2024 Athens and Epidaurus Festival Must-See Highlights

2024 Athens and Epidaurus Festival Must-See Highlights

Now in its 69th year, the Athens Epidaurus Festival is one of the oldest continuously running festivals in Europe, transforming Athens’ ancient and modern architectural heritage into majestic performance venues. Throughout its storied history, the Festival has welcomed some of the greatest music, dance, and theatre artists of the international and local scene. The festival embraces a plurality in its programming, celebrating classical opera and theatre while being a springboard for contemporary art and site-specific performances. Artistic Director Katerina Evangelatos brings a whiff of adventure and audacity, crafting a rich 2024 programme with an international outreach in mind while seeking unconventional ways of showcasing Festival venues and extending the Festival’s artistic events well into the winter.



Tosca by Giacomo Puccini

For another year, the Greek National Opera inaugurates the Odeon of Herodes Atticus programme, presenting one of the most beloved operas, Puccini’s Tosca, alongside internationally renowned stars. Hugo de Ana’s Tosca (revival directed by Katerina Petsatodi) is enthralling, intense,and entirely consistent with the spirit of the composer, as well as the historical context to which the libretto refers. The impressive sets –a huge crucifix, a high altar, an atelier–are accompanied by spectacular visualsof Rome’s monuments, religious symbols,and videos that adda cinematic aspectto the production.

When: 1, 2, 6, 11 June

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus


For the first time in a decade, ANOHNI presents a series of concerts with the Johnsons, joined by nine musicians including Julia Kent (cello), Maxim Moston (violin), Doug Wieselman (multi-instrumentalist), Gael Rakotondrabe (piano), Leo Abrahams (guitarist) and Jimmy Hogarth (guitarist/producer). Born in the UK and raised in Amsterdam and California, ANOHNI relocated to NYC in her late teens, forming her group the Johnsons in 1998 and establishing a unique path as an artist with a focus on animist and eco-feminist themes. ANOHNI’s musical journey has spanned genres –from electronic experimental to avant-classical, dance, and soul. Achieving breakthrough success in 2005 with I Am a Bird Now(2005), she garnered the UK’s Mercury Award. Releases since include The Crying Light(2009), Swanlights(2010), and live albums Cut the World(2012) and TURNING(2014). ANOHNI’s sixth studio album, My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross(2023), continues to examine societal structures, spirituality, and our relationships with the biosphere. The record was named album of the year by The New Yorker. Politikenawarded it five hearts and called it ‘a delicate flame ignited by the soul music of the past,’ while GAFFA characterized it as ‘an otherworldly experience.’

When: 13 June

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus


EXIT ABOVE–afterthe tempest

One of the most important creators of contemporary dance, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker returns to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus to present EXIT ABOVE, her new work that has been praised by critics at all major European festivals (Avignon, Vienna, Rome). A choreography to live music for thirteen performers, where walking, an act familiar to us all, meets the blues. The work illuminates how the blues builds community and a sense of togetherness in a demanding choreography that gradually engulfs the stage with its explosive energy. De Keersmaeker brings together in this work the wizard of sound Jean-Marie Aerts, the captivating performance of Meskerem Mees, an up-and-coming Flemish singer-songwriter of Ethiopian origin, and the guitarist Carlos Garbin.

When: 25 June

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Subset Festival

New Music Festival at the Athens Conservatoire

The Subset Festival, the multifaceted music platform launched last year, held by the Athens Epidaurus Festival in co-production with the Athens Conservatoire, returns refreshed but always with a focus on the dialogue between contemporary music and new media. Named after a mathematical term (subset ⊆), the Subset Festival together diverse versions of contemporary musical creation, incorporating a wide variety of artistic trends. From 10 to 14 June, the renovated Conservatoire venues will host musical ensembles and soloists, established and up-and-coming alike, both from Greece and around the world, visual and sound installations and performances, as well as open call workshops.

When: 10-14 June

Where: Athens Conservatoire

Indie Playground Festival

The Indie Playground Festival, organised last year by the Athens Epidaurus Festival in collaboration with the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre and United We Fly for the first time, returns this year at the industrial space Playground 260. For two nights, the open-airspace behind Peiraios260 is transformed into a stage and invites us to discover the new blood of contemporary independent Greek music. The line-up includes well-known and up-and-coming names of the Greek indie and alternative music scene: Larry Gus, PutaVolcano, AMKA, Whereswilder, Prompt, Kooba Tercu, Metaman, Vassilina.

