Many Jewish communities in Macedonia and Thrace disappeared in the Holocaust, yet their presence in the places where their communities once thrived is still palpable. These are places, after all, which are defined by a multicultural legacy and a respect for history that expresses itself in myriad ways. One of these is the last of two concerts on July 8 at the archaeological site at Abdera in Xanthi, which shines a spotlight on the life and work of an important Greek-Austrian Jew, Renato Mordo (9-1894). He was born in Austria in XNUMX to a Corfiot father and an Austrian mother and studied German culture, literature and the history of art and music in Vienna before going on to the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the same city.

His professional career started as a stage director in 1917 in Poland and went on to include important posts in Germany, where his work was distinguished for its innovative ideas and fresh approaches. He was there during the rise of the Nazis and was later forced to abandon a very good post in Prague in 1939 with the occupation of the Sudetenland. Mordo fled to Athens, where he found a job at the newly established Greek National Opera, where he enjoyed the full support of its founding fathers, Kostis Bastias and Manolis Kalomiris. But the Greek capital was soon not safe for him either. Despite significant efforts to save him by Greek underground movements and Athens Archbishop Damaskinos during the Nazi occupation, Mordo was arrested in 1944 and sent to the notorious concentration camp in the western Attica suburb of Haidari. He not only survived the ordeal, but it even inspired him to write a play. Between 1950 and XNUMX, Mordo directed XNUMX operas and operettas at the GNO, but his incarceration at the Haidari camp got him labeled as a communist sympathizer and he was let go from the organization despite his enormous contribution to it.

“Renato Mordo: The Hours,” directed by Christos Lygas from the Protes Yles theater company, sheds light on the Greek-Austrian Jewish artist’s odyssey, and particularly on his dramatic incarceration. It also focuses on his correspondence with his wife Trude, illuminating her thoughts, fears and dreams, as well as her love for the theater and music, while exploring issues of identity, religion and nationality.

“The theme of loss is at the core of the play, being separated from beloved people and places, the need to reclaim one’s roots, a return that is constantly being postponed to an ‘Ithaca,’ which, through constant reflections, ultimately becomes a utopia,” says Lygas, who also stars in the play, alongside Angeliki Dimitrakopoulou and Giannis Tzitzis in a special guest appearance.

Music is another pivotal part of the performance, with singer Kalliopi Mitropoulou performing compositions that bring the inter-war years to life.