Contact: Christina Bianco

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For Immediate Release



Sopranos Anna Pirozzi, Catherine Foster, Vassiliki Karayanni, and Nina Minasyan

perform the arias Maria Callas sang at the iconic venue


Conductor Philippe Auguin leads the Greek National Opera Orchestra

Maria Callas at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 1957

Photo by Dimitris Charisiadis from the photographic archive of the Benaki Museum

ATHENS, GREECE (JULY 31, 2023)As part of its ongoing centennial tribute to Maria Callas, The Greek National Opera presents Callas at the Herodium on September 16, featuring the repertoire the legendary soprano performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 1944 and 1957. Internationally-renowned opera singers Anna Pirozzi, Catherine Foster, Vassiliki Karayanni, and Nina Minasyan pay tribute to Callas’s remarkable talent and leave their own mark on the iconic venue with this special tribute, led by conductor Philippe Auguin. The program features arias from composers Kalomiris, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Donizetti, and Thomas, and celebrates the timeless legacy of Maria Callas at the historic venue that she helped make famous.

The GNO’s Callas at the Herodium is sponsored by the PPC (Public Power Corporation). This tribute program is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [] to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach. 

Maria Callas's legacy in Greece is deeply rooted in her performances at the iconic Odeon of Herodes Atticus. In 1944, before she left Athens for New York, she sang the role of Smaragda in The Masterbuilder by Manolis Kalomiris, and Leonora in Beethoven's Fidelio, both under the baton of acclaimed conductors and directors. Thirteen years later, in 1957, she returned to the same venue to give a legendary recital as part of the Athens Festival, showcasing her vocal range and virtuosity in arias from iconic operas such as Tristan und Isolde, La forza del destino, Il Trovatore, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Hamlet.

The Greek National Opera’s 2023 tribute gala on September 16, the anniversary of Maria Callas’s passing, will honor her legacy with performances of the same repertoire. Appearing are the Italian dramatic soprano Anna Pirozzi, who triumphed in her recent debut in the title role of Cherubini’s Medea at the GNO; dramatic soprano and Bayreuth Festival favorite Catherine Foster; internationally-acclaimed Greek coloratura soprano Vassiliki Karayanni; and sought-after Armenian coloratura soprano Nina Minasyan. Conducting is the French maestro Philippe Auguin.

“She rose brilliantly to the challenge, conquering the title role of Medea – and, moreover, with the perfect vocal imperfection so reminiscent of the singular timbre of Maria Callas’s voice” is how French magazine Diapason reviewed Anna Pirozzi’s GNO debut in the title role of Cherubini’s Medea in April, in the production that launched the house’s major tribute to Maria Callas. Pirozzi has carved out a singular career path since her 2012 debut as Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Teatro Regio in Torino and her acclaimed performance as Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Riccardo Muti. She has since appeared at the world’s major opera houses, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, Opéra national de Paris, the Vienna Staatsoper, Teatro Real in Madrid, El Liceu in Barcelona, Arena di Verona, the San Francisco Opera, and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Dramatic soprano Catherine Foster, known for her work in Wagnerian repertoire, makes her Greek debut as part of the Callas at the Herodium opera gala, just months before her appearance in the upcoming GNO production of Die Walküre, and returns to the GNO next summer as the title role in Turandot as well. She is considered one of the most important soloists to have appeared over the last decade at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival, this season performing the roles of Isolde and Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung and Die Walküre. Her 2022/23 season included debut appearances at the Victorian Opera in Melbourne in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Elektra; the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples as Isolde; and her Royal Opera House debut in the title role of Puccini’s Turandot, staged by Andrei Serban. Foster has appeared at the world’s major opera houses, including those in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, Amsterdam, Washington, Budapest, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Helsinki, Tokyo, and Shanghai, to name but a few.