When: 1 & 2 June

Where: Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre


Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

Select lyric artists of international renown join the Athens State Orchestra under the experienced baton of celebrated Estonian-born American conductor Neeme Järvi to present Ludwig van Beethoven’s magnificent Symphony No.9 to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus audience. This immortal masterpiece, undoubtedly one of the highest achievements of the human spirit, changed the course of symphonic music like no other. An unsurpassed legacy of beauty and truth, this work represents the most emblematic musical expression of humanism; it is a symbol of freedom, dignity, and brotherhood of peoples.

When: 28 June

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus


Elizabeth Costello / J. M. Coetzee. Seven Lectures and Five Moral Tales

Based on J.M. Coetzee’s works Elizabeth Costello, A Slow Man, and Moral Tales. Can art save the world? Or is the desire of artists to ‘speak’ through art and make an impact simply utopian? This is the question posed by Elizabeth Costello, the fictional heroine of South African Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, to her creator. Yet, Elizabeth Costello is not just a fictional literary character. One could argue that she is Coetzee’s artistic alter ego: speaking on his behalf, she suffers the criticism and wrath of his readers and critics. According to Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello invades his imagination and writings, and then uses his voice to talk about philosophy, the environment, social and existential issues, or to raise awareness of animal abuse, social injustice, and the exclusion of the elderly and disabled. She is something of a ghost, always returning to haunt her creator. The beloved Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski constantly makes reference to Coetzee’s work: Costello seems to be haunting Warlikowski’s theatre, as she has already appeared in five of his performances so far –at times as herself and at times as an allusion. However, this is the first time that he devotes an entire play to her, making Costello the central character in his new performance.

His new production premieres in spring 2024 at Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr and after that will be presented in Barcelona, Liege, Paris, and Stuttgart among others. The Festival is a proud co-producer of this work and has the privilege of presenting it first, immediately after its world premiere in Poland.23

When: 5-7 June

Where: Peiraios 260



C la vie

The choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly sees dance as political and social action. Born and raised in Burkina Faso, West Africa, he is well aware of social inequalities and poverty; his choreographies are born out of contestation, desire for rebellion, and hope. In his new work, he employs the rich tradition of African culture to create a modern-day rite of initiation and invites us to take part in the dismantling of the 27 old world. In this ritual, there are no trials for the hero to overcome, but a single challenge: how to coexist with others. Seven dancers, a singer, and a musician explore alternative ways of living together that bridge the gap between cultures. In a world swirling towards self-destruction, the only antidote is the joy of coexistence.

When: 12 & 13 June

Where: Peiraios 260




An haute couture house receives an unusual order: to make the wedding dress of a princess of the royal family of England. For eight months, various people –the dressmaker in Paris, the lace weaver in Normandy, the embroiderer in Mumbai–work on the secret project, unaware of what the final product will be. They all pledge not to reveal a single thing. And yet on stage we watch their fate and their dreams unfold. Caroline Guiela Nguyen, whom we met at the Festival in 2019 with the enchanting Saigon and in 2021 with FRATERNITY, A Fantastic Tale, weaves upon the toilsome process of creation a story about violence, both institutional and domestic, and about the tears that lie behind beauty. Lacrimais the first act of a planned repertory of works that will form a ‘contemporary history of tears’.

When: 13 & 14 June

Where: Peiraios 260


The Rite of Spring

Based on the choreography by Pina Bausch. Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky is one of the most seminal ballets of the 20th century, which Pina Bausch reintroduced to us in an iconic 1975 performance. It is her ‘reading’ that inspired the Catalan avant-garde creator Roger Bernat to create this performance, which is a game and a choreography all at once. The work has been performed in dozens of countries around the world, from Brazil and Canada to Egypt, Finland, and Japan.

