For the 2020 season of classical performances at the Greek theater in Siracusa, the INDA Foundation has chosen to report:
The Bacchantes of Euripides
Iphigenia in Tauride of Euripides
The Clouds of Aristophanes
In all the works, scenes and characters are presented in an opposite way to their true nature, this starting from the latest tragedy by Euripides, Le Baccanti, where we find a tangle of events difficult to unravel, where every truth overshadows its opposite. In Iphigenia in Tauride every reality believed to be false. In the Clouds, belief in certain “new culture” solutions is only illusion.
Euripides’ “Le Baccanti”: outline of the plot.
The tragedy was written while the author was in the court of Archelaus, king of Macedonia, around 400 BC. Euripides died a few months after completing it. The work was performed in Athens a few years later, under the direction of the son of the same name, or perhaps his grandson, there is no certainty. Dionysus, god of wine, theater and physical and mental pleasure, was born from the union between Zeus and Semele, a mortal woman. However, the sisters of the woman and the nephew Penteo (king of Thebes) out of envy spread the rumor that Dionysus was not actually born from Zeus, but from a relationship between Semele and an ordinary man, and that the story of the relationship with Zeus was only a story invented to mask the “escapade”. Dionysus was therefore considered a common mortal.
Dionysus wants to convince all of Thebes that he is a god and not a man. To do so, it induces a germ of madness in all the Theban women, who therefore fled to Mount Citerone to celebrate rites in his honor, thus becoming bacchantes, that is, women who celebrate the rites of Bacchus, another name of Dionysus.
However, this fact does not convince Penteus who considers Dionysus a sort of demon and arrests him. Dionysus lets himself be captured deliberately to imprison him, but the god unleashes an earthquake that allows him to free himself immediately. In the meantime, disturbing news comes from Mount Citerone, the women manage to make wine, milk and honey flow from the rock, and in a moment of Dionysian fury they rushed on a herd of cows, quartering them alive with force that could not be theirs. Out of their minds they then invaded some villages, devastating everything, kidnapping children and fleeing the population. Dionysus, speaking with Penteus, then manages to convince him to disguise himself as a woman in order to secretly spy on the Bacchantes. Once the two have arrived on the Citerone, however, the god incites the Bacchantes against Pentheus. They cut down the tree on which the king had hidden, pounce on him and literally tear him to pieces. Not only that, but the first to rage on Penteo, breaking his arm, is his mother Agave.
Euripides’ “Iphigenia in Tauride”: outline of the plot.
Iphigenia managed not to be killed by her father Agamemnon who wanted to sacrifice her to the goddess Artemis who intervened by replacing her with a deer, and bringing the princess to Tauride. Becoming a priestess at the temple of Artemis, she found herself forced to perform the crude task of performing the ritual sacrifice of every foreigner who landed on the Tauric peninsula. Meanwhile his brother Oreste, helped by Pilade and his sister Elettra, killed Clytemnestra, his mother, to avenge the killing of his father Agamemnon. Tormented by the Erinyes, Oreste is often prey to attacks of madness. Charged by Apollo to steal a sacred statue of Artemis to be brought to Athens to be freed from torment, he goes with Pilade to Tauride, not knowing of the presence of his sister, but is captured together with his friend, and taken to the temple to be killed, as usual. Iphigenia and Orestes recognize each other, and plan the escape, carrying the statue of Artemis with them.
Aristophanes’ “clouds”: outline of the plot.
The farmer Strepsìade is persecuted by creditors because of the money that his son Phidippides has squandered on horse racing; he then thought of sending his son to the school of Socrates, a philosopher who, clinging to every sophism, taught how to prevail in dialectical clashes, even if in a position of evident wrong. At first Fidippide does not want to go to the philosopher’s Pensieve and so the father, desperate and persecuted by the loan sharks, decides to go there himself, albeit old. As soon as he arrives, he meets a disciple who gives him a taste of the things he is thinking about in that place: a new unit of measurement to calculate the length of a flea’s jump, or the discovery of the way in which mosquitoes emit their sound. Subsequently, finally Strepsiade sees Socrates sitting on a basket suspended in midair, in order to study celestial phenomena more closely.
The philosopher, after a brief dialogue, decides to commit himself to instruct him: he puts on a cloak and a crown and invokes the arrival of the Clouds, the divinities he adored, who appear punctually on the scene. Strepsiade, however, cannot understand anything of the pseudo-philosophical discourses that are made to him (parody of Socratic and sophistic philosophy) and is therefore chased away. Phidippides, intrigued by his father’s stories, finally decides to go and visit the pensieve and when he arrives he attends the debate between the Best Speech and the Worst Speech. Despite the good intentions and sound values proposed by the Best Speech (personification of the virtues of tradition), in the end the Worst Speech (personification of the new philosophies) prevails through quibbling reasoning. Phidippides learns the lesson and together with his father Strepsiade manages to send away two creditors; his father is happy, but the situation immediately gets out of hand: Phidippides begins to beat him, and in the face of his protests the son shows him that he has every right to do so. Exasperated and furious, Strepsiade then sets Socrates’ Pensieve on fire, amid the frightened cries of the disciples.
The Clouds of Aristophanes will be staged at the Greek Theater in Syracuse for the fourth time since 1927, the first year in which the Inda Foundation decided to open its own program of classic performances to comedies, with the artistic direction of the great Ettore Romagnoli, in 1988 directed by Giancarlo Sammartano and in 2011 when Alessandro Maggi directed the comedy. For the next season, the “first” is set for May 8, 2020, the Euripides “Bacchantes” will be staged. The following day will see the debut of “Ifigenia of Tauride” and finally, “The Clouds” of Aristophanes, will debut on June 7th.
The official source of the plot hints is it.wikipedia.org.
It is possible to download the calendar from the INDA official website, to which we recommend referring to more detailed information.