cross-cultural performance of Anna & Vladimir. We hope this collaboration with Porphyra will strengthen our relationship between the Greek community and the many New Yorkers from around the world who now live and work in Flushing. We invite you to join us in this unique celebration of New York’s most diverse and dynamic community!”
Taehoon Kim, President of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.
“My small country, Greece, which is going through troubled times now, has a very strong weapon; its culture, history and the arts. Byzantine History is a most attractive history and the way Porphyra has worked to create this very important show, has breathed new life to the pivotal story of Anna and Vladimir. On behalf of UNESCO club of the department of Piraeus and Islands I congratulate the work of our Director of Modern Music in NY, Mr. Billy Chrissochos, on his mission to educate and build Cross–Cultural bridges between the Asian and Greek communities and the greater American public.”
Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Board of the World Federation of Associations and Club Centers for UNESCO.
“Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera is a wonderful blend of Greek history and modern rock music. A new experience everyone should see.”
Queens Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris.
“Only in Flushing can you find Greek folk music, belly dancing and a full rock orchestra performing in sync. The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce put together a unique and colorful production of this classic tale, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to bear witness right here in Queens.”
Peter Koo NYC Council Member 20th District, Queens.
The Spin on the relationship of Anna Porphyrogenitos and Prince Vladimir was well presented by the talented music and actors performing on stage. I enjoyed all aspects of the performance from music to costumes and movement of the theme through the various acts of the opera; an effective way to bring alive historical themes from the past. Perhaps youth could come to appreciate history through such performances.”
Reverend Father Paul Palesty, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
"This was a thrilling historical journey that has never been explored in such a unique way.”
Igor Kochan, President Russian Youth of the USA.
“A live band playing their original rock music accompanied by spectacular belly dancers. It is really worth it!”
World Journal. Most influential Chinese-language newspaper in North America.
"Porphyra is one of the most important cultural endeavors undertaken by members of the Greek American community. As a history presentation, it brings to life our Byzantine heritage, especially for our children. The musical compositions and performances are helping put Hellenes on New York's artistic map and the participants are an inspiration for our children."
Constantine Sirigos, journalist.
“Billy Chrissochos has taken some obscure Byzantine history and transformed it into a vibrantly romantic musical experience that expands the parameters of the rock genre in most interesting ways. The performance I saw was flawlessly presented by talented musicians, attractive principals with strong voices, and dancers with all the right moves. Ranging from rock and heavy metal to tender ballads, the score beautifully captures both the political intrigue as well as the romantic nuances of the love story PORPHYRA has to tell. The audacity of the concept works beautifully, giving new life to a very old love story.”
Jimmy DeMetro Director, NYC Greek Film Festival.
“Porphyra's, A Grecian Rock Opera - Anna and Vladimir: The love that Rocked the World” was nothing short of fantastic. Everyone in the production was spectacular from the musicians to the singers. It was a phenomenal Rock concert with a Hellenic Byzantine Opera twist, and a must see. Congratulations to all!”
Lou Katsos, President, EMBCA (East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance).
"Most of us can remember special moments in our lives, I can say I have experienced one of those when I attended the performance of Porphyra's: A Grecian Rock Opera, Anna & Vladimir: The Love That Rocked The World, on Friday June 2nd at the Flushing Town Hall. I'm happy and proud to have been there that night. It's not everyday, or even common for a Greek-American to be able to enjoy a magnificent and unique piece of entertainment, and also be proud of your heritage at the same time, Bravo Porphyra! You did it for me. I wish you continued success, and I hope to catch your next great experience.”
Peter Giakoumis, historian, author and Press Secretary for Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands NYC Modern Music Chapter.
“What is there to say about the new Greek Rock Opera “Anna and Vladimir: The Love That ROCKED the World,” of Billy Chrissochos? It is exciting music that has fine musicians and majestic singers and a grandiose and highly successful cast and crew. I cheer and applaud the production and director Despina Chrissochos and Associate Producer Peishan Lo in all their hard work in achieving this!”
Panayiotis Karousos, world renowned opera and classical music composer.President of The Hellenic American Center of the Arts.