Enjoy an unforgettable evening at the stunning open-air theater of Odeon Herodes Atticus in 2023, just beneath the Acropolis. Here are the 20 shows you shouldn’t miss!
Featured Image: ©Thomas Daskalakis – NDP Photo Agency
Last updated: 16 Oct 2023
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How do you like the idea of watching a show in a 2,000-year-old theater under the night sky of Athens?
Naturally, I am talking about the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built by the Athenian benefactor Herodes Atticus in 161 AD in memory of his wife.
Today, two millennia later, the Herodeion continues to welcome spectators, hosting theatrical, musical, and dance shows.
Concerts Right Under the Acropolis
During your visit to Athens, seize the opportunity to experience a show beneath the Acropolis and create unforgettable memories.
As a theater and concert enthusiast, I have attended several performances around the world.
However, trust me, the experience of watching one at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is truly unique.
The venue’s vibes seem to have a magical effect on the artists, inspiring them to give their best.
In the following lines, you will find 20 shows you should watch in 2023.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to speak or understand Greek to attend any of them.
Where to Stay Near Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023
Staying close to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023 is a great choice, as it’s located right in the heart of Athens.
The surrounding area, known as Koukaki, is also full of affordable bars, cafes, and locals!
Additionally, the location is adjacent to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, and many other historic sites.
Don’t miss the comprehensive Where to Stay in Athens guide for more reliable neighborhoods.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus 2023; 20 best events in chronological order
1) 1, 4, 7, 10 June 2023 [Οpera] – Greek National Opera – Vassilis Christopoulos – Olivier Py: Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Following the enormously successful Wozzek (2020), world-renowned French director Olivier Py returns to the Greek National Opera.
He is the Artistic Director of Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and the former director of Festival d’Avignon (2014-2022).
This time, he will direct one of Puccini’s most popular masterworks, Madama Butterfly, on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus stage.
Idiosyncratic aspects of the Japanese musical tradition, climaxes, and chamber music qualities are all present in Butterfly.
Additionally, outbursts alongside the entire orchestra lend the piece its unique character and breathe a special life into it.
The production is realized with support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Their aim is to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.
2) 19 June 2023 [Contemporary Music] – John Cale & Band – Athens Philharmonia Orchestra: From Velvet Underground to Mercy, Ft. Orchestra & Immersive Visuals
John Cale is the Welsh musician who made history with the Velvet Underground.
He will perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, taking the audience on a musical journey through a career spanning six decades.
The performance will feature plenty of classic material, as well as songs from his newest album, Mercy, which has received glowing reviews from the international music press.
A composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer of rock, drone, classical, avant-garde, and electronic music, Cale and Lou Reed founded the Velvet Underground.
They had Andy Warhol as their manager and Nico as a muse of sorts, creating one of the most beloved avant-garde bands of all time.
In 1996, Cale was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Subsequently, he has also been appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Cale is a student of Iannis Xenakis and John Cage and a close friend and collaborator of Brian Eno.
Impressively, he has over 20 solo albums under his belt.
Furthermore, he is the producer who discovered iconic figures of rock music, including, but not limited to, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Squeeze, and Jonathan Richman.
Joining him on stage will be the Athens Philharmonia Orchestra and, of course, his band.
Together, they will present a performance specially conceived for the monument—an exclusive world premiere featuring the orchestra and immersive visuals.
3) 22 June 2023 [Contemporary Music] – The Waterboys
The Waterboys have a special bond with Greek audiences.
In 2023, they are bringing their melodies and lyricism to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus for the first time.
The Waterboys were formed in Edinburgh in 1983 by Scottish musician Mike Scott.
Their history is inseparable from Scott’s musical career, as he is the heart and soul of the group.
Using rock’n’roll as a starting point, their early music features epic, ambitious compositions.
Interestingly, someone coined the term “big music”, especially for them.
In 1985, they released “The Whole of the Moon,” which eventually became the band’s signature song.
Since then, various artists have covered it, ranging from Prince and U2 to The Killers and Rod Stewart.
In addition to big music, Scott, a folklore legend enthusiast, has taken the Waterboys down more folk music paths.
Drawing inspiration from the Celtic tradition and Greek mythology, he has a particular fondness for Pan, his favorite mythical figure.
From 1983 to this day, the Waterboys have released 15 albums and have never stopped evolving.
4) 23 June 2023 [Contemporary Music] – Nils Frahm: Music for Athens
When it comes to defining the space between classical and electronic music, one name often mentioned is that of the Berlin-based pianist, composer, and producer Nils Frahm.
