Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lecture with Iphigenie en Tauride Conductor William Lacey

In anticipation of the Washington National Opera premier of Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, the Embassy of Greece and the WNO are proud to present a lecture with conductor William Lacey on Thursday, May 5 from 6:30pm-8:30pm. The event will be held at the Embassy of Greece, 2217 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington D.C. 20008.

Iphigenie en Tauride, composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, is one of the greatest operas from the classical period, and was also a hugely influential work. Mozart, Weber, Berlioz, Wagner
and Richard Strauss were all inspired by the nobility and dramatic power of Gluck's masterpiece. In rejecting the decorative, repetitive style of Baroque opera in favor of a new purity and intensity of expression, Gluck was himself inspired by ancient Greek drama.

In this lecture, William Lacey investigates how Gluck's reimagining of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles paved the way for the Romantic music-drama and the classic Greek heroine Ifigenia. Maestro Lacey, a regular conductor at leading opera houses around the world, brings extensive experience with operas of the Baroque and early Classical periods and will provide unique insight into the adaptation of Euripides’ work from Greek play to French opera.

To RSVP, please e-mail


The Embassy of Greece, in collaboration with the Greek Film Center and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece is proud to present the Panorama of Greek Cinema series at the Avalon Theater in Washington, D.C. This series, which holds screenings on the first Wednesday of each month at 8:00pm, provides a unique opportunity for D.C. filmgoers to experience the best of Greek cinema.

On Wednesday, May 4 at 8:00pm, the Panorama of Greek Cinema series will celebrate its first anniversary with a screening of the film Ulysses' Gaze (Me to vlemma tou Odyssea). Written and directed by Theo Angeopoulos, the film received many awards: the Grand Jury Prize at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the Critics Award in 1995 by the European Film Academy, and the Top 100 Films of All Time list by Time Magazine.

A Greek-American filmmaker, known simply as «A», returns to his hometown in northern Greece for a screening of his latest controversial film. His real reason for coming back, however, is to track down three long-missing reels of film by Greece's pioneering Manakia brothers who in the early years of cinema traveled through the Balkans, ignoring national and ethnic strife and recording ordinary people, especially craftsmen, on film. Their images, he believes, hold the key to lost innocence and essential truth, to an understanding of the Balkan history. Thus, he embarks on a search that takes him across the war-torn Balkans, a landscape of spectral figures and broken dreams, right to the heart of darkness: a damaged film archive in Sarajevo where his quest ends. Like a latter-day, Ulysses finds his «Ithaca», the missing, undeveloped film and is at last united with the work of the Manakia brothers... his gaze communes with theirs and another journey begins...

The film runs for 176 minutes and is in English, Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian, Serbian, and Romanian with English subtitles.

The Avalon Theater
5612 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20015

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Rare Glimpse into Life on Mt. Athos

On Easter Sunday, April 24, 60 Minutes aired an enlightening documentary giving viewers a rare glimpse into life in the monasteries of Mt. Athos, the holiest and most exclusive monastic community in all of Eastern Orthodoxy. The CBS anchor explained how difficult it was to obtain the interview, as there has not been a news team permitted on the peninsula since 1981. It took over two years of persistent communication and negotiation before the monks of Mt. Athos permitted the 60 Minutes crew to visit the community.

Considered one of the most sacred locations in Orthodox Christianity, Mt. Athos is a peninsula in the north of Greece, part of the larger Halkidiki peninsula. Twenty monasteries inhabit Mt. Athos, each one like its own enclosed town, self-sufficient and productive. The Orthodox monks who live in the monasteries have dedicated their lives to Christ, choosing to live simply, austerely, and piously.

The peninsula has been a sacred place for centuries, with the first monks living on Mt. Athos as early as the 3rd or 4th century. Monastic communities were well-established on the peninsula by the Byzantine era, and they continued to flourish even under Ottoman occupation. Today, several of the monasteries contain icons dating as far back as the 14th century. One of the monasteries even contains a holy relic dating back from the 1st century: a piece of cloth worn by the Virgin Mary.

