The performances put on at the ancient theater of Epidaurus combine the classical and lasting words of ancient poets with the incomparable beauty of the local landscape and the unequalled acoustics of Polykleitus’ masterpiece. Both Greek and foreign spectators have left here with indelible memories every Friday and Saturday in summer since 1955.
The impressive ancient theater of Epidaurus, with its unique acoustics, hosts the Epidaurus Festival every year, which is one of the most famous ancient drama festivals in the world.
The first ancient drama revival, Electra, by Sophocles, was performed on this sacred site in 1938, under the direction of Dimitris Rontiris. Following World War II and the subsequent civil war in Greece, during which it ‘went dark’, the theater was reopened in 1954 with Hippolytus, by Euripides, also directed by Dimitris Rontiris.
In the following year, i.e. in the summer of 1955, the Epidaurus Festival was established at the initiative of National Theater director Aimilios Chrourmouzios. The first show put on in the festival was Hecuba, with Katina Paxinou, directed by Alexis Minotis. The theater started putting on Aristophanes’ comedies in 1957.
All the shows put on until 1975 were produced by the National Theater. Ever since, however, the Theater of Epidaurus has also hosted shows produced by other theatrical organizations from Greece and abroad, including plays by Shakespeare, ancient tragedies, operas and ballet.
During all these years, prominent art figures have been put to the test, given the grandeur and history of the site, and excelled, including: Alexis Minotis, Katina Paxinou, Anna Synodinou, Manos Katrakis, Eleni Pappa, Karolos Koun, Maria Callas. All have made their mark on the festival, creating a tradition of top-quality performances, which is honored to the present day.