GNO soprano Vassiliki Karayanni, who performed the three female lead roles in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, as well as the role of Glauce in Medea, has also starred in lead roles at Megaron – the Athens Concert Hall and the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. She has appeared at the world’s most major opera houses, festivals, and concert halls, including the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), La Scala in Milan, Komische Oper Berlin, Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf), Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Cadogan Hall, Carnegie Hall, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, and the Royal Danish Opera, as well as the New National Theatre and Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Tokyo, and Biwako Hall in Shiga, Japan. Karayanni has performed such demanding roles as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte the title role of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula, Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. She won the Union of Greek Critics for Drama and Music’s Best New Artist Award in 2001, and has recorded Cimarosa’s Il marito disperato and Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Up-and-coming coloratura soprano Nina Minasyan’s impressive career trajectory includes her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York this October. Born in Armenia, she became a soloist at the Yerevan Conservatory Opera Studio in 2010, and the following year joined the program for young artists at the Bolshoi Theatre, where she launched her professional career. She has distinguished herself in performances as Lucia di Lammermoor, the Queen of the Night, Gilda, Violetta, Amina, Norina, and Adina (to name a few) at such major opera houses as the Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper and Staatsoper Berlin, Opéra national de Paris, Opéra national de Lyon, La Monnaie in Brussels, and Teatro Real in Madrid, as well as at the opera houses in Amsterdam, Zurich, Munich, Dresden, and Hamburg, and at the Arena di Verona, Aix-en-Provence, and Glyndebourne Festivals.

French conductor Philippe Auguin is former Music Director of the Washington National Opera. Auguin, who studied in Vienna and Florence, has appeared at most of the major opera houses in Europe and America, including the Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the opera houses in Zurich, Bologna, and Barcelona, and in Australia, Japan, and China, as well as at the Salzburg Festival and the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

About the GNO tribute to Maria Callas

To mark the centennial of Maria Callas’s birth in 2023, the Greek National Opera has programmed and is presenting a series of events in honor of the great 20th century soprano, curated by Giorgos Koumendakis, the Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera. The tribute launched in April with a new production of Cherubini’s Medea, and continued in May with the unveiling in the GNO Foyer of From Callas to Medea – An Installation in Three Acts, the first part of the Unboxing Callas arts program. Special events from September through December 2023 include the Callas at the Herodium opera gala, Unboxing Callas: An Archival Exploration of the Dimitris Pyromallis Collection and the GNO Archive exhibition at the National Library of Greece,  screening of the documentary  Mary, Mariana, Maria The Unsung Greek Years of Callas, the video recital Maria Callas in Greece, 1937-1945 – The Repertoire Never Heard…, and the Visualising the Voice of Maria Callas educational workshop in partnership with the Digital Media Lab (DMLab) of the Technical University of Crete. 

Giorgos Koumendakis notes:

“With this GNO program, presented to mark the centennial of Maria Callas, we hope to showcase her connections to our opera house, but also to connect younger generations with the legendary Callas as a shining example of talent and hard work, of dedication and impeccability and brilliance.”

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has inducted celebrations marking the Maria Callas centennial into the official list of anniversaries to be commemorated by UNESCO in 2023. This annual list includes eminent personalities honored by UNESCO for their contributions to the development of the sciences, education, culture, and communications, with a view to recognizing and promoting their universality and importance.

Opera gala

Callas at the Herodium

September 16, 2023

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Starts at: 8:30 pm

Conductor: Philippe Auguin

Soloists: Anna Pirozzi, Catherine Foster, Vassiliki Karayanni, Nina Minasyan

With the Orchestra of the Greek National Opera


Manolis Kalomiris, The Masterbuilder

— Overture

— “The sun, the sun”

Smaragda’s aria from Part II – Vassiliki Karayanni

Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio

— Overture

— “Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? … Komm, Hoffnung” / “Monster! Where are you hurrying? … Come, hope”

Leonore’s recitative and aria from Act I – Catherine Foster

Ambroise Thomas, Hamlet

— “À vos jeux, mes amis” / “To your games, my friends”

Ophélie’s “mad scene” from Act IV – Nina Minasyan

Giuseppe Verdi, La forza del destino

— Overture

— “Pace, pace, mio Dio” / “Peace, peace, my God”

