A Greek-Latin collaboration
By Vannessa Hearman
MELBOURNE — Following last year's success of the performance of Pablo Neruda's Canto General, this year Canto Coro will be accompanied by the Australian Greek Choir to present Axion Esti.
Axion Esti is a people's oratorio, featuring poetry readings, a cantor, a mass choir composed of many of Melbourne's migrant communities and an orchestra which includes the bouzouki and the santouri. Excerpts of Pablo Neruda's Canto General set to music by Mikis Theodorakis will also be performed.
The poem Axion Esti was written in the late '50s by Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseus Elytis. In it, he bears witness to the tragic history of Greece in the '40s and '50s, at the same time celebrating the pagan, sensual world of Greece. Theodorakis retained the poetic structure and combined spoken narrative, melodic material closely based on Orthodox liturgy and popular songs.
Theodorakis completed the music to Canto General in 1980, seven years after Neruda's death and the coup in Chile. Last year, it premiered in Melbourne with three successful concerts. Now the three-way collaboration of Greece, Chile and Australia is back to present more for lovers of music.
Axion Esti will be performed in its entirety in this once-only show, along with excerpts from Canto General, at Melbourne Town Hall, Friday, December 9, 8 pm. For information, ring Kari on 387 3665.