For the 2020 season of classical performances at the Greek theater in Syracuse, the INDA Foundation has chosen to report:
In all the works, scenes and characters appear in a manner opposite to their true nature, this starting from the last tragedy of Euripides, Le Baccanti, where we find a tangle of events difficult to untangle, where every truth overshadows its opposite. In Iphigenia in Tauride every reality believed to be false is revealed. In the Clouds, faith in certain solutions of “new culture” is only illusion.
“The Bacchae” by Euripides: notes on the plot.
The tragedy was written while the author was at 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 of his nephew, 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 word that Dionysus was not actually born of Zeus, but from a relationship between Semele and a common man, and that the story of the relationship with Zeus was alone a story invented to mask the “escapade”. Dionysus was therefore considered a common mortal. Dionysus wants to convince all Thebes to be a god and not a man. To do this it induces a germ of madness in all the Theban women, who therefore fled to Mount Citerone to celebrate rituals in his honor, thus becoming bacchae, that is, women who celebrate the rites of Bacchus, another name for Dionysus.
This fact, however, does not convince Penteo who considers Dionysus a sort of demon and has him arrested. Dionysus is deliberately captured to imprison him, but the god unleashes an earthquake that allows him to free himself immediately. Meanwhile, from the Citerone mountain, worrying news arrives, the women manage to make wine, milk and honey flow out of the rock, and in a moment of Dionysian fury they rushed on a herd of cows, ripping them alive with strength that could not be theirs. Out of their minds they then invaded some villages, devastating everything, kidnapping children and putting the population to flight. Dionysus, talking to Penteo, then manages to convince him to disguise himself as a woman in order to secretly spy on the Bacchantes. Once the two have reached the Citerone, however, the god incites the Bacchantes against Pentheus. They cut down the tree on which the king had hidden himself, pounced on him and literally tore him to pieces. Not only that, but the first to rage on Penteo, breaking his arm, is really his mother Agave.
“Iphigenia in Tauride” by Euripides: notes on 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 taking the princess to Tauris. Having become a priestess at the temple of Artemis, she found herself having to forcefully carry out 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 Clitennestra, his mother, to avenge the killing of his father Agamemnon. Tormented by the Erinyes, Oreste is often prey to attacks of madness. Appointed by Apollo to steal a sacred statue of Artemis to be brought to Athens to be freed from torment, he went with Pilade to Tauride, not knowing of the presence of his sister, but was captured along with his friend, and taken to the temple to be killed, as usual. Iphigenia and Orestes recognize each other, and concoct the escape, taking with them the statue of Artemis.
“The clouds” of Aristophanes: notes on the plot.
The peasant Strepsìade is persecuted by the creditors because of the money that his son Fidippide has squandered to the horse races; he then thinks of sending his son to the school of Socrates, a philosopher who, clinging to every sophism, teaches how to prevail in dialectical confrontations, even if in an obviously wrong position. At first Fidippide does not want to go to the philosopher’s Pensieve and so his father, desperate and persecuted by the lenders, decides to go there himself, albeit old. As soon as he arrives, he meets a disciple who gives him a taste of the things on which he reasoned 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. Later, finally Strepsiad sees Socrates sitting on a basket suspended in mid-air, so as 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 deities he adored, who arrive on time on the scene. Strepsiade, however, fails to understand anything about the pseudo-philosophical discourses that are made to him (a parody of Socratic and Sophistic philosophy) and is therefore thrown out. Fidippide, intrigued by his father’s stories, finally decides to visit the pensieve and when he arrives, he sees the debate between the Best Speech and the Worst Speech.
Despite the good intentions and the sound values proposed by the Best Speech (personification of the virtues of tradition), in the end the Worst Speech prevails (personification of the new philosophies) through quirky reasoning. Fidippide 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: Fidippide starts to beat him, and in front of his protests his son shows him that he has all the right to do it. Exasperated and furious, Strepsiade then burned the Pensieve of Socrates, among the frightened cries of the disciples.
The Clouds of Aristophanes will be staged at the Greek Theater of Syracuse for the fourth time since 1927, the first year in which the Inda Foundation decided to open its program of classical performances to the comedies, with the artistic direction by the great Ettore Romagnoli, in 1988 directed by Giancarlo Sammartano and in 2011 when Alessandro Maggi conducted the play. For the next season, the “first” is set for May 8th 2020, the “Bacchae” of Euripides will be staged. The next day will see the debut of “Iphigenia” by Tauride and finally, “The Clouds” by Aristophanes, will debut on June 7th.
The official source of the hints on the plots is it.wikipedia.org.
Download the official calendar of classical performances at the Greek theater in Syracuse.
The calendar can be downloaded from the INDA official website, to which we recommend to refer for more detailed information.