Athens and Epidaurus Festival Odeon Herodes Atticus
A theatre performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Photograph: Stefanos, courtesy of Athens and Epidaurus Festival


Where: Various venues around Athens
When: On now – 26 September, 2017
Why Go: For an extensive line up of music, theatre & dance
Athens and Epidaurus Festival Madama Butterfly

Photograph: Stefanos

The Athens and Epidaurus Festival is the city’s annual arts festival and a highlight of the Greek summer calendar. With a legacy that spans more than sixty years, today it incorporates a full programme of music, theatre, dance and visual arts that takes place at various venues around the city, including the former industrial buildings at Piraeus 260, the Ancient Agora of Athens and the Onassis Cultural Centre. Performances at the two ancient amphitheatres of Odeon Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Epidaurus are highlights of the festival. Both theatres are famous for their exemplary acoustics and many of the great works of classical playwrights such as Sophocles who premiered at the Epidaurus theatre in ancient times.

The festival will once again present a diverse programme that has been described as youthful, alternative and political. There is a nod to the city’s cultural heritage with a full schedule of ancient Greek drama, comedy and tragedies showing at Epidaurus theatre throughout July and August. The performances showing at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus (a two hour drive from the city) are listed below.


The Athens and Epidaurus Festival 2017

Programme for the ancient theatres of Odeon of Herodes Atticus & Epidaurus

TICKETS: Pre-sale tickets are now available, online pre-sale information listed below.



Athens and Epidaurus Festival Odeon Herodes

Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Photographs: Thomas Daskalakis, courtesy of Athens and Epidaurus Festival

The spectacular amphitheatre of Odeon Herodes Atticus provides a magical setting at the base of the Acropolis. It has hosted legendary performances by Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti to name a few.

[Getting there: Dionysiou Areopagitou. For the taxi driver: Ωδείο Ηρώδειο, Οδός Διονυσίου Αρεοπαγίτου. Nearest metro station: Acropolis]


IL TROVATORE by Giuseppe Verdi

Essentials: 9:00pm, 21, 23, 25, 27 July

Athens and Epidaurus Festival Il Trovatore Odeon herodes

Verdi’s Il Trovatore presented by the Greek National Opera for the Athens and Epidaurus Festival

The Greek National Opera closes its summer artistic period performing an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Il Trovatore is a romantic melodrama set in Spain during the civil war of Aragon in the 15th century. Performing in Italian with Greek and English subtitles.




Essentials: 9:00pm, 30 July

Athens and Epidaurus Festival Wim Mertens Odeon

The great Belgian composer and pianist Wim Mertens will return to Greece for a single, bewitching concert. Boasting over 65 albums and a large fan base from all around the world, Mertens is world-renowned for his minimalist music and his diverse influences from classical, pop, jazz, and ambient music.




Essentials: 9:00pm, 1 August

Athens and Epidaurus Festival El Sistema Odeon

Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra (SEYO) consists of 190 young musicians between the ages of ten and twenty, as well as thirty music teachers from 27 countries that have adopted Sistema and Sistema-inspired programmes for “social action through music.” In August, SEYO will come to Athens for its annual summer camp, celebrating the ability of music to unite nations, religions, and cultures, especially during these difficult times facing Europe.



SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Butler of Fleet Street

Essentials: 9:00pm, 31 August

Athens and Epidaurus Festival Sweeney Todd Odeon

Sweeney Todd at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus for the Athens and Epidaurus Festival

In its third annual musical production, the Armonia Atenea – The Friends of Music Orchestra and George Petrou will once again impress audiences at the Athens Festival with the acclaimed musical thriller Sweeney Todd. This impressive production will feature a cast of 26, including popular actors and opera singers, along with a symphonic orchestra ensemble of 35. The play which is set in bleak 19th-century London, is a parable for the darkest aspects of humanity and society.

Sweeney Todd was first presented on Broadway in 1979, received a Tony award the same year. Music and lyrics by the living legend of American musical theatre, Stephen Sondheim and script by Hugh Wheeler.




