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Our shared vision with the Greek National Opera (GNO)

Art entails experimentation, having the courage to change, to dare, to take risks.

Special thanks

For their participation in the video:
GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumentakis,the GNO chorus, the students of the GNO Professional School of Dance, soprano Vasiliki Karagianni, and pianist Sofia Tamvakopoulou. The audio excerpts from La traviata and Swan Lake are from GNO performances with the GNO Orchestra and Chorus.

For the production of the video:
The GNO Artistic Direction, the GNO Marketing and Communication Department, the GNO Stage Direction Department, the GNO Technical Direction, the GNO Costume Department, the GNO Chorus, the GNO Professional School of Dance, the GNO Ballet, Department of sound, sound boost, sound recording.

That has been our shared vision with the Greek National Opera (GNO) since 2012, when we started supporting efforts to promote its work and then created its new home at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens. All of us at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) are extremely proud to have witnessed—through a further five-year grant to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach made in 2019 as the culmination of our long-term partnership—the GNO gradually unlock its potential and play an important role on the international art scene, deepening its work and expanding its audience both in terms of age and geography.

Ours has been a partnership of many acts, one with a large cast. This timeline covers milestones from our 12 years of collaboration between 2012 and 2024.

2012 – 2018 | The curtain opens on the collaboration between the GNO and SNF

In 2012, with construction of the SNFCC—and by extension the GNO’s new facilities—underway, SNF started supporting activities to promote and highlight the GNO’s work, despite the deeply adverse conditions created by the socioeconomic crisis Greece was undergoing. In collaboration with the GNO staff under the leadership of Myron Michailidis, who served as the GNO’s Artistic Director from 2011 – 2017, and with the goal of raising public awareness, especially among young people, these activities started traveling to open-air public spaces across Greece. The most important development during this period, which framed the overall cooperation between the two organizations, was the opening of the SNFCC and the GNO’s official move to its state-of-the-art new facilities there in 2017.


Myron Michailidis becomes Artistic Director of the GNO

At the helm of the GNO, Artistic Director Myron Michailidis upgrades the organization’s artistic programming and plays a key role in the GNO’s smooth relocation to its new home.


Opera in a Suitcase embarks on its journey

As indicated by the name, Opera in a Suitcase was a program supporting traveling small-scale opera performances. La bohème was presented with great success at various venues and open-air spaces across Greece.

Photo credit: Charis Akriviadis


Grant supporting the implementation of the two-year program Journey to the SNFCC

Through a series of open, interactive events held across Greece, the aim of the Journey to the SNFCC program was to introduce the public to the mission and vision of the SNFCC, which was under construction at the time, and by extension, with their relocation to the SNFCC on the horizon, to reacquaint people with the work of the GNO and the National Library of Greece (NLG).

Photo credit: © Stefanos

2017 The GNO at its new home

The SNFCC, which holds the new facilities of the GNO and the NLG, is delivered to the people of Greece and officially opens its doors to the public. A new era starts for the GNO, which, with support from our grant, transitions successfully to its new home and a new stage: Stavros Niarchos Hall, designed in accordance with international standards. Our grant also supports the establishment of the GNO’s Alternative Stage and its artistic program with the goal of developing it into an accessible space for contemporary creation. At the same time, the grant supports strengthening the GNO’s Educational & Social Activities.

2017 February

Giorgos Koumendakis becomes the Artistic Director of the GNO

Giorgos Koumendakis, one of Greece’s most multi-dimensional contemporary composers, assumes the role of leading the GNO into a new era. Today, he is the only Artistic Director in the history of the organization to have been appointed for a third consecutive term.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

2017 April

The first GNO performance at Stavros Niarchos Hall, during its six-month pilot run

Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth, directed by Lorenzo Mariani, is the first opera presented by the GNO at the SNFCC. The production is a revival of one first presented by the GNO in January 2014 at the Athens Concert Hall under the musical direction of then GNO Artistic Director Myron Michailidis. Both the new performance and the new facilities receive rave reviews from the audience and the press.

Photo credit: Vassilis Makris

2019 – 2024 | The GNO around the world

In January 2019, at an event in the GNO’s Stavros Niarchos Hall, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos and GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis gave a joint press conference to announce a new five-year, €20 million grant from SNF to support the GNO’s artistic outreach for four seasons. The grant focused primarily on partnerships with prestigious opera houses from all around the globe, guest appearances and residencies by great artists, and international exposure for the GNO’s work.

