Tuesday, 4 August 2015

At 90, Theodorakis continues to
write soulful and challenging music

Mikis Theodorakis … a concert marks the 90th birthday of the composer who is still writing soulful and politically-challenging scores

Patrick Comerford

A concert honouring the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης), marking his 90th birthday, takes place in Athens tomorrow evening [5 August 2015]. Theodorakis, who was 90 last Wednesday [29 July 2015], is attending the concert that starts at the Concert Hall Garden in Athens at 9 p.m.



As part of the birthday celebrations, the film Recycling Medea by Asteris Koutoulas had its world premiere last week. Koutoulas has been Theodorakis’ music producer and manager abroad since 1986 and has worked with him in many countries.

This film is a hybrid ballet performance music and political documentary film collage, with a poignant relevance given the present political, social, fiscal and economic crises in Greece.

Recycling Medea is a film by Asteris Koutoulas, with music by Mikis Theodorakis, choreography by Renato Zanella and featuring Maria Kousouni as Medea.

The classical Greek tragedy serves as an astute metaphor for current Greek tragedy. Medea kills her own children. Society has turned against its offspring and thus kills their future.

The balletic retelling of a mother murdering her two children, choreographed by Renato Zanello, is based on the play by Euripides and features music by Mikis Theodorakis. Script, sound and dance join force in a powerful film reflecting the desperation of a society that spent all of yesterday turning its children into today’s lost generation.

These protagonists are flanked and contrasted by the disturbingly mild-mannered 15-year-old Bella, who is innocence incarnate but is destroyed by the hand of a hostile and selfish world. Against this background, she seems an almost unreal, fictitious character. Certainly no fiction, on the other hand, are the words of Anne Frank, hidden away in her Amsterdam hideout and filling the pages of her diary, and who lends today’s isolated and trusting Bella her “voice” and thoughts.

Medea, Jason, Bella and Anne Frank, composer and protester Theodorakis, the dancers, the rebelling hooded teenagers, advancing police, the choreographer and camera crew – they all become (in)voluntary actors in this complex tragedy spanning the ages. Recycling Medea has been dedicated to the betrayed youth – and their parents who sacrificed the dreams and future of their own children.

The singer Maria Farantouri, who has worked closely with Theodorakis throughout her career, is on a European tour marking this birthday, with a concert in Istanbul last Sunday (2 August 2015), and concerts next month in Helsinki (23 September), Berlin (25 September), Amsterdam (27 September), Luxembourg (28 September) and Brussels (29 September).

Another celebrated interpreted of the work of the great composer is the singer Soula Birbili (Σούλα Μπιρμπίλη). On the 1974 album Μικρές Κυκλάδες (The Little Cyclades, she recorded Theodorakis’ setting for poems by Odysseas Elytis (Οδυσσέας Ελύτης), including two songs that have been soulfully moving and heart-breaking for all Greeks for over 40 decades, Το τριζόνι (‘The Cricket) and Μαρίνα (‘Marina’).



Το τριζόνι

Κοιμήθηκα κοιμήθηκα
στου γιασεμιού την ευωδιά
Στην ερημιά του φεγγαριού
στο κυματάκι του γιαλού

Οι άνθρωποι μ’ αρνήθηκαν
κανείς δε μου σιμώνει
Μόνο μου κάνει συντροφιά
της νύχτας το τριζόνι:

– Έννοια σου λέει έννοια σου
κι εγώ είμαι δω κοντά σου
Για συντροφιά στην έγνοια σου
και για παρηγοριά σου

Τρι και τρι τρι και τρι
τι πικρή που ‘ναι η ζωή
Τι γλυκιά και τι πικρή
τρι και τρι και τρι και τρι

Κοιμήθηκα κοιμήθηκα
στων Αρχαγγέλων τη σκιά
Στων φύλλων το μουρμουρητό
στων άστρων τον χρυσό γιαλό

Οι άνθρωποι μ’ αρνήθηκαν
κανείς δε μου σιμώνει
Μονάχα μου αποκρίνεται
της νύχτας το τριζόνι:

– Είμαι μικρό πολύ μικρό
μα ‘ναι ο Θεός μεγάλος
Αυτό ποτέ δε θα σ’ το πω
μήτε κανένας άλλος

Τρι και τρι τρι και τρι
τι πικρή που ‘ναι η ζωή
Τι γλυκιά και τι πικρή
τρι και τρι και τρι και τρι.

(από τις Μικρές Κυκλάδες)

The Cricket

I slept, I slept
in the fragrance of the jasmine flowers
In the solitude of the moon
in the little wave of the shore

People rejected me
no one approaches me
Only he keeps me company
at night, the cricket:

– Take care, he says, take care
and I too am here, close to you
For company, in your cares
and to comfort you

Tri and tri and tri and tri
how bitter is life
How sweet and how bitter
Tri and tri and tri and tri

I slept, I slept
in the shadow of the Archangels
in the murmuring of the leaves
on the golden beach of the stars

People rejected me
no one approaches me
Only he responds to me
the cricket of the night:

– I am small, very small
but God is big
That I will never tell you
nor will anyone else

Tri and tri and tri and tri
how bitter is life
How sweet and how bitter
Tri and tri and tri and tri

(from The Little Cyclades; translated by Eva Johanos)



Μαρίνα

Μαρίνα πράσινο μου αστέρι
Μαρίνα φως του αυγερινού
Μαρίνα μου άγριο περιστέρι
Και κρίνο του καλοκαιριού

Δώσε μου δυόσμο να μυρίσω,
Λουίζα και βασιλικό
Μαζί μ’αυτά να σε φιλήσω,
και τι να πρωτοθυμηθώ

Τη βρύση με τα περιστέρια,
των αρχαγγέλων το σπαθί
Το περιβόλι με τ’ αστέρια,
και το πηγάδι το βαθύ

Τις νύχτες που σε σεργιανούσα,
στην άλλη άκρη τ’ ουρανού
Και ν’ ανεβαίνεις σε θωρούσα,
σαν αδελφή του αυγερινού

Μαρίνα πράσινο μου αστέρι
Μαρίνα φως του αυγερινού
Μαρίνα μου άγριο περιστέρι
Και κρίνο του καλοκαιριού

Marina

Marina my green star
Marina light of the morning star
Marina my wild dove
and lily of the summer

Give me mint to smell,
vervaine and basil,
together with these to kiss you,
and what to remember first

The source with the doves,
the sword of the archangels,
the orchard with the stars,
and the deep well

The nights when I took you out walking,
to the other edge of the sky
and I watched you rise
like the sister of the morning star

Marina my green star
Marina light of the morning star
Marina my wild dove
and lily of the summer

(translation: Eva Johanos)