Remarkably, his unconventional approach to the piano is both contemplative and intimate.
By skillfully combining ambient textures and atmospheric electronica in his sonic alchemy, he has won many fans worldwide.
Over the years, he has completed numerous tours and concerts all over the globe.
As a result, these performances have strengthened his reputation as both an exceptional instrumentalist and a fascinating live musician.
Critics and audiences alike have acclaimed his albums, and his live shows are always sold out.
He will perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023, offering audiences an unforgettable, enchanting evening.
5) 24 June 2023 [Jazz Sessions] – Gregory Porter
Within the last decade, Gregory Porter has brought contemporary jazz to the ears of thousands of people through his warm, baritone voice.
He quickly rose to fame in 2010 with his first album, Water, a wonderful mixture of jazz, gospel, and soul.
Soon afterward, critics declared him to be on the same level as iconic artists such as Nat King Cole and Stevie Wonder.
He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards.
One of the most lauded performers of his generation, Porter will make his Greek debut shortly before his three scheduled concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
6) 27 June 2023 [Contemporary Music] – Sigur Rós
One of the most popular post-rock bands on the planet, the Icelandic Sigur Rós, are currently touring with an orchestra.
Soon, they will perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, thrilling Festival audiences with their seductive soundscapes.
Though they may sing their lengthy, hypnotic compositions entirely in Icelandic or without verses, they still manage to speak out in a universal musical language.
Audiences and critics alike have warmly embraced their complete discography.
This collection features now-classic songs such as “Starálfur,” “Olsen Olsen,” and “Svefn-g-englar.”
Moreover, it has also served as a source of inspiration for several post-rock bands worldwide over at least the last two decades.
7) 29 June 2023 [Classical Music] – Athens State Orchestra – Loukas Karytinos: Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi’s awe-inspiring Requiem is one of the most popular symphonic/choral works ever.
In addition to its emotionally moving musical power, its anthropocentric dimension also sets it apart.
Verdi neither attempted to bolster faith nor stir up fear about Judgment Day or foster hope for eternal rest.
Confronted with the tragic fact of death, he wanted his music to celebrate humans, their awe in the face of the unknown, and their stance towards God, oscillating between faith and doubt.
Deeply emotional, the music focuses on and expresses the mystery of the fleeting human existence.
In this way, it makes Requiem one of the most invaluable works of the world music canon.
This year, the Athens State Orchestra celebrates 80 years since its founding with this legendary work under the baton of its chief conductor, Lukas Karytinos.
Audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy several talented performers.
Bass Alexandros Stavrakakis is the only Greek opera singer to have won the First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Finnish soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä is one of the most promising sopranos in the dramatic repertoire worldwide.
Imposing Tunisian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb will also grace the stage.
Finally, the famous Grammy-nominated English-American tenor Barry Banks will complete the lineup.
8) 1 July 2023 [Contemporary Music] – Alexandre Desplat, Featuring the ERT National Symphony Orchestra
With two Academy Awards, three César Awards, three BAFTAs, two Golden Globes, and two Grammy Awards, Alexandre Desplat’s work enjoys impressive recognition.
Additionally, he has dozens of nominations to his name.
As one of the most acclaimed contemporary film composers, he was born in Paris in 1961.
He has a French father and a Greek mother.
Desplat turned to music from a very young age.
Starting from the late 1990s, he has been linked with soundtracks of hugely successful American and European films.
Some examples include The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water, The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The King’s Speech, and The Imitation Game.
For this special event, the world-renowned composer will conduct the ERT National Symphony Orchestra.
The concert will highlight some of his greatest film compositions.
9) 8 July 2023 [Jazz Sessions] – José James
Since as early as his first album, The Dreamer (2008), José James hasn’t stopped captivating audiences and critics with his unique vocal timbre and the depth of his performance.
The so-called “jazz artist of the hip-hop generation” is guided by his classical influences (John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday).
Thus he effortlessly moves in between genres, including soul, funk, hip-hop, and house.
At the same time, he is always paying tribute to jazz’s gospel and blues roots.
This July, he will make his Greek debut, mesmerizing Greek audiences much like he has already mesmerized music lovers at the most significant stages and festivals across the globe.
At his Odeon of Herodes Atticus concert in 2023, he will perform songs from three of his albums, dedicated to Billie Holiday, Bill Withers, and Erykah Badu.
10) 10 July 2023 [Contemporary Music] – James, with a classical orchestra and a gospel choir
James is an all-time favorite band of Greek audiences.