It is said that over 1,000 divine liturgies take place each day on Mt. Athos, as there are many churches on the peninsula in addition to the twenty monasteries. The monks of Mt. Athos pray for hours on end, some continuing to move their lips in prayer even as they do daily activities such as cooking or cleaning. When they are not called to prayer, the monks occupy themselves with other tasks, such as iconography, harvesting fruit, and welcoming the many pilgrims to the monasteries.

Mt. Athos welcomes many pilgrims each year, though each one is required to obtain a special permit from the monks before making the journey. Only Orthodox Christian men over the age of 18 are permitted to visit; women are not allowed on the territory at all. One of the holy fathers explained to the CBS crew why this was, and his reasoning was twofold. First, by Christian legend, the land was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and so to honor her, no other woman was allowed to step foot on Mt. Athos. Second, the monks decided that the presence of women would distract the monks from their vows of chastity.

Mt. Athos' exceptional beauty and serenity make it the ideal location for direct communication with God. The monks who live there have maintained the same simple lifestyle for centuries, seeking enlightenment through prayer and meditation. The 60 Minutes special allows all people, men and women alike, to see what life is like for the monks of Mt. Athos.

For more information on Mt. Athos, please visit:

To view the entire videoclip, please visit:;lst;1

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Greek Easter

For Greek Orthodox Christians, Easter is considered the most important and meaningful holiday of the year. Preparations for Easter begin 48 days before the actual holiday, allowing the faithful a period of fasting and contemplation to ready themselves for the Holy Resurrection. Lent, which lasts for 40 days, begins on Clean Monday (Greek: Kathara Deutera), seven weeks before Easter. Immediately after Lent ends, Holy Week begins with the Saturday of Lazarus, the day Orthodox Christians celebrate Christ's miraculous resuscitation of his friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. The Holy Week liturgical services culminate in a commemoration of Christ's Last Supper of the Passover meal, His Death on the Cross, burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Many people are aware that Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter often on a different day than Western Christians. This is because the Orthodox Church fathers declared Easter to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. Though this formula for calculating the date of Easter is the same for both Eastern and Western Christian churches, the Orthodox traditionally follow the older Julian Calendar, while the Western Christians schedule their Easter according to the Gregorian Calendar. It is also important for Orthodox Easter to fall after the Jewish holiday of Passover, since Christ celebrated Passover in Jerusalem at his Last Supper.
In Greece and in Greek-American communities in America, Easter traditions are varied and unique. At the center of the celebrations, there is always copious amounts of food. The most popular foods on a Greek Easter table are roast lamb (often cooked on a spit), magiritsa (a kind of soup made from lamb offal), braided sweet bread (tsoureki), and grilled tripe (kokoretsi). One of the most beloved Easter traditions is the dying of red eggs. The women in a family will hard boil eggs and dye them a deep red color. The egg is a symbol of new life, while the red symbolizes the blood of Christ. On Easter Sunday, each family member receives a red egg to 'compete' with. The eggs are hit together, either on the small end (the nose) or the large end (the behind), and whoever is left with his or her egg intact is the winner.

For more information on different Easter traditions throughout Greece, please visit:

Have a Happy and Blessed Pascha!

Sources: Greek News Agenda,,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Zagori: The Land Behind the Mountain

At the heart of Epirus prefecture, perched like eagles’ nests on the slopes and ridges of the Tymfi and Mitsikeli mountains, the Greek mainland reveals the wild beauty of the 46 stone-built villages of Zagori, also collectively known as 'Zagorohoria.' The name Zagori means "the land behind the mountain", and geographically, the area is divided into three parts: eastern, central and western.

Throughout the settled area of Zagori, the wealth of past times is still reflected in the stone mansions, the school buildings, and the imposing churches, most of which were built with donations by affluent expatriate Zagorians.

Although each one of the 46 villages may have their own unique qualities, but all of them share an incomparable beauty that captivates even the most demanding visitor. Built amphitheatrically on the mountain slope and sheltered from the wind, the village of Monodendri welcomes the visitors in its central square where an enormous old plane tree (platanus) stands.

