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Issue 22

(Spring 2013)






Kostas Kardamis: The folkloric element in the opera The Parliamentary Candidate by Spiridon Xindas


The comic opera O ypopsifios [The Parliamentary Candidate] by Spyridon Xindas (premiere: Corfu, San Giacomo Theatre, autumn 1867) holds a prominent place in the history of neo-hellenic music as the earliest full-scale melodramatic work in (demotic) Greek language. Nonetheless, the presence of folklore elements in its music is equally important, given that its plot takes place in a village of Corfu during the last years of the British Administration. The present essay attempts to underline the use of rural musical elements in Xindas’s opera, by making an explicit reference to the importance of folklorism in the Ionian composers’ works before 1867 and by offering a series of stylistic observations and archival information regarding The Parliamentary Candidate.

The folkloric musical elements in Xindas’s opera serve several causes, apart from their obvious use as “couleur locale” related to the rural areas of Corfu: they strengthen the social critic (which lays behind the opera’s comic façade) and expand it beyond the narrow boundaries of the plot, they obtain particular importance during a period of national mobilization, and illustrate the new social and cultural orientations of the Ionian Islands after their annexation to the Kingdom of Greece in 1864.



Konstantinos G. Sampanis: The opera performances in Zante from 1835 until the embodiment of the Ionian Islands to the “Kingdom of Greece” (1864) – IÉ


“Apollo”, initially a wooden theatre in the Ionian Island of Zante (“Zakynthos” in Greek), was built by the Italian Gaetano Mele in 1835, when the first aimed, organised and complete season of opera performances was held. For more than two decades the seasons of operas did not take place on an annual basis, but from the year 1857 until the season of 1863-1864 there was a remarkable stability and regularity concerning the annual occurrence. Totally, from 1835 until the embodiment of Zante to the “Kingdom of Greece” (1864), nineteen organised seasons of opera performances took place, as well as a series of performances, which lasted only a few weeks. Furthermore, two more seasons can be considered as questionable and a series as possibly having taken place. It is estimated that during the period 1835-1864 a total of 115-125 opera productions were held, of which up to now the 90 are completely confirmed, while 5 more are strongly believed to have taken place based on documented evidence. Fifty-seven operas of 14 composers were performed, mainly by Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi and Rossini. The small population of Zante, as well as the fact that this island was a small and peripheral opera “market”, conduced to the appearance of Italian opera troops mainly of medium or law quality, usually consisting on the one hand of young and undistinguished singers, a few of which made a name of themselves during the following years, but also most of which remained undistinguished, and on the other hand of aged singers, which were very close to the end of their career. However, not only a few times even with such troops, the impresarios of “Apollo” were led to bankruptcy. Despite this, the public of Zante had the opportunity to hear significant singers while they were still young and insignificant. The most important lyrical artists that appeared during the above mentioned period on the stage of “Apollo” were the prima donnas Antonietta Galzerani, Serafina Rubini, Enrichetta Zani and Argentina Angelini, the baritone Davide Squarcia, the bass Luigi Dalla Santa and the comic bass Leopoldo Cammarano.



Dimitris Kabolis: Arvanitic songs in the public sphere: Issues of music policy


The purpose of this article is the presentation of Arvanitic songs in the public sphere. Musical practice within the framework of the old musical-cultural environment is examined up to the years of the Second World War, where of special dominance was dance accompanied by songs, which were antiphonically performed by the dancers. There is a special mention of the various changes, both in socio-economic and symbolic levels, through which the Arvanitic language and music were held in contempt and pushed aside as elements of a civilization characterized by linguistic dissimilarity. Emphasis is also given to the role of discography on the spread of certain songs, highlighting them as “pan-Arvanitic” and brushing aside in this way the pre-existing centuries-old vocal tradition.

By combining the study of archived discographic material with interviews of musicians who are performing in Arvanitic villages and have recorded relevant repertoire, there can be seen, during the post-war period, three periods of Arvanitic songs presence in the public sphere. The central stage in all these periods is held by the preeminence of discography. During the first period, local repertoires were being continuously under fire by the self-censorship of the indigenous people, as well as by the feelings of “shame” concerning their language and culture, which were systematically cultivated in the Arvanitic population by various sources. The second period begins in the 1980s, where, through the rise of populism and the development of the market and trade of folk songs audio cassettes by Athenian record companies, “unknown” and “forgotten” Arvanitic songs reemerge in the public sphere, this time handled by folk bands in the same way that the rest of the folk songs were being handled. The third period begins in the 1990s, and continues to the present time. During this period, the presence of Arvanitic songs in the discography subsides, as a consequence of historical circumstance and the advent of new nationalistic movements in the modern multicultural societies.



Veroniki Mavriki: The presence of harmonica in Istanbul, Izmir and in Greece: Organological and terminological issues


This article is a study on harmonica, a “forgotten” musical instrument, which starred in the bands of popular music of Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna in the early 19th century and later in the orchestras of popular music in Greece until 1935. An attempt is made to approach some organological issues of this instrument, through the presentation of two harmonicas and through oral testimonies, due to the absence of any other archival sources. Reports from the bibliography have been recorded, which demonstrate the existence and the role of the instrument in the music life of Istanbul, Izmir and the Greek mainland. Finally, there is the issue of the classification of the instrument, as shown through testimonials and bibliographical references the various names that have been assigned from time to time to this musical instrument.



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