On 10 July, they are coming to Athens for a magical night at the Herodes Atticus Odeon with their James Lasted Orchestral Tour – 40th Anniversary.
In this once-in-a-lifetime show at the shadow of the Acropolis, James will be joined for the first time in their history by a 22-member symphony orchestra and a gospel choir for a journey down their entire music history.
Having sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, the British indie band from Manchester has become synonymous with singer Tim Booth’s energized onstage performance.
Anthems like “Senorita,” “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up),” “She’s a Star,” and “Sometimes” have shaped their musical imprint.
James’ steadfast relationship with Greece will be again reaffirmed in a night to remember.
11) 11 July 2023 [Jazz Sessions] – Herbie Hancock
A world-renowned figure of contemporary music, iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock has garnered numerous accolades, including 14 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, in an impressive career spanning five decades.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child music prodigy.
He was performing at a piano concerto alongside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of just 11 years old!
His collaboration with Donald Byrd in 1960 marked his debut in the jazz music scene.
Two years later, he was signed by the famous Blue Note record label.
In 1963, he embarked on a five-year collaboration with Miles Davis, and together they recorded several classic albums.
In 1966, Hancock composed the music for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up.
Its success paved the road for him to a successful career in cinema.
In the 1970s, he reached the pinnacle of his fame with his group Head Hunters, while also working with artists such as Chick Corea and Oscar Peterson.
He is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and has been honored for his social contributions.
12) 12 July 2023 [Jazz Sessions] – Melody Gardot
Renowned jazz singer Melody Gardot will mesmerize audiences with her velvety voice and beautiful blues, folk, and Latin performing fusions.
Originally hailing from Philadelphia, USA, the musician demonstrated her talent in her debut album, Worrisome Heart.
From a very young age, she established herself as one of the most outstanding representatives of jazz in her country, delivering spellbinding performances at the world’s greatest festivals.
Her distinctive singing style nostalgically evokes the very best moments of the blues tradition, reminiscent of passionate performances by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.
13) 16 July 2023 [Electronica] – Kraftwerk
The iconic group from Düsseldorf literally created electronic music in the 1970s.
With each new album, they redefined the course of the genre in the ensuing years.
Albums such as Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), and Computer World (1981) have set a benchmark for numerous artists worldwide and nowadays form an integral chapter in the history of contemporary music.
Radical and pioneering as few other artists are, in their live performances, Kraftwerk have always utilized the latest sound and visual technology, creating multidimensional audiovisual spectacles.
For their Odeon of Herodes Atticus debut in 2023, they will present their newest audiovisual show, which has received rave reviews worldwide.
Kraftwerk’s great hits will be presented live in a unique manner specifically designed for the Roman Odeon stage.
14) 17 July 2023 [Contemporary Music] – Gilberto Gil & Family: Aquele Abraço Tour
Gilberto Gil needs no introductions.
His voice and songs have been strongly identified with the Brazilian soul and continue to captivate us.
As a musician, he was at the forefront of the Tropicália artistic movement, which defined the new Brazilian sound.
It was creatively melding musical tradition, bossa nova, rock’n’roll, and reggae, as well as bringing Brazilian music back in touch with its African roots.
As a politician, he tirelessly defended democracy and championed musical diversity.
As part of the Aquele Abraço Tour, celebrating his 60-year-old career, Gil returns to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023 for a farewell concert expected to move us deeply.
The artist is joined on stage by a group of musicians from his extended family, performing songs from Gil’s outstanding musical oeuvre.
15) 26, 27, 29, 30 July 2023 [Opera] – Greek National Opera – Paolo Carignani – Leo Muscato: Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi
The successful 2018 production of Nabucco will be revived at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in July 2023.
For this occasion, it will run for four performances, conducted by Paolo Carignani and directed by Leo Muscato.
Nabucco established Giuseppe Verdi as the greatest Italian composer of the 19th century, while also becoming a symbol of the struggle for the unification of Italy.
Although Verdi wasn’t the first composer to set texts with a strongly political character to the music, Italy’s foremost composer made quite a difference with his musical brilliance.
This brilliance invests his operas with an acutely political dimension and possesses the power to rouse the crowd.
Leo Muscato, one of the most dynamic, up-and-coming Italian opera directors, has been distinguished for his work on Verdi and Puccini.
He has staged highly successful productions at prestigious opera houses in Italy.
For this production, one of the world’s leading maestros, Italian Paolo Carignani, will take the baton, marking his first collaboration with the GNO.