When: 28-30 June

Where: Peiraios 260




Works by Strauss, Mozart, Mahler

The Greek conductor Vassilis Christopoulos began his tenure as chief conductor of the Graz Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra a few months ago, taking over the reins of one of Europe’s most historic opera houses. The Festival is delighted to welcome the internationally acclaimed conductor and ‘his’ orchestra together with the explosive pianist Alexia Mouza. The works in the programme, in one way or another, allude to Vienna’s musical tradition: the charming Johann Strauss’ Overture to Die Fledermaus (The Bat)is followed by one of Mozart’s most renowned and treasured works, the Concerto No. 23 in A major for piano and orchestra. The second part is dedicated to a landmark work of late musical romanticism, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

When: 4 July

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus


In Sting’s distinguished career, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has received 17 Grammy Awards and sold 100 million albums worldwide from his combined work as one of the most distinctive solo artists in the world and former front man of The Police. A composer, singer-songwriter, actor, author and activist, Sting 16 also has received a Golden Globe, four Oscar nominations, a Tony nomination, Billboard Magazine’s Century Award and Kennedy Center Honors. His support for human rights organizations such as the Rainforest Fund, Amnesty International, and Live Aid mirrors his art in its universal outreach. Along with wife Trudie Styler, Sting founded the Rainforest Fund in 1989 to protect both the world’s rainforests and the indigenous people living there. You can find out more at www.sting.com

At the Odeon of Herodes Atticus concert, Sting’s special guest will be the multi-talented songwriter and performer Giordana Angi.

When: 5 July

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus



Works by Tchaikovsky and Bartók

Thanks to a fiery combination of talent, virtuosity, expressivity, and brilliance, Georgian piano superstar Katia Buniatishvili is always able to captivate her audiences wherever she appears, performing highly demanding works and delivering genuinely passionate and inspired readings. This year we welcome her to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus to perform perhaps the most popular piano concerto of all time, Tchaikovsky’s No. 1. Her companions in this melodic journey through the romantic composer’s world, the Athens State Orchestra and the acclaimed conductor Loukas Karytinos, will transform themselves into… soloists in Bella Bartók’s iconic Concerto for Orchestra, the Hungarian mastermind’s most impressive symphonic work; vibrant, uplifting, and bordering on frenzy, promising a most enthralling evening!

When: 12 July

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus



The legendary jazz musician Charles Lloyd returns to Greece to share the stage once again with Maria Farantouri, a decade and a half after the historic ‘Athens Concert’, which captivated the Odeon of Herodes Atticus audience in 2010, and was released shortly afterwards on a hugely successful album. The great American saxophonist and composer, who has just celebrated his 86th birthday with the release of his new album The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow, brings to the Roman Odeon three internationally renowned soloists: Jason Moranon the piano, Larry Grenadier on the double bass and Brian Blade on the drums. The paths of jazz meet with Greek musical tradition and Mikis Theodorakis in a concert of fascinating musical amalgams.

When: 18 July

Where: Odeon of Herodes Atticus




In her recent works and research, Tzeni Argyriou has been treating dance as an expression of the human need for contact and as a means of reconnecting with nature and the community –the already-existing one and that created on the spot at each gathering. She is inspired by the legacy of traditional and folk Greek dances as well as contemporary choreographic practices and she also assigns a central role to the relationship between dance and live music. Can dance today express the problems, the questions, and the need of modern humans for sociability? Dancers and musicians shape a visual landscape, making a record of sounds and movements that carry memories of dances from the depths of time but also from the present, and gradually widening the concentric circles of a collective celebration. Can we invent new dances that express us and new rituals that unite us? What would such a celebration look like? Could we all ‘lend a hand’ in creating it? After all, this is what ‘midati’ in the villages of Epirus means: the gathering to create, with everyone’s help, something needed by the community. The MIDATI project was born in the light of these questions, putting at the centre the concepts of community, collectivity ,and solidarity.

When: 3 & 4 July

Where: Peiraios 260




Having won over the Festival audience with his sharp eye for contemporary social issues and his spectacular on-stage novel of manners, world-renowned Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó, after Imitation of Life in 2018 and Pieces of a Woman in 2021, returns to Athens with his Hungarian independent company Proton Theatre and Parallax. This play too is poignant and extremely topical: taking a Hungarian family as its starting point, it touches on the different approaches to the experience of Jewishness from generation to generation. Grandma, a Holocaust survivor, who in her life has learned to hide her Jewish identity, comes into conflict with her daughter, who, living in Berlin in the 1990s, tries to use this identity to enroll her son in a better school. However, as he grows up, he wants to shed any identity and wishes to belong nowhere else than the gay community he has consciously chosen. But in a society in crisis, with the sharpening of social divisions and the rise of the far right in Europe, is it possible to remain neutral? How can one separate the assertion of one’s own diversity from a broader political stance?

