Callas: the conflict for Epidaurus

Georgia Kondyli


The objective of this article is to explore situations that are intimately related to Callas' concerts in Epidaurus. Callas, who had left Greece in 1945 to go to the United States, and hadn't been back since, returned to Athens in 1957 to inaugurate the Festival with two performances at the Herodium in 1957. However, an unpleasant atmosphere had been created against her, because she demanded an enormous amount for the standards of that period! After her appearance at the Athens Festival, Callas, as excepted, did not want to give another concert in Greece. But, in 1959 Κ. Bastias took charge of the administration of the Greek National Opera and proposed Callas to present an opera in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. It is worth noting that since its opening in 1954, the Epidaurus Festival only included ancient Greek drama performances given by the National Theatre of Greece. Performances from other troupes were not allowed. Finally, Callas accepted to present Norma by Bellini and decided to grant her remuneration in order to create a scholarship foundation. After Callas' success in the role of Norma, she returned to Epidaurus a year later to present Medea by Cherubini. At the main time a situation of tension was to begin; Emilios Chourmouzios, the director of the National Theatre, reacted to the performance of Medea, a fact that evokes many questions. Therefore, his reaction is not justified. In fact, he realized that via Callas' performances in the Epidaurus theatre melodrama tended to be established. He saw losing the National Theatre's monopoly in Epidaurus and undoubtedly, the presence of the Diva in Epidaurus was the first step to abolish the monocracy of the Greece National Theater.


Callas; Festival; Epidaurus; Opera; Norma; Medea; Minotis; Bastias; Greek National Opera; Chourmouzios; Greek National Theater

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