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Coming of Age in Ancient Greece

Date: July 22, 2004


The Swallow Song debuts October 21–24, 2004 at the Getty Center, Complementing the Exhibition Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past

LOS ANGELES—The Swallow Song, an original play commissioned by the Getty, will debut with four performances at the Getty Center from October 21–24, 2004. Adapted, directed by, and starring Lydia Koniordou, one of the world's finest classical Greek actresses, the play will combine texts by Homer, Euripides, and other playwrights with music and dance to bring to life scenes of childhood from ancient Greece.

The Swallow Song will coincide with and complement the Getty's Premiere Presentation exhibition Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, on view at the Getty Center from September 14–December 5, 2004. Coming of Age is the first major show to explore the lives of children in ancient Greece, from their roles in the family to their pets, toys, religious rituals, and education. The play is among a series of related events planned to enrich the exhibition.

The Swallow Song is funded by the Villa Council, an international support group for the classical arts organized by the Getty. Members are committed to the mission and goals of the new Getty Villa, which will reopen in fall 2005 at its historic Pacific Palisades location as an educational center devoted to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Among the Getty Villa's areas of focus will be its programs and resources on ancient theatre.

The Swallow Song, composed of scenes enacting some of the most important and painful dilemmas faced during childhood, will evoke the theatrical performances of ancient Greece. Spoken sequences of ancient text will be woven together by songs and dances, which draw on the music of youth and growing up. Included are lullabies, laments, and children's and marriage songs. The Shield of Achilles from Homer's Iliad serves as a linking device. Other highlights include verses from Ion, Agamemnon, Trojan Women, and Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides, poetry by Sappho, and verses from Libation on Bearers by Aeschylus.

The production has been guided onto the Getty stage by Lydia Koniordou, one of the foremost authorities on classical Greek drama, and a recipient of the L. Louriote, M. Kotopouli, and Karolos Koun awards for her achievements in the field. She has appeared in plays including Phoenician Women, Suppliants, Elektra, Oresteia, Yerma, Antigone, Oedipus the King, Ion, and Lysistrata. As a director, Koniordou has staged both contemporary and ancient Greek plays with the National Theatre of Greece (Elektra, Alkestis, and Ion) and with the theaters of Larissa, Volos, and Patra, as well as New York University (Christa Wolf's Cassandra) and the State University of New York at Binghamton (Elektra). Five classical Greek actors will join Koniordou on stage.

The Swallow Song is adapted by Koniordou and Theophanis Kakridis, a noted dramatic philologist, and translated from the ancient Greek by Oliver Taplin, professor of classics and co-director of the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at Oxford University. Costume and set design are by the internationally renowned Dionysis Fotopoulos, who has worked on more than 40 films and 300 theatrical productions, among them The Acharnians, Peace, The Bacchae, Oedipus Rex, Oresteia, Electra, Prometheus Bound, The Knights, and Philoktetes. Composer Takis Farazis provides an original score, which will be performed for the play by Farazis and two additional musicians.

The Swallow Song will be presented at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center. Performances begin at 8:00 p.m. on October 21, 22, and 23, and at 3:00 p.m. on October 24. Tickets ($28; $22 students/seniors) are available at the Museum Information Desk or by calling 310-440-7300.

A special Coming of Age in Ancient Greece exhibition Web site can be found at, along with a list of other related events, including lectures, gallery talks, and a Family Festival (October 3) exploring childhood from ancient Greece and around the world.

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Maureen McGlynn
Getty Communications Dept.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Grant Program. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs are based at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

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