When:  14 & 15 July

Where: Peiraios 260



Ta skylia / The dogs

Inspired by Aristophanes’ Birds . A group of ‘dogs’ appears on stage as another ancient comedy Chorus. Their mission is to unravel the events surrounding the brutal abuse and killing of a beautiful pet dog in a rural Greek town, next to an ancient oracle. Which version is true?  Was the killer a human, as was originally rumoured, or was this domestic dog a victim of a pack of other, stray dogs, as the authorities finally concluded?  Will the detective dogs that have been sneaking in from different corners of the world manage to discover the truth? Are dogs capable of delivering justice better than humans? Could abused animals finally find justice in a dog state, freed from human authority? Having won over the Greek and European audiences with his delightfully poignant The Republic of Baklava, Anestis Azas returns to the Festival with an original text co-written again with Gerasimos Bekas and Michalis Pitidis. This time, the play is inspired by Aristophanes’ Birds with a zoomorphic Chorus of birds, which founds Cloud Cuckoo Land, an ideal state between the world of humans and that of gods. Based on a true story from recent crime news and using the documentary theatre method, a political allegory is developed on stage on the issue of social violence that is increasingly being perpetrated against the weakest.

When:  19-21 July

Where: Peiraios 260 H


Bless This Mess

Winner of the European Prix Jardin d’Europe2016, with a significant career in the European dance scene and loyal fans in Greece, the international Greek choreographer, dancer and musician Katerina Andreou, returns to the Festival with a performance supported by some of the most prestigious institutions of contemporary cultural production, theatres, and festivals. In an attempt to regain strength but also a space of confidence for indispensable resistance, Katerina Andreou asks herself the question: how can confusion be turned into a tool, a strategy for creation? Bless This Mess, Andreou’s first group piece, expresses a person’s dynamic and irrepressible desire to move with others in order to find a stability of position, a voice that gives courage and energy, a sense of togetherness against chaos and isolation. This work leaves room for play that makes moments of relief and joy emerge.

When:  23-25 July

Where: Peiraios 260 E


What We Owe Democracy

Three-day platform of actions in co-production with the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus

Ethics, justice, democracy, and the environment are always issues in the contemporary political landscape, shaken by distrust in the public sphere and disbelief in the potential to represent the ‘I’ within the community. Furthermore, the new realities emerging concerning issues of gender identities, bioethics, and the environment make it imperative to redefine the ‘We’ and to encourage social participation and inclusion. Focusing on the triptych Health –Language –Food, the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus proposes a platform of creative collaboration between about 30 artists aspiring to raise awareness, mobilise citizens, and create synergies. This highly aspiring action engages four social foundations* that address distinct population groups (people on the autism spectrum, people with special skills, children, etc.). The programme will take place in three different landmark venues, each corresponding to its different aspects.

5 July –Sotiria Hospital

6 July –National Library of Greece

7 July –Keratsini Sea Food Market




Based on Euripides, it is quite likely that no other Ancient Drama heroine has been as staggering as Medea. What if Medea were alive today? Inspired by the story of a Kansas doctor who killed her husband and two of their three children in the mid-1990s, distinguished Australian filmmaker Simon Stone offers a contemporary reading of the drama, featuring the acting ensemble of the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, one of the strongest theatre companies in Europe. The core of the myth remains unchanged and is ‘kneaded’ against the backdrop of today’s middle-class America. Having just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital after a difficult divorce, Anna hopes for a reconciliation with her husband Lucas, despite having previously tried to poison him. Their reunion is expected to be disastrous as their home turns into a battlefield. A world-class artistic event, Simon Stone’s Medea has been performed on the world’s most important stages (London, New York, Amsterdam, Madrid, etc.) to rave reviews. It premiered in 2014 in the Netherlands, with Ivo van Hove’s company Toneelgroep Amsterdam (the predecessor of Internationaal Theater Amsterdam) and Marieke Heebink in the leading role (Theo d’Or award). Although Stone is familiar to the Greek audience as a writer, this is the first time we get to see a performance directed by him.75

When:  9-11 July

Where: Pallas Theatre


TIMOFEY KULYABIN: Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides

After the masterful Three Sisters(2018), which will always be remembered for the complete rendition of Chekhov’s play in sign language, the internationally acclaimed director Timofey Kulyabin returns to the Athens Epidaurus Festival, which had introduced him to the Greek audience. Worldwide appreciated for his exceptional poetic perspective, the Russian director will be opening this year’s performances at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus with the Festival’s international production of Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides. Prominent Greek actors and actresses are to give flesh and bone to this stellar artistic project. Iphigenia in Aulis will have its world premiere at Epidaurus. Designed exclusively for the Argolic theatre, this long-awaited production ingeniously brings together a foreign director with Greek performers once again, further consolidating the Festival’s international and extrovert character that is consciously being pursued over the past years.

