Saturday, 28 January 2012

Corfu then and now 7: The Palace film theatre

   It is a phenomenon of our times: many film theatres had been closed down because fewer and fewer people prefered to watch a film at the cinema. The reasons? Firstly, it was the growing popularity of video clubs in the early 80s but the second and most fatal one, was the illegal internet downloading. Nowadays, quite a few people spend their night out at the movies. 
   One victim of that crisis, was Palace film theatre on Georgiou Theotoki street. As far as I remember, it was the biggest cinema in town. It closed down in late 1998 to become a "Marks & Spencer" shop which, in my opinion, it is of low quality compared to those found in Britain. The Palace theatre had been used as a concert venue as well. As late as the early 90s, many local wind bands and orchestras performed there, as an alternative venue to that of the Municipal theatre across the street. 
  I loved the neon sign with the theatre's name written in greek using a kind of font popular in the 60s. That neon sign survived intact until its last day. The last movie I watched there was the 1998 film "Great Expectations" starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethen Hawke but I will never forget the long queues that blocked the central throughfare traffic when "Titanic" was screened. 
   Below, there is a vintage 1960s picture showing the film theatre with people outside waiting for the next screening and a second one showing the site as it is today,

   I found a third photo showing a bit of its interior, as it was in the 70s during an electional campaign.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A documentary about our patron saint

   Here is an interesting documentary about Corfu's patron Saint Spyridon, originally produced and broadcasted on an ukranian channel but translated in greek by a local channel. By watching it you can tell how important is our saint in our lives and how much we love him.

-For a Saint Spyridon's bio, read this post:

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bizet and Joplin at the theatre

   Tonight the Philharmonic Society of Corfy symphonic orchestra gave a wonderful concert. A diverse selection of music works were skillfully performed like the Rodion Shchedrin/Bizet "Carmen" suite and Gunther Schuller "Journey to Jazz". Four ragtimes, specifically arranged for symphonic orchestra were presented, including Scott Joplin's "The entertainer" theme heard in the famous 1973 american film "The Sting".
  Here are three short videos from tonight's concert. The first two are taken from the "Carmen" suite while the last one is "The entertainer" ragtime.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The german origin of the "Gastouriotikos" traditional dance

   Few corfiots know that the famous Gastouriotikos dance is not a corfiot one but its music had been composed by a berliner named Franz Meissner in 1892. This song became popular in Corfu by Kaiser Wilhelm II since 1908, when he was visiting Achilion palace in Gastouri village for his summer holidays. As he loved the song and he supported the local Philharmonic Band, he asked them to play it for him by giving them its music score. Because of the fact that its rhythm matches the corfiot dance steps, the locals adopted it originally renaming it "Gastouri Kaiser dance".
   Below you can hear the original as well as the greek version of this tune.

The original theme named "Im Grunewald ist Holzauktion"

The "Gastouriotikos" dance 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The southern side of Town Hall square

   The southern side of this monumental and beautiful square is dominated by the Bank of Greece building. This edifice had been built in 1754 on the site of the 17th century Latin archibishop's residence which had been destructed by an earthquake. Originally, this building had three floors and housed various governmental services but the Nazi german bombs almost made it collapse. After the second world war, this building was rebuilt having only two floors.

   Right at the base of the grand set of scales leading to the entrance, there is a nice spring but no water runs from it and it is infested by tag graffitis. 

   At the right side of the Bank of Greece building, there is a nice dead end street which features some old traditional corfiot buildings dating back centuries ago. 

   The view from that side of the square feels like being drawned by a painter. The town hall dominates the view, while it can be seen the Saint Spyridon campanile, Duomo catedral and in the background, the tallest mountain in Corfu, mount Pantrokrator.

   The western side of the Bank of Greece building is quite interesting. There is a nice venetian arch leading to the back side of the edifice and a plaque attached on the building's west side bearing the latin numeral and words "A FUNDAMENTIS EREC  S. A. MDCCLIII", which in arabic numbers is year 1754 and commemorates its contruction. 

   Next to the edifice's western side, there are few more old buildings dating back from the venetian period. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A 90s greek videoclip shot around Corfu Island

    Kostas Bigalis, a known greek singer who has a series of hits back in the 90s, had shot the video for his 1995 song "Varkáda" ("Boating ride") in various corfiot locations like old Corfu town, Kanoni and Kaiser's bridge near Benitses. 
   It is a nice happy summer song, back from the era when greek pop music was flourishing and unpretending. Here is the rare video:

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The old San Giacomo theatre

   The old San Giacomo theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Greece. It was was built in the 1680s as a "loggia" (a noblemen's club) but in the 1720s it was converted to a theatre. It had been named after San Giacomo catholic cathedral church next door. Its formal name was "Nobile teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù".

   In the beginning, only theatre plays had been staged but in 1733 an opera was performed there for the first time. It was A. Aurelli's ''Gerone, tiranno di Siracusa". The operas flourished in the theatre but in 1893, the building became the city hall and a new Municipal theatre had been built in the new part of town. During the Second World war the precious theatre historical archives had been destroyed by Luftwaffe raids. 

    The theatre attracted many italian musicians and composers which helped generating an appreciation for music among the locals and led to the apprearence of important greek composers like Nikolaos Mantzaros and Spyridon Xyndas.

   The building exterior is ornate. It had been built with corfiot stone in rennaisance style and its façade is adorned with  baroque busts and insciptions. On the eastern side of the building, a big statue of venetian governor Morosini and his offsprings dominate the view.

   The southern side, facing the Town Hall square, features the main entrance to the building. Above the vaulted main door and windows, busts of ancient greek deities and the local coat of arms with the ancient corfiot ship featured as a symbol of corfiot glory, make the building look special dominating the area around it.

   The old San Giacomo theatre, has always been a focal point of our town, either being a noblemen's club and opera or a town hall. It had been the first opera theatre in Greece, long before Athens and Patras build their own ones. At the same time, it helped creating a national classical music school which had been nonexistent back then in ottoman occupied mainland Greece.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

   Dear followers,

   Happy New Year with love, peace, prosperity! I wish 2012 will be better year than the previous one for my country.