Since its inception in 1955, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the foremost public cultural institution in Greece, has hosted numerous major Greek and world-famous performing artists.
Over the years, audiences have enjoyed celebrated musicians, ranging from Dimitris Mitropoulos, the New York Philharmonic, Maria Callas and Mstislav Rostropovich and Luciano Pavarotti to Leonidas Kavakos, Dimitris Sgouros, Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Maria Farantouri, and George Dalaras. When it comes to dance, audiences have been spellbound by high-calibre artists, among which George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Ballet, Martha Graham, Maurice Béjart, Pina Bausch, Maguy Marin, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, and Dimitris Papaioannou. Spectators have also had the privilege to watch memorable productions by the crème de la crème of world theatre, including Dimitris Rontiris, Karolos Koun, Giorgio Strehler, Peter Hall, Ariane Mnouchkine, Romeo Castellucci, Thomas Ostermeier. Noh Theatre, the Peking Opera, Volksbühne, the South African Brett Bailey, and Lefteris Vogiatzis, to name but a few.
In these times of social and cultural crisis, it is imperative that the Athens & Epidaurus Festival contributes to social cultivation, encouraging love for high art. At the same time, the Festival needs to actively support contemporary artists. Highlighting contemporary art and paving the road for audiences that are more critically engaged are both instrumental in enabling the operation of a progressive, cultural institution insofar as they promote a better society: a society of proactive thinkers rather than a society of helpless people at the mercy of market forces.