Artistic Season 2019 - 2020 | Global outreach, act one.

The GNO reaches outward, beyond the borders of Greece, away from the status quo and established norms. It launches new international partnerships with prestigious international lyrical theaters, leading directors, and internationally renowned soloists. It reaches out to new audiences and reintroduces itself to those who were already familiar with its work.

2019 April

First coproduction with the Baden-Baden Festival

The GNO embarks on its first co-production with one of the most important festival institutions in Europe, the Baden-Baden Festival, presenting Verdi’s Otello. The performance, directed and designed by renowned US director Robert Wilson, premiered at Baden-Baden on April 13, 2019, and was subsequently presented in Athens in early 2022.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

2019 May

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, directed by Fanny Ardant

One of the most popular operas of the 20th century, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich is presented in a particularly ambitious production, directed by Fanny Ardant and under the musical direction of Vassilis Christopoulos. Producing an artistic result extremely high in quality and international in scope, Fanny Ardant presents the work to Greek audiences by assembling an extraordinary creative team comprising Tobias Hoheisel for set design, Milena Canonero and Petra Reinhardt for costume design, Luca Bigazzi for lighting design, and the Collectif (LA)HORDE for movement coaching.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

2019 December

Don Carlo with leading international stars

Don Carlo, one of the most important operas of Verdi’s mature period was presented—in its Italian five-act version (the “Modena version”)—for the first time in Greece, in a coproduction with the Royal Opera House in London, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo directed by multi-award-winning theater, cinema, and opera director Sir Nicholas Hytner.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva 

2020 January

Launch of a major communication campaign to promote the GNO’s work

SNF’s grant to support the GNO’s artistic outreach also included the implementation of a promotional campaign that rolled out in Greece and abroad to showcase the GNO’s work. The campaign’s theme was birth, symbolizing new ideas, new impact, and innovation.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva 

2020 July

The GNO presents a recital with Anita Rachvelishvili

Right after the first phase of the pandemic lockdown, the GNO returned to action with open air concerts in the summer of 2020, including a recital given by the great mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili in the Roman Agora of Athens, which was watched via livestream on GNO TV by more than 1,000,000 people around the globe.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

Artistic Season 2020 - 2021 | The pandemic doesn’t stop the GNO’s work

For most of the 2020-2021 artistic season, live performances were suspended as part of pandemic public health measures. However, the GNO, recognizing the vital role of art, especially in times of adversity, endeavored to keep its work and contact with the public alive by leaning into its digital presence and offering physical performances whenever possible.

2020 November

Launch of GNO TV with Madama Butterfly

“The performance of Madama Butterfly will begin in 5 minutes. Please take your seats on your sofa and raise the volume on your smartphones.”  GNO TV presents its first ever online performance in November 2020, with a full launch coming in early March 2021. The GNO’s digital transition was not only a response to the conditions created by the pandemic, but also an invitation to a wider international audience.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva 

2021 January

The GNO kicks off its program celebrating the 200-year anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821

Τhe GNO’s programming celebrating the 200-year anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 kicked off with Umberto Giordano’s iconic opera Andrea Chénier. Due to the pandemic, the performance was filmed without a live audience and streamed on GNO TV. The anniversary programming continued into the next artistic season (2021-2022), with a total of more than 27 productions in Stavros Niarchos Hall and on the Alternative Stage.  

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos 

2021 July

The GNO presents the Verdi All-Star Gala with the leading operatic soprano of the 21st century

The Verdi All-Star Gala is held at the Panathenaic Stadium, starring some of the leading opera singers of our era. Even with the pandemic response measures in place, the performance was attended by more than 8,000 people.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

Artistic Season 2021 – 2022 Together again, up close

With the pandemic gradually relaxing its grip on public gatherings, the GNO invites people to “return to their seats” and experience the magic of its performances up close once again.

2021 September

Le Figaro’s feature on the GNO

The GNO draws the interest of audiences and media outlets from around the world. In a lengthy feature, French newspaper Le Figaro highlights the GNO’s recent work and the support that SNF has lent it, which, according to the article, enable the GNO to “radiate internationally.”

