On the night of August 20, my friend Anna enjoyed a very special performance in a magical setting. Here’s how she describes it:
On the 145 km of the Athens-Patras highway is a town called Aegeira. Beyond it, climbing the winding road uphill towards the mountains, at 350 metres above sea level, one comes to an ancient theatre, its koilon facing the Corinthian gulf, with a magnificent, direct sea-view. The theatre itself is a protected area, now cordoned off and out of reach. Carved in the mountain stone, it could accommodate an audience of about 3.000. It is estimated that it was built in the 3rd century B.C.
I remember, during my childhood, that my uncle Anthony used to take us brats to this ancient site. Mechanically and technologically savvy, but also a lover of classical music, once every summer, at least, by full moon, he would set his gear – battery operated tape recorder and speakers – in the middle of the theatre pit and allow us to savour his taste for music and choice of extracts from the classics. He maintained that the acoustics here were almost as good as those of the famous theatre of Epidavros. We sat on the local porous stone steps, bathed in moonlight, and were immersed in classical music.
Tonight we were back, amongst 500 others. The theatrical play was The Apology of Socrates, recited in Ancient Greek, with Greek and English overtitles. I now have to read Plato’s work, my school work flashing back, my ignorance shaming me. It was an admirable effort by a theatrical unit from northern Greece. No full moon this time, but a new moon shyly appearing and then disappearing first behind the pine trees, and then behind the dark, imposing mountains.
We were not allowed to sit on the stone, as I had done as a child. The theatre, therefore, was now set up looking backwards, our backs to the sea view and facing the grey stone. If anything, this setup was odd. Modern technology helped the inverted acoustics. The interpretation of Plato’s work was executed superbly, a soliloquy respecting the musicality of ancient Greek, which, we were told, had been learned and practised over the past three years.
Such are the small but special cultural events of Aigialia, the area whose capital is the town of Aegion. It is the beauty of Greece in all its glory.
I had a marvellous and interesting evening, hopefully to be repeated.