AMYNTAS by George Mormoris

Essentials: 9:00pm, 26 September

Athens and Epidaurus Festival Amyntas Odeon

Amyntas premiered at the Athens Festival in 2016 and will be performed again at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in loving memory of the late director and scholar, Spyros Evangelatos. Originally written by Torquato Tasso, Amyntas is set in a forest full of love-struck shepherds, sheep, virgin Amazons, wild beasts and legendary creatures such as satyrs, dragons and deities of love. Evangelatos used the Greek translation by George Mormoris, which he described as “exuding a freshness and a youthfulness and is noted for its charming humour.” The production seeks to convey a dreamlike sense, moving to and fro between the atmospherics of a benign nightmare and a poetic farce.



Athens and Epidaurus Festival Ancient Epidaurus

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Photograph: Evi Fylaktou | Athens and Epidaurus Festival

The ancient theatre of Epidaurus is regarded as the best preserved ancient theatre in Greece and famous for its perfect acoustics. It was constructed in the late 4th century BC with a capacity of more than 12,000 spectators.

[This ancient theatre is located at Palea Epidaurus in Argolis. Getting there: A two hour drive from Athens. KTEL bus service provides transport to and from the venue.]

The theatre works listed are performed in Greek with English subtitles



MEDEA by Euripides

Essentials: 9:00pm, 4-5 August

Medea Athens Epidaurus Festival

The two faces of love: one is brutal, immersed in pain and darkness; the other is dreamy, pleasurable and bathed in light. Drawing on Euripides’ play and ancient Greek texts by Sappho, Plato, Theophrastus and others, this production by the Greek Art Theatre Karolos Koun will celebrate the joy and grief of love, while investigating how the deep, terrifying darkness of love as a brutal practice can devour beauty and nobility, leading one’s soul to absolute evil.



THE PERSIANS by Aeschylus

Essentials: 9:00pm, 11-12 August

Persians Athens Epidaurus Festival

Having won acclaim in recent years for his electrifying performances, director Aris Biniaris makes his Epidaurus debut in a production by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation, featuring a cast of talented actors from Greece and Cyprus. The cornerstone of this production is the interplay of rhythm and words; a vibrant synthesis of poetic language, music, and stage action. The dramatis personae and the chorus will be performed in a manner suggestive of the musical texture of the play. The production will unfold through dramatic action, words, singing, and dancing in quest of a fundamental simplicity that will bring to the fore the incessant inner vibes of the ancient Greek drama.



DANCES OF THE PELOPONNESE, closing celebration

Essentials: 9:00pm, 19 August

Athens and Epidaurus Festival

Inspired by the musical beat 7/8, which can be traced back to Aristophanes and the ancient Tsakonikos ritual dance, the Epidaurus Festival will pay tribute to the rich musical and dance tradition of the Peloponnese region of southern Greece, a timeless treasure trove of identity and historical memory.




Athens and Epidaurus Festival

The Little Theatre of Epidaurus. Photograph: Zarganis | Athens and Epidaurus Festival

The small theatre of ancient Epidaurus is located on the peninsula called “Nisi” (island), on the right side of the harbour. The theatre was discovered in 1971 and built in the 4th century BC. It was established in the Acropolis of the ancient city of Epidaurus at the south-western slope, before the period of Asklepios, and was used mainly for the events of the Dionysian cult and is therefore dedicated to the god Dionysus. It has a capacity of around 2000 seats. [Getting there: This ancient theatre is located in the Argolis prefecture of the Peloponnese. It is a half-hour drive from Nafplio and approximately two hours from Athens. More info.]


CYCLOPS by Euripides

Essentials: 9:30pm, 21-22 July

An all-female production examining the land of the cyclops, a masculine, raw, violent world of mutual killing and man-eating, where justice is tantamount to the survival of the fittest.




Essentials: 9:30, 4-5 August

Olivier Py Athens Epidaurus Festival

Provocative actor, poet and director Olivier Py attempts to give meaning to the present by re-interpreting two major plays by Aeschylus; Prometheus Bound and The Suppliants. In French, with Greek and English subtitles