2021 September

Renowned visual artist and performer Marina Abramović at the GNO

The GNO returns to Stavros Niarchos Hall, presenting the ambitious operatic project of the priestess of performance art, Marina Abramović, about Maria Callas, titled 7 deaths of Maria Callas. It is a coproduction of the GNO, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Opéra national de Paris, and the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

2022 May

Three contemporary choreographies. Three internationally renowned choreographers.

The GNO Ballet presents—in a packed Stavros Niarchos Hall—the dance triptych 3 Rooms, choreographed by leading Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, internationally renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, and Greek choreographer Konstantinos Rigos, who presented a brand-new choreography scored by GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva

2022 May

World Premiere of short film Bleat by Yorgos Lanthimos

Bleat, the long-awaited short film from internationally acclaimed filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, was shown to live musical accompaniment in the GNO’s Stavros Niarchos Hall. Bleat was the second work to be commissioned as part of the GNO and NEON program The Artist on the Composer and was implemented by the GNO through a grant from SNF. The official premiere was attended by Academy Award winner and star of the film Emma Stone. The film subsequently had its international premiere at one of the oldest and most prestigious US film festivals, the New York Film Festival.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

Artistic Season 2022 – 2023 | The Greek National Opera on the international stage

The ambitious artistic programming of the 2022-23 season includes major international coproductions with leading lyrical theaters from New York and Chicago to Brussels and Paris.  

2022 October

Don Giovanni, a major coproduction with the GNO

Mozart’s opera masterpiece Don Giovanni was presented at the GNO under the musical direction of Ondrej Olos and directed by acclaimed stage director—and former Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera—John Fulljames. This major international GNO coproduction with the Gothenburg and Copenhagen opera houses premiered online on GNO TV during the 2020-21 season and was subsequently presented in Copenhagen in 2022 and traveled to Gothenburg in 2023.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva

2022 December

Don Quixote, featuring internationally acclaimed artists

The GNO Ballet presented an ambitious new production of Ludwig Minkus’s Don Quixote, featuring internationally renowned artists. Specifically, Thiago Bordin revived Marius Petipa’s classic original choreography, world ballet stars Maia Makhateli and Daniil Simkin collaborated for the very first time with the GNO Ballet, internationally acclaimed Greek set designer George Souglides created the sets and well-known Greek fashion designer Mary Katrantzou undertook the costume design.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva

2023 April

Launch of the celebrations marking 100 years since the birth of Maria Callas

The GNO launched its tribute to Maria Callas, marking the centennial of the renowned soprano’s birth, with Luigi Cherubini’s Medea. It was a major international GNO coproduction with three leading North American opera houses—the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Six individual productions took place as part of the tribute, which also included additional performances, concerts, exhibitions, and installations.

Photo credit: Αndreas Simopoulos

2023 July

Inauguration of the GNO’s partnership with Opéra Comique

The GNO’s strategic partnership with the Opéra Comique in Paris, one of the most important opera houses in Europe, founded in 1714, was inaugurated with a new production of the Offenbach opera Le Voyage dans la Lune, directed by Laurent Pelly.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva

Artistic Season 2023 – 2024 | The applause intensifies

The 2023-2024 artistic season marks the completion of SNF’s five-year grant supporting the GNO’s artistic outreach and, like every season, it includes major international coproductions and partnerships with leading creators from abroad. The repertoire keeps growing, as does the applause.

2023 November

National premiere of the contemporary opera Les Éclairs

The Greek audience had the opportunity to experience the national premiere of the third opera to be written by multi-award-winning French composer Philippe Hersant, Les Éclairs. It is the GNO’s second coproduction with the Opéra Comique in Paris.

Photo credit: Andreas Simopoulos

2023 November

International opera channel Mezzo presents a new documentary on the GNO and SNF

This major tribute to the only opera house in Greece launches with the premiere of a new documentary on both the GNO and its support from SNF. At the same time, Mezzo also broadcasts four iconic GNO productions—Madama Butterfly, Wozzeck, The Murderess, and Juditha triumphans—in 80 countries around the world.

Photo credit: Valeria Isaeva

2024 March

Wagner is performed at the GNO’s new premises for the first time

Die Walküre will be presented at Stavros Niarchos Hall in an international GNO coproduction with the Royal Danish Opera. Conducting is the internationally renowned Philippe Auguin, while acclaimed British director John Fulljames is staging the production. This is the second collaboration between the GNO and the Royal Danish Opera.

Photo credit: Camilla Winther