For the first time in more than 14 centuries, Rome's Colosseum will open its doors, July 19, to host a theatre show (although of a very different kind from those who were performed in the amphitheatre in Roman times). The National Theatre of Greece will perform the world premiere of Sophocles' Oedipus the King, in a new production directed by Vassilis Papavassileoiu, which will visit New York City next autumn.
The tickets for the opening night, which is one of the main cultural events of the Italian summer, have long been sold out. The President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and Ministry of Culture, Giovanna Melandri, will attend the event.
The Colosseum is one of the most famous monuments in the world. Opened in the year 80 A.D. by Emperor Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of games, the 75,000-seat amphitheatre was in continuous operation for more than four centuries. An accurate computer generated reconstruction of how the Colosseum looked like in the ancient times has recently been seen by audiences worldwide in the feature film "The Gladiator" by Ridley Scott.
In the National Theatre of Greece production, Grigoris Valtinos will play the leading role of Oedipus. The other major roles will be played by Manos Stalakis (the Priest), Stephanos Kyriakidis (Creon), Costas Galanakis (Tiresia) and Genny Gaitanopoulou (Jocasta). The show features sets and costumes by Yorgos Ziakas, music by Dimitris Kamarotos, choreography by Vasso Barbousi and lighting by Antonis Papaconstantinou.
The event has been organized by Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico (Inda), the organization which promotes every two years a festival in the ancient Greek theatre of Siracusa (Sicily). Following the three performances of the National Theatre of Greece, the Colosseum will host Tehran's Dramatic Arts Center which will perform a new mounting of Antigone (July 27-29), and Rome's National Academy of Santa Cecilia, which will perform Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's Oedipus (Aug. 5 and 6). For further information visit the Italian Ministry of Culture website.
--By Stefano Curti