The Air of Greece, George Tsontakis



Alternative Stage

Music theatre

The Air of Greece

George Tsontakis
  • 17, 18 Dec 2021

Greek National Opera Alternative Stage
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

World premiere / Commissioned by the GNO Alternative Stage

Cycle Odes to Byron

CuratorAlexandros Mouzas

Starts at20.30(Saturday: 21.30)|

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

In collaboration with The Messolonghi Byron Society

 LOGO 2021

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) [].

At the culmination of the Alternative Stage's tribute to Lord Byron, we find the new music theatre piece by Greek-American composer George Tsontakis, an award-winning creator well-known for the rhetorical and communicative power of his music.

The work, commissioned by the GNO, aspires to nothing less than a reconstruction of the poet's Greek adventure: Byron arrived at Missolonghi in January 1824 and died there three months later at the age of thirty-six, after an intense period of brave, though confused, involvement with the Greek War of Independence, of meditation on the onset of middle age and his awareness of the oncoming end, of visionary desire for heroic action as well as of impetuous passion for the sixteen-year-old warrior Lukas Chalandritsanos.

The composer sets the scene at Byron's deathbed and undertakes to render the dying poet's consciousness through a musical and textual synthesis of authentic historical documents (in Greek) and fragments from his poetical work (in English). Sung by a vocal ensemble that combines the functions of English Madrigalists and Greek Chorus, the work juxtaposes the memory of the poet's passionate and aristocratic youth to the chaotic war conditions he came up against in revolutionary Greece, thus highlighting the transcendent dimension of his ultimate, sublimely Romantic self-sacrifice on the altar of the ideal.

A workshop for young composers with George Tsontakis will take place concurrently with the performances of the work The Air of Greece.

A sentimentalist as well as an ironist, a humanitarian as well as an animal lover, a person of ideas as well as one of passion, a man of action as well as a sybarite, a lover of men as well as women, mad, bad and dangerous to know, a philhellene to the (untimely) end and, most of all, a poet through and through, Lord Byron incarnated in an exemplary way and like no other figure the enthusiasms, achievements and contradictions of the Romantic movement. In an attempt to artistically render some idea of the magnitude of the work and impact of this precursor of the modern figure of the superstar, the GNO Alternative Stage presents throughout 2021 a multifaceted tribute, proportional to an inexhaustible personality that left behind, in only 36 years of life and in addition to 17 (!) volumes of poetry (opportune since its own time to all kinds of dramatic and musical appropriation), memorable political action, a slew of scandals and broken hearts as well as a reputation doomed, one might say, to transhistorical, as well as feverish, mythification.

The GNO tribute, curated by the composer Alexandros Mouzas, traverses the eras, genres and species of musical and theatrical discourse, covering a spectrum that extends from recital (the forgotten Hebrew Melodies, a collaboration between Byron and the Jewish musician Isaac Nathan in the spirit of the former's Romantic interest for endangered ethnic cultures; new musical settings of Byron's innovative, queer erotic poetry by three young composers) to Greek folk shadow theatre. Predictably, the largest share of the programming is dedicated to contemporary music theatre: a dramatisation of the poet's letters from Greece by Mouzas; a multimedia tribute to Byron's daughter and... computer pioneer Ada Lovelace by Yannis Kyriakides and, at the conclusion of the tribute, the new work by the distinguished Greek-American composer George Tsontakis, a treatment of Byron's last days in Missolonghi.

Workshop for young composers with George Tsontakis
20, 21, 22 December 2021 - Sessions start at 11.00
GNO Alternative Stage - SNFCC
As part of the tribute to the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution
With the participation of an instrumental ensemble

Concurrently with the production of his new music theatre work The Air of Greece at the Alternative Stage, award-winning composer George Tsontakis will host a three-day composition workshop, addressed to composers until the age of 35.
Applicants may send the following material to the e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until Monday, 1 November:
- Two (2) representative works of theirs as pdf scores. Scores may be accompanied by sound files (midi renderings acceptable)
- One (1) or two (2) works or extracts of works to be read/rehearsed by a live instrumental ensemble during the masterclass. Works to be rehearsed must be written for one (1) up to five (5) musicians from the following configuration: flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, percussion, harp, piano, violin, cello. The total duration of works to be rehearsed must not exceed six (6) minutes. It is understood that representative works and works to be read may be the same
- CV, including proof of birth date.
Composers whose works are selected will be notified by the GNO Alternative Stage by the end of November.
For further enquiries, please send any questions to the address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Free admission upon priority vouchers

George Tsontakis, Elsa Andrianou

George Tsontakis / Nikos Laaris

Elsa Andrianou

Nefeli Maistrali

Featuring actor Robin Beer

With the participation of a 6-member vocal and a 9-member instrumental ensemble

Ticket prices:: 12€, 15€
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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  • Friday 17 December 2021, 20:30 The Air of Greece, George Tsontakis GREEK NATIONAL OPERA - SNFCC
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  • Saturday 18 December 2021, 21:30 The Air of Greece, George Tsontakis GREEK NATIONAL OPERA - SNFCC
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