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LES ECLAIRS by Philippe Hersant and Jean Eshenoz will be presented by the Greek National Opera in November 2019

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    The Greek National Opera (GNO) presents the national premiere of Les Éclairs (Flashes of Lightning), a four-act, fictionalized account of the life of Nikola Tesla by French composer Philippe Hersant and librettist Jean Echenoz.

    Originally premiered in 2021 at the Opéra Comique in Paris, Les Éclairs is the GNO's second co-production with the Comique, following their recent partnership for a production of Offenbach's Le Voyage dans la Lune. These first Greek performances of Les Éclairs take place on November 16, 19, and 21, 2023, at Stavros Niarchos Hall within the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).

    This production of Les Éclairs is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance GNO's artistic outreach.

    Les Éclairs delves into the fate of the engineer Nikola Tesla – aka Gregor Tesla. Upon arriving in New York in 1884, Gregor was filled with revolutionary visions of electricity applications. But he was more interested in scientific discoveries than in profit-making. Manufacturers plundered and perverted his inventions, driving him to seek refuge in lightning shows and the company of birds.

    Les Éclairs premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris in November 2022, and since then the opera has received a nomination for the 2024 Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Musical Composition Prize. Hervieu-Léger's production additionally garnered critical acclaim from the French magazine Díaspon: 

    “Clément Hervieu-Léger's wise show..is anchored in the America of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, which was the America of the scientist, of his rise and his fall: Everything shows it, from Caroline de Vivaise's costumes to Aurélie Maestre's sets (machines, skyscrapers) poetically lit by Bertrand Couderc, in finely chained scenes.”

    In 2010, Jean Echenoz published a biography on Nikola Tesla entitled Des Éclairs ("Lightning"). Subsequently, the Opéra Comique then commissioned (in 2016) Echenoz to adapt it into a libretto, an unusual move in which the libretto of an opera predated the selection of a composer. Three years later, Philippe Hersant was commissioned to compose the opera.

    French author Jean Echenoz's literary career spans fifteen books published by Les Éditions de Minuit with six novels published in English translation. His literary prowess came to the forefront with his debut novel, Le Méridien de Greenwich, which earned him the Prix Fénéon for best novel by a young writer in 1980. He has additionally received numerous literary prizes such as the Prix Médicis for Cherokee in 1983, the Prix Goncourt for Je m'en vais in 1999, the Prix François-Mauriac for Ravel in 2006, among others. 

    French composer Philippe Hersant has a diverse body of work spanning choral, orchestral, and chamber compositions, as well as pieces for ballet, theater, and cinema. His first opera, Le Château des Carpathes, was commissioned by Radio France and premiered in 1992, followed by his second opera, Le Moine noir, commissioned by Oper Leipzig and premiered in 2006. Hersant has received various awards throughout his career, including the Grand Prix musical de la Ville de Paris, the Prix de composition musicale de la Fondation Del Duca, the Grand Prix Lycéen des Compositeurs, and three honors at Les Victoires de la Musique Classique, establishing his prominence in contemporary French music.

    French director and actor Clément Hervieu-Léger became a member of the Comédie-Française in 2005 where he has directed numerous productions. An accomplished actor, Hervieu-Léger has collaborated with renowned directors such as Robert Wilson. In 2010, he co-founded La Compagnie des Petits Champs with Daniel San Pedro, and their production of Une des dernières soirées de Carnaval earned the 2020 Grand Prix du théâtre du Syndicat de la critique. Additionally, in May 2021, he was elected president of the Société d'Histoire du Théâtre.

    The orchestra is led by Chief Conductor of the GNO, Elias Voudouris. The revival is directed by the French director Claire Pasquier. The sets are designed by Aurélie Maestre, and costumes are by Caroline de Vivaise. Lighting is by Bertrand Couderc, and sound design is by Jean-Luc Ristord. Agathangelos Georgakatos serves as the chorus master for the GNO Chorus.

    The performance features a lineup of both established and emerging Greek soloists, including Haris Andrianos, Nefeli Kotseli, Yannis Kalyvas, Chrissa Maliamani, Yannis Selitsaniotis, Marios Sarantidis, Michalis Platanias, Yannis Stamatakis, Panagiotis Pantoulias, Vassilis Kotsikoyannis, Nektarios Samartzis, Christos Lazos, and Theodoros Moraitis.

    The Greek National Opera Presents Philippe Hersant And Jean Eshenoz's LES ECLAIRS November 2023

    Opera • New production

    Les Éclairs

    Philippe Hersant

    Libretto: Jean Echenoz

    16, 19, 21 November 2023

    Starts at: 19.30 (Sunday at: 18.30)

    Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC

    In co-production with the Opéra Comique 

    Conductor: Elias Voudouris

    Libretto: Jean Echenoz

    Director: Clément Hervieu-Léger

    Revival director: CIaire Pasquier

    Artistic collaboration: Frédérique Plain

    Sets: Aurélie Maestre

    Costumes: Caroline de Vivaise

    Lighting: Bertrand Couderc

    Lighting revival: Enzo Cescatti

    Sound design: Jean-Luc Ristord

    Chorus master: Agathangelos Georgakatos

    Gregor: Haris Andrianos

    Ethel Axelrod: Nefeli Kotseli

    Norman Axelrod: Yannis Kalyvas

    Betty: Chrissa Maliamani

    Edison: Yannis Selitsaniotis

    Parker: Marios Sarantidis

    Le Capitaine, un domestique, un adjoint d'Edison: Michalis Platanias

    Le Second, le Médecin légiste: Yannis Stamatakis

    Domestiques: Panagiotis Pantoulias, Vassilis Kotsikoyannis

    Adjoints d'Edison: Nektarios Samartzis, Christos Lazos, Theodoros Moraitis

    With the Orchestra and the Chorus of the Greek National Opera

    Ticket prices: €15, €20, €25, €30, €35, €40, €45, €60

    Students, children: €12

    Limited visibility seats: €10

    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 is 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) [www.SNF.org], 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 SNFCC 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. In 2020 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; Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk  directed by Fanny Ardant; 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; Verdi's Otello, a co-production with Festspiel Baden-Baden directed by Robert Wilson; Mozart's Don Giovanni, a co-production with the Göteborg Opera and the Royal Danish Opera directed by John Fulljames; Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, a co-production with La Monnaie de Munt, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski; Verdi's Fallstaff, directed by the artistic director of the Glyndebourne Festival Stephen Langridge; Verdi's Rigoletto, directed by the artistic director of the Athens Festival Katerina Evangellatos; and Puccini's Madama Butterfly directed by director of the Théâtre du Châtelet Olivier Py.

    For more information, visit nationalopera.gr/en.


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