From there, after a few minutes walk on a stone-cobbled path, the Aghia Paraskevi Monastery appears nestled on a rock overlooking the Vikos Gorge, which is said to be the deepest in the world. The monastery, which is also known as the 'balcony over the gorge', is the oldest preserved church in Zagori, built in 1412.

At the foot of the Tymfi Mountain lies one of Greece's most delightful and unblemished villages, Papigo, which consists of two districts: Megalo (large) and Mikro (small) Papigo. In Mikro Papigo, WWF Hellas has established an Information Centre for nature and culture in Zagori, housed at the old primary school of the village.

Imposing rocks hang over the village, known as the "towers of Papigo" and on a mountain terrace lies Drakolimni, one of the three alpine lakes in the Pindus mountain range, which according to local legends used to be inhabited by dragons.

No words can describe Zagorochoria. It is a natural and cultural wonder to be discovered and an experience that undoubtedly will not let you down. And with 46 picturesque and idyllic villages, there is plenty to explore and discover!

Source: Greek News Agenda

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ashmolean Museum of Oxford Exhibits Macedonian Artifacts

A major exhibition titled Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from Royal Capital of Macedon, A Hellenic Kingdom in the age of Democracy, was inaugurated at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, on April 6.

More than 500 extraordinary objects - most of which go on display for the first time outside Greece – are showcased.

These recent finds were discovered in the royal burial tombs and the palace at Aegae, the ancient capital of Macedon. In his speech at the inauguration, Greece’s ambassador to the UK, Aristidis Sandis, referred to the importance of the exhibition, which, as he said, proves the Greek character of Macedonia adding that Greece is always happy to show to the international community its rich cultural heritage through such important events.

Historian and Oxford academic, Robin Lane Fox, described the exhibition as "the greatest day of classical exhibitions in my lifetime." The exhibition will run through August 29.

[Photo at right: The Macedon queen's diadem, which Robin Lane Fox called the "single most beautiful object in gold on the planet."]

Source: Greek News Agenda

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dimitris Daskalopoulos Collection is Exhibited at the Guggenheim Bilbao

The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum will host an exhibition with works from the collection of Hellenic Federation of Enterprises Chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos, one of the most important private collections of contemporary art.

The exhibition, titled The Luminous Interval: The D. Daskalopoulos Collection, features works by more than 30 renowned contemporary artists dating mainly from the 1980s and 1990s, covering the most salient artistic movements of these decades.

The collection includes works by eminent artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, and Martin Kippenberger, as well as younger artists like Paul Chan and Alexandros Psychoulis.

The exhibition draws its title from Nikos Kazantzakis' philosophic work Salvatores Dei (The Saviours of God) that describes life as the luminous interval between abysses. It will be on display from April 12 to September 11.

The above photo shows Paul McCarthy's sculpture, titled Tomato Head (Burgundy) from 1994.

For more information, please visit:

Source: Greek News Agenda

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Friday, May 13, 2011, Washington D.C. will experience a unique cultural collaboration, "A Mediterranean Splendor of Music and Dance". AndaluciaCrete: A Bridging of Two Cultures presents a fascinating encounter between two exquisite Mediterranean cultures. The performance is the result of a convocation of dancers and musicians from both Andalucia and Crete that took place in 2007, in "Haroupomilos", Panormo, Crete. The performers found common ground in their musical traditions, and their collaborative efforts culminated in a touring performance that enchanted audiences all over Greece. Now, music and dance enthusiasts in Washington, D.C. will have the opportunity to see this memorable performance.

Friday, May 13, 2011 at 8pm: Historic Lincoln Theater, 1215 U St. NW, Washington D.C.

To purchase, tickets, please visit or visit the Lincoln Theater Box Office Monday-Friday from 10am-6pm.