16) 28, 30 August 2023 [Opera] – National Symphony Orchestra, Fons Musicalis – “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini – Maria Callas
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas’ birth, the “Lykofos” cultural organization will present the opera “Norma” at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on August 28 and 30, 2023.
Under the direction of Tom Volf and the baton of Eugene Kohn, this production is set to premiere in Athens before setting sail on a European tour.
The cast is an array of stars.
It features performers like Joyce El-Khoury, Mario Frangoulis, Theresa Carlomagno, Sava Vemić, and Alexander Marev.
Interestingly, the event has a nostalgic touch.
It honors Callas, an esteemed Greek soprano, on the same stage she graced in 1944 and 1957.
Moreover, the production holds the endorsement of the Paris-based “Maria Callas Foundation”, which emphasizes its prestige.
As for the production design, the celebrated choreographer Ersie Pittas pairs with acclaimed Greek set and costume designer Yiannis Metzikof and set designer David Negrin to promise a visually enthralling experience.
Adding to the authenticity of the music, Eugene Kohn, a pianist chosen by Maria Callas herself, will conduct the opera.
A celebration of Callas like no other!
17) 9 September 2023 [Jazz Sessions] – Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band
The iconic Woody Allen, embarks on his final European tour, visiting Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023 for a unique concert to bid farewell to his audience.
The acclaimed director, actor, writer, and musician is joined on this final tour by the famous “New Orleans Jazz Band,” led by Maestro Conal Fowkes.
It is here that Allen makes his final appearance as a musical soloist, playing authentic New Orleans classic jazz, which is simultaneously sweet, nostalgic, and tinged with both happiness and sorrow, much like his films.
However, Allen doesn’t just bring his clarinet to this tour.
He also carries with him an aura of a living legend.
He is perhaps the only American who has successfully been both a superstar and a modern philosopher.
18) 23 September 2023 [Dance] – Stars of the Opera De Paris: Tribute to Rudolph Nuregief
Paris Opera’s premier dancers will light up the Herodeion stage on September 23.
This event is a special tribute to the late, great Rudolf Nureyev, a luminary of 20th-century ballet.
The evening will be a visual feast, presenting a sweeping view of the classical repertoire.
Moreover, it will spotlight Nureyev’s masterful choreographies and iconic roles that catapulted his fame worldwide.
Nureyev, an influential figure and once a director of the Paris Opera, carved a unique path in ballet history.
With his striking technique and charisma, he left an enduring mark on the dance world.
Finally, through his innovative performances and choreographies, he broadened the scope of classical ballet, especially male dance.
It’s an evening not to be missed!
19) 25 September 2023 [Contemporary Music] – IL VOLO live
Back in 2009, Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble, appeared on the Italian Talent Show “Ti lascio una canzone”.
Their unique charm caught the attention of Michele Torpedine, the manager behind successful artists like Andrea Bocelli.
Named IL VOLO, this talented trio soon found themselves touring worldwide, and importantly, they became the first Italian artists to get signed by the prominent American label, Geffen Records.
Their debut album, IL VOLO (2010), hit platinum and stormed into the US Billboard Top Ten.
In addition, they’ve received invitations to prestigious events, such as Quincy Jones’ “We Are The World for Haiti”.
Moreover, IL VOLO’s achievements include top spots on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart and winning the Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year award.
Now, for the first time, IL VOLO is set to captivate the Greek audience with a memorable concert at the historic Herodion.
Be sure not to miss it!
20) 29 September 2023 [Contemporary Music] – Dave Evans, Justin Hayward, Maggie Reilly – Athens State Orchestra: Classic Rock 7
Prepare to relive classic rock’s glory with 60 classical musicians, rock icons, and a stunning electric band beneath the Acropolis.
Classic Rock 7 is returning to Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023, already boasting six years of sold-out performances and over 32,000 thrilled attendees.
Dave Evans, co-founder and initial vocalist of the legendary band AC/DC, is set to light up the stage.
Commemorating 50 years since AC/DC’s formation, Evans will perform iconic tracks such as “TNT” and “Highway to Hell”, along with other classics from their inaugural tour.
Also joining is Justin Hayward, the unmistakable voice of the Moody Blues.
They’ll join forces with the Athens State Orchestra to create a powerful symphonic sound.
So get ready to live the ultimate Classic Rock musical experience for the seventh year running!
Tickets and More Shows
Please note, future announcements will be made for performances with ticket booking not yet available.
Additionally, in the coming months, we also expect organizers to announce more events.
I will update the list of must-watch shows with every significant addition.
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Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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