The Aegean Verdi Festival in Mytilene, Lesvos
June 19th--July 2nd, 2006

Pan-European Premier Revival of Verdi's opera "Orietta di Lesbo" plus three symphonic-choral-operatic concerts.

The Aegean Verdi Festival which took place in Mytilene, Lesvos between June 10th and July 2nd, 2006 left in its aftermath the whole island vibrating with the sounds of the great composers performed by an orchestra of phenomenally gifted young soloists from all over the world. These virtuosos met there not only to inspire the people of the island with masterpieces of the Western Musical Tradition, but to remind them of their own history by honoring the memory of the Genoan-Lesviot heroine who laid down her life in battle fighting for the islanders' freedom against the Ottoman invaders. After the World Premier Revival of "Orietta di Lesbo," Verdi's long lost alternate libretto to Giovanna D'Arco, the goal was to bring the opera to the place of its birth. Orietta saved the island of Lesvos from the Ottoman invaders in 1450, thus buying 12 years of freedom until the island finally fell in 1462 to the Turks. Like Joan of Arc, she was inspired to don male armor and tap her masculine strengths to fight to save the castle.

This libretto, which lay forgotten since 1850, was found by a group of operaphiles from the village of Vatoussa. A package of four concerts was presented June 17, 23, 24,and 30, in the lovely Municipal Theatre of Mytilene, funded primarily by Lewis and Clark College, the musicians themselves, and other benefactors. The world-class orchestra members and excellent cast of the World Premier Revival of Orietta (Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, March, 2006) included Ioanna Sfekas Karvelas, the Greek-American dramatic soprano from Lesvos who first breathed life into the heroine Orietta, Christopher Wells, baritone, and Lance Ferguson, tenor, joined by Barbara Wester Skipworth, soprano, and Peter Graham, bass-baritone--all this under the artistic direction of Dr. George Skipworth of Lewis and Clark College.

Never before had the inhabitants of the island experienced live performances of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with Ivelina Katalieva, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Plotinos Micromatis, Beethoven's Fifth, Mozart's String Divertimento, and so many excerpts from the great operas not only of Verdi, but Bizet, Cilea, Bellini, Mozart, Puccini, Mascagni, Dvorak, and Ponchielli.

Never before had the islanders seen such conductors as Brien Hemann, Dr. Steven Futrell, Plotinos Micromatis, and especially the masterful Alexander Halapsis, head of the Music Department of the University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus, and, of course, Dr George Skipworth.

This was the first time that local musicians and soloists of Opera Lesvos had worked with such world-class professionals
. Maria Galani, Kornelia Desli, Yorgos Siametis, and Vladimiros Siametis, along with violinist Angelika Danilevska, ten local choristers, and even a soloist from Athens, Dina Goudiotis, gave stellar performances.

Πρωτόγνωρα μουσικά ακούσματα
στο Δημοτικό Θέατρο . . . για το
«Διεθνές Φεστιβάλ Bέρντι του
Κανετε κλικ εδω να διαβαζετε
το αρθρο στα Ελληνικα.

Standing-room-only crowds packed each concert and the press gave rave reviews. Mayor Aris Hatzikomninos, the Director of the Theatre Perikles Mavroiannis, and the Greek American Organization GRACE, whose president is the reporter Dora Politis, hosted all 110 performers at victory celebrations and a 4th of July barbecue.

(Posting date 30 July 2006

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