"The long-distance lover and tales of his affair"

The long-distance lover and tales of his affairs

Loukia Rikaki directs 'Dialogues with Odysseus' at the Megaron Musikis

Having lived 11.000 years ago Homer, fortunately, is not in danger of being drawn into tho various associa­tions bandied about on the Internet in connection with U.S. President Bill Clinton's sexgate scandal. Homer was the first who publicized, in “The Odyssey*' and with remarkable liberty, the extramarital affairs of Odysseus. Indeed, Dimitris Maronitis, who translated the Homeric passages to he staged at the Athens Concert Hall this month affirms that it is “of great interest how the poet handles the whole issue, how he ho Idly studies erotic pathology, reconciling extramari­tal affairs with marital affairs or to put it bluntly how he passes off his hero from the girlfriends to the wife.” But the performance will not deal just with his trans­gressions with the seductress Calypso, the hedonist Circe, the untamed virgin Kahika. and the return to the marital fidelity of Penelope.

The impetus for “Dialogues with Odysseus' says Maronitis was the staging of Claudio Monteverdi's opera "II Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” at the Athens Concert Hall.
“Ί suggested the performance, reasoning that it would be good to [stage] the original text of the epic, knowing full well that we all speak of the classics, and espe­cially of Homer, but few of us have read him”, he said.
The production will feature sets, costumes and musicians on stage ' but the effort is for its the­atrical character not I·» eliminate the narrative shell of the epic." said Loukia Rikaki, who has directed the performance.
“It is. of course, an experi­ment." said Maronitis. " whose aim is to see what can be trans­mitted to the audience from the epic in a performance whose pri­mary element is aural and its sec­ondary is visual. Because I believe that hearing is the most gentle of senses and that which in our day has almost been distorted.”
Maronitis considers the entire project a “risk because the actors must strike a balance in a different type of acting that can be included in a narrative frame­work." while at the same time Rikaki chimes in. "fit the narra­tive style of Maronitis” who will fill the part of the narration. It is a difficult performance but one attempted by actors whose appearances are also harmonious. Constantine Konstantinidis plays the part of Odysseus. Aneza Papadopoulou is Penelope. Matina Moschovi is Circe. Evrydeia Sofroniadou is Calypso, and Katerina Lypiridou is Nafsika. Odysseus's mother, Anticleia, will be performed by Aleka Pnizi.
We agreed that we must move sparingly and minimally in the stage approach and let the spoken word dominate the performance." said Rikaki, who worked with Maronitis on the dramaturgy.
Everything is oriented in this direction. Only the sets are more theatrical, simply because it is required by the specific hall.  On a different stage, sets might not have been necessary at all.
Everything works around the spo­ken word, the relationships between people spare movement, the physical presence on stage” she added.
The iron installation around the stage of the Megaron’s smaller ‘Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall’ has been transformed into Ithaca. The scenes with Penelope and Odysseu’s mother mother will be played there, on several staggered levels on which soprano Mara Katsouli and bassist Vassilis Papavasiliou will be seated. A sculptured installation with three laces, each depicting the islands of Calypso,  Circe and Nafsika will be set up in the  center of the stage. The narra­tor will bv seated to «me tide, behind a modern desk, from where he will observe the characters as he breathes life into them”. The costumes and sets, both designed by Andonis Halkias are simple, flowing clothes that allow movement.” coached by Kyriakos Kosmidis.
The lighting, designed by Argyris Theos is also integral while Dimitri Kamarotos score is constantly combined with the narra­tive-rhapsody as bass and voice rise “like a development of the natural intonations and pauses of the narrator.
"The tempo of the perfor­mance is set by the text.” said Rikaki. “There is enough emotion in the performance and indeed, the text provides more opportu­nities than the form  we have chosen allows. But there are moments when we establish that electricity that exists in relationships. I hope this is transmitted to the audience."
But who was the Homeric hero's relationships with women singled out from all the other aspects of “The Odyssey”.
“I am very 1 am very interested in the almost distance the poet of the Odysseytakes on what I call extramarital relations.” Said Ma
Maronitis. "In The Iliad these relationships are even more negative while in The Odyssey though they start as the journey to the return and the spouse [embrace] they are transformed along the way into good conduits. He added that Homer needs women to broaden his hero’s emotional world as well as the emotional range of the epic itself.
“If one considers the role each of  these women plays in his return, then one can also understand the importance of each of these women." said Maronitis. “Calypso tries, as her name sug­gests,  to cover his memory uudand keep Odysseus with her in exchange for immortality and eternal youth. Cyrce is perhaps the most sensual character in the epic and seeks to plunge Odysseus into animal hedonism. Seeing him naked, the virgin Nafrika cannot hide the thought that this is the type of man she would want at her side.
As for Penelope, Maronitis notes the interplay between her and Osyddeus offers a particulare parallel between his extramarital affairs and her eluding of the overtures made by her suitors.
“We also have the exchanges between Odysseus and Anticleia, his mother in the Underworld. This is a wrenching dialogue” he adds “and is especially powerful with Paizi in the role.  I think this production even if it reaches the middle as just an experiment, is very beneficial. It will provide an opportunity [to audiences] to become familiar with a text that is little known even among the literary world.

By Vassilis Angelikopoulos