“No one has ever dared to confront the myths of our transcendental history”

 

Orfeas 2020 would have been the first queer opera in greek. The alternative stage of the GNO commissioned FYTA to produce an adaptation of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. In our version, Orpheus would be the first openly gay prime minister of Greece getting married to his beloved Euri. The reworking followed structural narrative elements of the original text, but set the action in the near future, raising issues such as radical politics and the notion of 'revolution' in late capitalism, East / West relations, the myths of Hellenism, as well as the ways in which neoconservative politics can appropriate the human rights discourse of LGBT communities. The cast consisted of opera singers and queer performers sharing the stage, while baroque musicians, video artists and fashion makers coexisted behind the scenes. A meeting place of varied practitioners, a work of delicate balance of politics and aesthetics.

 

And while one of the intentions of the work was to confront the myths of greek national history, exposing their internal contradictions, inherent exclusionary violence and pure absurdity, it seems like the gods of greekness had the last laugh. The play attracted controversy since its very announcement with conservatives hating its unapologetic gayness and radicals doubting our ‘good politics’ credentials - especially since we were willing to collaborate with big institutions. In the end, greece entered a lockdown one day before our premiere, leaving us with a fully-prepared work that would not be presented to an audience. The greek gods would withhold the edging key to our creative ejaculation once more.

How ironic. In our adaptation, Orfeas proposes a queer retake on parliamentary politics, a bridging that would have never happened in a conservative country like greece. This attitude of trying to bring people together was cursed by the gods of hellenism as disrespectful; at the same time, Orfeas was abandoned by his queer peers for being a reformist. FYTA’s attempt to initiate a discussion between institutions and queer politics was their biggest hubris. And in the end, the controversies around the production and the cancellation of the opera due to the Covid19 lockdown could be yet another chapter to the imaginary meta-play that would be ‘the staging of Orfeas 2020’.

Programme notes (in Greek)

Text about the concept / direction by FYTA

Text about the music and the transcription by Andriana Minou, Alexandros Drosos, Fil Ieropoulos

Text about Orfeas and queer music in Greece by musicologist Nikos Vourdoulas

Press interviews (in Greek)

FYTA and associate director Anthi Kougia speak to Lifo

The librettists Andriana Minou and Foivos Dousos speak to Vice 

FYTA interview to Athinorama

FYTA speak to AntiVirus

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