Impresario Peter Tiboris announced today that he has commissioned acclaimed composer Christopher Theofanidis and poet and librettist J. D. McClatchy, a 2003 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, to create an opera-oratorio based on the international bestseller "Eleni," about a woman's sacrifice to save her children during the Greek Civil War.
The opera-oratorio will premiere at Carnegie Hall on March 25, 2021, the 200th anniversary of the revolution that freed Greece from 400 years of Turkish occupation. "I was deeply moved by Nicholas Gage's memoir that demonstrates so powerfully that Greeks have struggled and sacrificed throughout their history in defense of freedom," said Tiboris, the grandson of Greek immigrants who settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he grew up. "Eleni's heroic story has always been especially poignant to me because of my Greek roots."
The opera-oratorio will be based on the memoir "Eleni" by Nicholas Gage, which has been translated into more than 20 languages, made into a motion picture, and acclaimed by critics as "a devoted and brilliant achievement."
he book tells the story of Gage's mother, Eleni Gatzoyiannis, who engineered the escape of her eight-year-old son and three daughters from their mountain hamlet during the Greek civil war in 1948, after she learned that the Communist guerrillas who occupied the village were planning to collect all the children and send them behind the Iron Curtain. In retribution for her defiance, she was imprisoned, tortured and then executed by a firing squad, her body left unburied at the bottom of a ravine. She was 41 years old.
"Eleni" tells how her son Nicola joined his father in America and grew up to become a top New York Times investigative reporter, honing his skills with one goal in mind -- to return to Greece, track down the men most responsible for his mother's death and avenge her murder.