Asikiko Poulaki, Mikis Theodorakis



Alternative Stage


Asikiko Poulaki

Mikis Theodorakis
  • 04, 05 Dec 2021

Greek National Opera Alternative Stage
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Mikis Theodorakis Cycle

Starts at 20.30(Sunday 19.30)|

As part of the tribute to the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution

 LOGO 2021

The Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera presents Mikis Theodorakis remarkable work Asikiko Poulaki, with lyrics by Michalis Ganas, as part of the three year tribute cycle to Mikis Theodorakis. The new performance of the work through the eyes of Andreas Katsigiannis, the artistic manager of the Estudiantina of Nea Ionia orchestra, and with soloist Yannis Dionysiou, will be presented on the GNO Alternative Stage at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on 4 and 5 December 2021. The concert is held as part of the tribute to the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.

In a new approach to this singular work for the Alternative Stage, Yannis Dionisiou and the Estudiantina of Nea Ionia (a distinguished and internationally recognised traditional orchestra, dedicated to the creative continuity of the eclectic musical tradition of Smyrna) promise a modern and productive reconnection of Theodorakis' inspiration to its traditional, Ionic roots.

This production, part of a tribute to the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution, is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) []

Among the most interesting and unusual compositions in Mikis Theodorakis' inexhaustible oeuvre, the song cycle with the peculiar title Asikiko Poulaki came into being thanks to the initiative and fertile collaboration of a group of artists (including the guitarist and arranger Yannis Spathas, the singer Vasilis Lekkas and the poet Michalis Ganas) to whom Theodorakis entrusted the first recording of the work, released in 1996.

The cycle Asikiko Poulaki is the climax of the long, though covert, experimentation of the then seventy-year-old Theodorakis with the melodic modes and asymmetrical rhythms of the tradition of Asia Minor. Additionally, it constitutes a belated and moving tribute to the composer's mother, Aspasia Poulaki (whose last name, literally meaning little bird, can be found in the work's title), as well as her ancestry (from ?e?me, Asia Minor). Moreover thanks to Michalis Ganas' initiative, the song The Paths of the Archangel was added to the cycle, inspired by the composer's autobiography of the same title.

For its part, the term Asikiko (from the Turkish word a??k, meaning lovelorn as well as traditional bard, but whose meaning in Greek is gallant, vigorous) refers to a composite dance metre, invented by Theodorakis, in which groups of three and two beats (long or short) alternate progressively, in contrast to the symmetrical two-beat metre marking the dance Theodorakis had invented earlier in the past for the film Zorba the Greek, the well-known Syrtaki.

Asikiko Poulaki was rearranged and adapted for its presentation on the GNO Alternative Stage by the celebrated and prolific composer and founder of the Estudiantina of Nea Ionia orchestra Andreas Katsigiannis, at the behest of Mikis Theodorakis himself.

With light from the East...

It was October 2005 when Mikis Theodorakis invited me to his home to propose an idea to me, after having carefully listened to all the recordings released by that time by Estudiantina of Nea Ionia. I distinctly remember this phrase he had told me: 'I want you to reveal the roots of my work Asikiko Poulaki, through the sound of Estudiantina, through Yannis' sound.' Yannis Spathas, this exceptional musician, had orchestrated the first performance of this particular work to lyrics by Michalis Ganas, sang by Vasilis Lekkas. Today, fulfilling Mikis Theodorakis' wish after 16 years, unfortunately under the burden of his absence and the absence of Yannis Spathas, I feel the need, in tribute to their memory, to closely follow these wonderful paths of the Archangel, which have been blazed by Mikis and first trodden by Yannis and Vasilis, and which will now be reilluminated by us, notes Andreas Katsigiannis.

Lyrics: Michalis Ganas

Orchestration, adaptations, santur: Andreas Katsigiannis

Soloist: Yannis Dionysiou

With the participation of Estudiantina of Nea Ionia

Kyriakos Gouventas (violin), Stavros Kouskouridas (clarinet, kaval), George Matsikas (bouzouki, lavta), Kostas Gedikis (bouzouki, lute), Apostolos Valaroutsos (guitars), Kostas Konstantinou (contrabass), Dimos Vougioukas (accordion), Andreas Papas, Kostas Meretakis (percussion), Filippos Retsios (piano)

Ticket prices:: 15€, 20€
Students, children: 10€

In line with the restrictive measures for the protection of public health against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is noted that according to the instructions of the Greek State, GNO's venues at the SNFCC will operate at a 100% capacity and only for persons who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 (audience members need to present a respective valid certificate). Children from 4 to 17 years of age may present a certificate of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 or a negative self-test result declaration, provided that the test has been taken within the last 24h.

The Greek National Opera does not collect or process any personal data during the certificate verification process.

- All measures to prevent overcrowding when entering and exiting the venue will apply, and mask-wearing is mandatory upon entering and exiting the venue and throughout the duration of the performance.

- You can find more detailed information at


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  • Saturday 04 December 2021, 20:30 Asikiko Poulaki, Mikis Theodorakis GREEK NATIONAL OPERA - SNFCC
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  • Sunday 05 December 2021, 19:30 Asikiko Poulaki, Mikis Theodorakis GREEK NATIONAL OPERA - SNFCC
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