A Tribute to the Island of Samos

The Embassy of Greece is proud to present a tribute to the enchanting island of Samos! On Thursday, April 14, from 6:30pm-8:30pm, the Embassy of Greece celebrates the island with a book presentation on Thomas Bahler's novel, Anything is Possible.
Anything is Possible re-imagines the life and times of a man whose stories have guided kings and peasants, grownups and children, for over 2600 years. This man is Aesop. He was born on the island of Samos, just off the Ionian coast, in 620 BCE. Time and place came together for Aesop as he rose from the depths of slavery to serve as ambassador to the wealthiest and most powerful king of the day, Creosus of Lydia. When Aesop was born, Miletus and Samos had become the most active and profitable ports in Ionia. International trade was flourishing, and merchants from as far away as India and Egypt, together with representatives from the most powerful city-states, came together in Samos. Thus it was that Ionia became the birthplace of philosophy. Sharing thoughts and stories from their diverse cultural heritage, these traders gave birth to what we now regard as "new thought". The slave Aesop transcended the boundaries of his position to embrace that new way of thinking and to weave into it stories that would help shape the future of mankind. The fable enables the listener to discover the meaning behind the story, and that is why Aesop's enduring humanity lives with us today.

The event will also feature a screening of Panos Zenelis' 2009 documentary on Samos and its traditional products. Samos continues to provide prodigious amounts of olive oil, wine, black pine, cheese, fish, sheep, and goats, just as it did in the time of Aesop. Time has hardly changed the flavors of Samos. Why? Well, if it works, it tends to keep working! Come and pay Samos a visit as Aesop unveils his story. You might just find yourself in two places at once: Then and Now.

The event will take place at the Embassy of Greece, located at 2217 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington D.C., 20008. Please RSVP to

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Remembering Odysseas Elytis

The year 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Odysseas Elytis, the Greek Nobel laureate poet. It has been named “Elytis Year” by Greece’s Culture and Tourism Ministry to honor the contribution of the artist to Greece’s and the world’s poetic scene.

Odysseas Elytis was born in Crete on November 2nd, 1911, although his family descended from the island of Lesbos in the northeastern Aegean Sea. Although he studied law at the University of Athens, he did not later follow this vocation. What he instead became known for was his distinct style of writing poetry, which contributed to the poetical reform that began right before the outbreak of World War II. In contrast to other Greek poets, who placed their emphasis on Ancient Greece and Byzantium, Elytis’ poems focused on contemporary Hellenism. Elytis spent several years in Paris, at first of his own accord and then in self-exile from 1969 to 1972, when a military junta was ruling Greece. There, he attended philology and literature lessons in the Sorbonne and was acquainted with and well-received by top members of the avant-garde, like Matisse, Picasso, and Chagall. Later on in his life, Elytis also wrote essays about contemporary poetry and art problems. However, his most renowned piece is arguably the poetic work Axion Esti, written in 1959, which was set to music by the famous Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. Even though Elytis’ poems are written in Greek, they have become known to a wider audience due to their translations into 11 languages and, of course, Elytis’ reception of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979. His death on March 18, 1996, was mourned by the whole of Greece.

One of the major events in Greece that will be held during “Elytis Year” to commemorate the poet will take place in the Athens Concert Hall during the fall of 2011. On October 31st to November 1st, a conference titled “Odysseas Elytis: The 20th Century in the Poetry of Elytis. The Poetry of Elytis in the 21st Century” will present his poetry and explore new manners of interpreting his works. On November 2nd, the 100th anniversary of his birth, and also on the following night, there will be poetry readings accompanied by the music of Georgios Kouroupos.

Special events to commemorate what would have been Elytis' 100th birthday:

- In the month of march, the National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) launched a nation-wide poetry campaign in Elytis' honor. This campaign included poetry readings by famous modern Greek poets at different bookstores, as well as the creation of "poetry corners" in the libraries of Thessaloniki where visitors could read about Elytis and view audio-visual materials. Throughout Athens, Thessaloniki, Mytilini, and Zakynthos, public transportation vehicles were decorated with verses of Elytis' poems for the public to read and enjoy.

