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The Reception of German Theater in Greece

Establishing a Theatrical Locus Communis: The Royal Theater in Athens (1901-1906)

Michalis Georgiou

The author examines the vigorous reception of the German theater in Greece, a phenomenon that took place along with the process of establishing in Athens, in 1901 the Royal Theater. The multiple aesthetic, social and political forms of this phenomenon provided a "locus of contact" with the German culture and accomplished a function, regarded as the instrument for the development of the bourgeois theater in Greece. This happened through the work of theater practitioners and intellectuals, as well as through the transfer of institutions, theatrical plays, and scripts of direction instructions, decorations, and props. The performances staged were the iceberg in the process of this reception, as they provided a strategy toward the revitalization of the Greek theater, realized in a productive way.

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3. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare (1903)


3.1 The Marriage of Music and Poetry

The performance of The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare opened at the Royal Theater on the 25th of November, 1903. According to the playbill of the performance, the text used was translated from the English prototype by Dimitrios Kaklamanos.654 Kaklamanos was a diplomat, writer, and director of the newspaper To Asty in 1892 and later the editor of the newspaper Neon Asty. Moreover, the direction instructions by Franz von Dingelstedt were used for the project, as well as the music by the composer Friedrich von Flotow, performed by the orchestra of the Royal Theater. As I have shown earlier, Thomas Oeconomo had taken part in the performance of The Winter’s Tale on the 31st of December, 1899 at Meiningen Theater. In particular, he had played the role of Archidamus, a lord of Bohemia.

Dingelstedt, who was famous as a poet and dramatist, attained his first position as intendant in 1851 at the Court Theater in Munich, after receiving great acceptance with his tragedy Das Haus der Barneveldt (1850), and although he was successful, he was fired in 1857, because of the expense of his unconventional performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser.655 In all the theaters he worked, in Weimar after Franz Liszt’s urge, as well as in Burgtheater, the way he directed concerned firstly his understanding of the meaning of each scene of the play, the relations between the characters and their actions and then to present a spectacle...

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