Leonora’s aria from Act IV – Anna Pirozzi

Gaetano Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor

— “Regnava nel silenzio” / “Reigning in the silence”

Lucia’s aria from Act I – Vassiliki Karayanni

Giuseppe Verdi, Il trovatore

— “D’amor sull’ali rosee” / “On the rosy wings of love”

Leonora’s aria from Part IV – Anna Pirozzi

Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde

— Prelude and Isolde’s “Liebestod” – Catherine Foster

Ticket prices: €15, €20, €25, €35, €45, €55 | Students: €12

Tickets go on sale: 25 July 2023 | Available to buy from the GNO Box Office at the SNFCC

(+30 2130885700 / 9.00-21.00 daily) & online via

Maria Callas Tribute Sponsor: PPC (Public Power Company)

Lead Donor of the GNO & Maria Callas Tribute Donor:



Founded in 1939, the Greek National Opera is a public body and the sole opera house in Greece. It produces and stages operas, musical theater, operettas, and ballets, and multi-disciplinary productions for its two stages at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Stavros Niarchos Hall and the Alternative Stage, as well as at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an open-air theater in the center of Athens. The company’s repertory covers four centuries of lyrical theater, from the works of Claudio Monteverdi to those of contemporary composers. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera were both founded in 1939 alongside the opera company, then a part of the Royal Theatre, and a Children’s Chorus was founded in 2012. In addition to its opera programming, the GNO also encompasses the GNO Professional School of Dance, as well as education and community programs aimed at all age groups.

The GNO is one of Europe’s most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talent and inspires large and diverse audiences. Led by artistic director Giorgos Koumendakis and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [], its mission is to offer audiences high caliber productions by presenting operas, ballets, operettas, operas for children, and music recitals, among other events. The GNO’s main source of funding is the Greek State and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Over 60% of its annual budget is covered by state funding, with the rest coming from ticket proceeds, private sponsorship, and grants. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is the Greek National Opera's biggest donor and to date, its grants to the GNO amount to €27.5 million.

A turning point in its history came in 2017 when the GNO relocated to a new state-of-the-art building at the architecturally striking Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which was conceived, designed, constructed, and equipped with a substantial grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Following completion, the SNFCC was delivered to the Greek state and the public in February 2017 through the SNF’s largest grant initiative to date, totaling €618 million. Assisted by a €5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the GNO relocated from Athens’ Olympia Theatre to the SFNCC and the two, purpose-built theaters designed by Renzo Piano, doubling its audience capacity to 1,400 seats in the opera hall and also doubling its ticket revenues.  

The hall’s inaugural production in October 2017 was Strauss’ Elektra, starring the celebrated Greek mezzo Agnes Baltsa as Klytaemnestra. In 2019 a major grant of €20 million was announced by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to support the implementation of a four-year programming and development plan that will enhance the artistic outreach of the GNO and increase the promotion of its work overseas. In 2020 the GNO celebrated its 80th anniversary, commissioning and presenting works to reintroduce itself to the Greek and global audience through its new artistic identity and mission. This programming has included, among others: Verdi’s Don Carlo, a co-production of the Royal Opera House, London, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Norwegian National Opera ,Oslo, directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner; Berg’s Wozzeck directed by Olivier Py; Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk directed by Fanny Ardant; Marina Abramović’s 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a co-production with Opéra national de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro di San Carlo; Verdi’s Otello, a co-production with Festspiel Baden-Baden directed by Robert Wilson; Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a co-production with the Göteborg Opera and the Royal Danish Opera directed by John Fulljames; Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman, a co-production with La Monnaie de Munt, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski; Verdi’s Fallstaff, directed by the artistic director of the Glyndebourne Festival Stephen Langridge; Verdi’s Rigoletto, directed by the artistic director of the Athens Festival Katerina Evangellatos; and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly directed by director of the Théâtre du Châtelet Olivier Py.


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