Mendelssohn’s Antigone

BBC Proms, July 2003

Potent Antigone, in a staging by Eugenia Arsenis, with Richard Hickox conducting the City of London Sinfonia and the BBC Singers. […] Zoe Waites was a dignified Antigone, calmly confronting Brian Protheroe’s psychologically imploding Creon. Conducting and choral singing were both electric, and the play itself – dealing with silencing of dissent in times of war – has rarely seemed more relevant than now.

The Guardian
25 July 2003

The performance was full of telling and carefully crafted detail, and made a convincing case for this long-buried piece.

The Daily Telegraph
23 July 2003

The well-known Classicist, Professor Hellmut Flashar, specialist on Mendelssohn’s Antigone, who honoured us with his presence, as he came from Germany especially for the performance, wrote:

I must confess that I never saw and heard a performance of Mendelssohn’s Antigone music which was more convincing than yours. I have heard this music in concert halls from 1979 until now about a dozen times, but nearly always in pure concert form. And there is a lack in the reception of the whole. Your tasteful staging made clear the combination of music and drama in the sense of a Gesamtkunstwerk.

16 August 2003

On June 25th, 2004, Professor Flashar invited Eugenia Arsenis to the Antikenfestpiele in Trier, Germany, where he honored her by speaking about her production.

If the hopes of the future are being drawn from the youth of the present, Eugenia Arsenis can fulfill such promise. Theater-historian, director, musician, doctoral researcher in Philosophical Aesthetics, she conceived the idea of a music-centered performance of ancient Greek drama and staged it under ideal conditions. She staged Sophocles’ Antigone with the forgotten music by Mendelssohn […] at the imposing Royal Albert Hall in London, on the 23rd July 2003. The proposal of the young Arsenis was to stage a tragedy based in music – where the music and the aesthetics of romanticism meet the spirit of the classical text – with eight actors, the City of London Sinfonia-orchestra of 48 musicians, conducted by Richard Hickox and a male chorus of 40 singers. The performance was not only noticed by the British press but was also praised with warm reviews at the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and it was broadcast live by the BBC Radio 3. A very big production with high standards in a very central theater of the British capital is already an impressive piece of news. Even more, when behind these, there is serious study and thought, which supports the production. “The music gave me the inspiration for this staging. I translated the text into English in a style that would be consistent with the aesthetics of the 19th century music. For the dramaturgy, I kept the six main characters and all the choral parts, which were set to music, the heroine’s lamentation and Creon’s monologue”. Eugenia Arsenis’ dynamic beginning at the British stage emerged when one of the producers attended one of her conference-talks in London, on the subject of her doctorate in Philosophical Aesthetics and Opera, appreciated her idea and asked her to fulfill it. All these have a very strong ground in her academic studies: theater studies and directing at the Royal Holloway University of London. Postgraduate studies in Philosophy at UCL, advanced research at the Department of Music at Boston University, music studies -piano and composition- at the Attiko Conservatory and at the Royal Holloway University of London. So, we can conclude that nothing is accidental…

E. Chatziioannou
Ta Nea | With Antigoni in the heart of London
11 August 2003

The most essential precondition for someone to have a career abroad, the general consencous is, the hard-work and the existence of talent. Eugenia Arsenis seems to have tried a lot for the first and not at all for the second. A distinguished graduate of Arsakio school […]. The impressive reviews for Eugenia’s work prove that her talent has already started being accepted and recognized […] and it will surely engage us in the future.

Adesmeutos Typos
Her talent showed brightly…
20 August 2003

When a young Greek woman excels abroad, one could not but feel proud of that. This is what happens with the 26 year-old theater-historian-director Eugenia Arseenis, an artist who –even if she is very young – managed to win applause and recognition of London’s audience. […]. Potent Antigone, was the performance characterised for the very thoughtful details that unveil the central idea of the play. The Director of the BBC Proms Mr. Nicholas Kenyon sent a letter of congratulations to the director of Antigone and expressed his great satisfaction for the result.

Ethnos
Applause for Eugenia Arsenis’ Antigone
13 August 2003