Thousands of Unemployed Greeks Enjoy a Free Opera

Created: 2013-06-07 11:15 EST

Category: World > Europe

Around two thousand unemployed Greeks were granted a musical respite from their everyday worries on Thursday (June 6) during a free performance of Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" at the ancient Herod Atticus Theater.

[Myron Michailidis, Artist Director, Greek National Opera]:
"We decided that during these hard times we cannot shy away from the real problems that society is facing. So with a series of artistic events held in various spaces, we are bringing opera to a wider audience because we believe that it is a type of entertainment that people appreciate. And that is why we are holding this event today.”

The performance was the production's general rehearsal, with full lighting and costumes. It will premiere on Friday (June 7).

[Aphrodite Kasouta, Unemployed Teacher]:
"I feel really good, because so many people wanted to see this production, but because of the economic situation in the country many wouldn't have been able to. So it is a good opportunity for people to forget their troubles.”

[Kostas Gonis, Unemployed Actor]:
"In this crisis that we are going through, at the very least, cultural events must be offered generously to the people. Because it is through culture that we will be able to rise again.”

Greeks have seen their wages, benefits, and pensions reduced, in return for two bailout loans from the IMF and European Union.

The unemployment rate has hit nearly 27 percent, with youth unemployment at nearly 60 percent.

The country is in its sixth year of recession.