- The Culture and Tourism Ministry of Greece declared the year 2011 the year of Elytis in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Famous Greeks: Comedian Tina Fey

Many of us recognize Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live and films such as Date Night, but how many of us also knew that she is Greek-American? Born to an Irish-German father and a Greek mother, Ms. Fey is one of the most well-known female comedians in the media today.

After college, Ms. Fey moved to Chicago where she took classes at Second City, a comedy enterprise famous for improvisational comedy. She spent several years with Second City, and it was through the company that she was discovered by the producers of Saturday Night Live. Only a few years after working for SNL, Ms. Fey became the first female head writer in the history of the show. She also began appearing on the show and was famous for her Weekend Update sketch with Jimmy Fallon. Since her beginnings with improvisational theater in Chicago, Ms. Fey's career has led her to work on a number of feature films and to create the very popular NBC comedy series 30 Rock.

Tina Fey married her husband Jeff Richmond in 2001, in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, and the couple have a daughter, Alice.

Recently, Ms. Fey penned a humorous memoir of her life, titled Bossypants, which chronicles her life from her humble beginnings in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania to the launching of her career in Chicago. In the book, she uses her gifts for comedy and writing to entertain her readers, as well as give them an insight into her life.

Greece's Hot Springs

Imagine being able to cure your ailments without a visit to the doctor, or feeling years younger in a single day. This is not just wishful thinking; the myriads of hot springs scattered throughout Greece can do just that. The discovery of their therapeutic properties dates back to ancient Greece, when the historian Herodotus mentioned them in his texts and Hippocrates analyzed their mineral waters. Even though there are hundreds of springs in Greece, a few of them are especially noteworthy, attracting locals and foreigners alike each year.

For those in Athens who desire a quick escape from the noise and bustle of the city, the hot springs at Lake Vouliagmeni are a perfect option. Only a half hour away from the capital, the lake remains at a temperature of 68 to 80°F even in the winter. It was formed when an underground cave collapsed, which explains the beautiful rock formations that surround the shores. Lake Vouliagmeni’s waters contain salts and metals, mainly sulfur; for those looking for a relief from their afflictions, the waters are said to help with rheumatism, gynecological problems, arthritis, eczema, and even headaches.

Another famed location of hot springs is the “island” of Euboea, which can actually be reached by car from the Greek mainland. More specifically, the city of Edipsos on the northern part of the island has several hot mineral springs that were known even to Aristotle. There, the tourist can enjoy a stay in one of the hotels that cater to those visiting the hot springs. The hotels themselves offer spa treatments, which can add to the benefits of bathing in the natural waters. The foreigner may be surprised to learn that Thermopylae is not only known as the famed battle site between Leonidas’ Spartans and the Persians in 480 BC, but also for its mineral springs. In fact, “Thermopylae” in Greek can be translated as “hot gates.” A small waterfall with hot spring water is located right across from the statue of Leonidas, allowing the visitor both a glimpse into the past and the promise of a more restful future.

Of course, these are not the only hot springs in Greece. It is also worth visiting those of Loutraki, where Apollo and Hera were worshipped, those in Aridaia and Agistro, located in northern Greece, and finally the famous radioactive waters on the island of Ikaria. Whichever ones you choose, it is certain that the warm waters and calming environment will leave you both physically and mentally refreshed.

This post is based off of Heidi Fuller-Love’s article in the Los Angeles Times, titled Greece's soothing hot springs.

Friday, April 1, 2011


This month, the Embassy of Greece, the Greek Film Center, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece team up with the Avalon Theater in Washington, D.C. to present the Greek film Quiet Days of August.

April 6, 2011 - 8:00PM
Quiet Days of August
(Isyhes meres tou Augoustou)

The figure of a woman at a lighted window, two glances in the empty compartment of the subway, the voice of an unknown man on the telephone, trigger off a human relationship. Three stories about life in Athens in August that are linked by loneliness, the need for human contact and the full moon.

Directed by Pantelis Voulgaris - Not Rated - 108 Min. - in Greek & French with English subtitles

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: