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The eclecticism of Theodorakis' music is apparent from the first. It's
a somewhat trivial game to cross off every major influence as it passes
by but, at the same time, it's useful to acknowledge where he's coming from.
Thus, with the Overture, for example, it's simply impossible not to sense
a touch of Ravel's Bolero, something of Stravinsky's Soldier's
Tale, a hint of Shostakovitch perhaps. There is no great problem with
this. Only the niggardly would resist going with the flow of it all. There's
more than enough Greek flavour to keep it geographically grounded and, anyway,
the stylistic borrowings are handled with considerable skill.
With a very well received casting coup, the role of the Poet is given
to Georgos Dalaras -- one of the great ambassadors of Greek popular song.
He has been involved with the preservation of a valuable cultural heritage
for the last thirty or forty years, took a sometimes-dangerous political
stand in the sensitive years of the Junta and has worked closely with Theodorakis
in many ventures at home and abroad. The audience clearly loves him. His
voice can be honey-smooth or import an aggrieved huskiness. It isn't as
plangent as it once was and, inevitably, the use of amplification in a large
hall makes it harder to assess its true health. I suspect, though, that
his mere presence is enough to raise the success rate of the show by many
notches for an indigenous audience.
When Lysistrata first appears in her 'below the Acropolis' garage set
(complete with old, but definitely mechanised, vehicles and graffiti-daubed
walls), she has something of the deportment of that inescapable Greek operatic
icon, La Callas herself. Daphne Evangelatos couldn't hope to emulate the
individuality of that earlier voice or the authority of the stage presence
that went with it, but she has a voice that you can hear would suit a fair
chunk of the Italian repertoire, with good control and resonance across
a wide range. As with all the singers, a true assessment was made more difficult
by the miking system that, just occasionally, threw the sound out of focus
or left disconcerting aural gaps.
Copyright © 21 April 2002
David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK
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