When:  5 & 6 July

Where: Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus


Not Hecuba

After the triumphant reception of Electra / Orestes directed by Ivo van Hove in 2019, the leading company of Comédie-Française comes back to Epidaurus, this time with the much talked about Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues, the new director of the Avignon Festival. In his first collaboration with Comédie-Française, Tiago Rodriguez takes on the story of Hecuba.  Adjusting it in his ‘head-on’ idiom, he intertwines an ancient human being’s drama with that of a modern-day heroine always on the same ageless canvas–in particular, a Trojan woman’s and a present-day actress and mother’s. After the defeat of Troy, Hecuba has lost everything: her husband, her throne, her freedom, and, what’s most tragical, almost all her children–she is a woman seeking for justice. The tragic myth nonetheless meets the actress’ real life in a gut-wrenching way. Her autistic teenage son suffers abuse in the hands of the staff at the institution he is committed and she trusted. Whereas the parties responsible try to cover up the case, she goes public. Within an idiosyncratic, borderline context, the two worlds are being juxtaposed in a harrowing and shattering concoction of myth andreality, theatre and justice.

The performance will be presented in Epidaurus immediately after its premiere in July at the Avignon Festival.

When:  26 & 27 July

Where: Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

Periodic Exhibition


On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the informal opening of the Epidaurus performances in 1954 with Euripides ’Hippolytus directed by Dimitris Rontiris (National Theatre of Greece) with Alekos Alexandrakis in the title role, the Epidaurus exhibition hall, inaugurated in 2023 thanks to the valuable support of the Ministry of Culture, comes to life again this year with a temporary exhibition dedicated to the figures of Hippolytus and Phaedra. Open to the public throughout the performances at the Argolic theatre, the exhibition presents the iconic heroand heroine as we got to know them at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus during its 69 years of operation. According to the myth, Phaedra, wife of King Theseus, a pawn in the revenge plan of the goddess Aphrodite, falls in love with Hippolytus, son of her husband and the Amazon Hippolyta. Dedicated to the worship of the goddess Artemis, Hippolytus denies Phaedra’s love, with dire consequences.

Precious documents from the archives of the Athens Epidaurus Festival and of many other cultural organisations and theatre companies invite the visitor to a journey through costumes, masks, maquettes, scores, and audiovisual material in a modern exhibition environment. A fascinating retrospective of the productions and performances that captured the momentum of unrequited love in all its forms in the national landmark of Ancient Drama, from the 1950s to the present day.

When:  5 July – 24 August

Where: Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus – Exhibition Hall


On different paths

Eleonora Zouganeli, one of the most significant performers of the new generation, returns to the Festival, after her excellent concert -tribute to Melina Mercouri, which filled the Odeon of Herodes Atticusto capacity in 2014. With an acoustic mood and a band assembled especially for the performance in the stunning Little Theatre of Epidaurus, the charismatic singer will this time wander through the paths of the Greek folk song, starting from Giorgos Mouzakis’ ‘Monopati’, giving new life to select folk and archontorebetiko songs under the guidance of the excellent musician Thomas Konstantinou. An evening full of emotion and memories bridging the past with the present.

When:  26 & 27 July

Where: Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus



Bacchae by Euripides

Euripides composes the Bacchae at the dawn of both the fifth century BC and his own life. This is where he puts Dionysus, the founder of the genre, back on the stage. The god of theatre, otherness, dismemberment and fusion, bliss and destruction, sets up a play that Euripides intended to end with a dismembered body that no one collects.

When:  2 & 3 August

Where: Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus


The Suppliants by Aeschylus

Sixty years after the play’s first staging at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the Karolos Koun Art Theatre in collaboration with the Neos Kosmos Theatre presents Aeschylus’ The Suppliants directed by Marianna Calbari: a poetic and deeply political play at the centre of the modern concern on the concept of asylum in a democratic society –especially when those who are persecuted are women.

When:  23 & 24 August

Where: Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

For detailed programme and additional info, visit aefestival.gr

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