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College of Charleston's Yiorgos Vassilandonakis debuts new work at Greek National Opera

"The Papess Joanne"

"The Papess Joanne," a new opera by College of Charleston faculty member Yiorgos Vassilandonakis, debuts at Greek National Opera on March 8. Greek National Opera/provided

A newly commissioned work by composer and College of Charleston faculty member Yiorgos Vassilandonakis will debut on Sunday, March 8 at The Greek National Opera on the occasion of the organization’s 80th anniversary.

"The Papess Joanne" will be performed at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Kallithea, Greece. Additional performances will be held March 15 and 22.

An associate professor, music theory/composition in the department of music at the College of Charleston, Vassilandonakis based his composition of "The Papess Joanne" on the controversial 1866 novel by the Greek writer Emmanouel Rhoides.

"Commissions for newly written operas from living composers are extraordinarily rare," said Edward Hart, chair of the music department at the College of Charleston. "We are very fortunate to have a composer of such international renown on our faculty here."

Vassilandonakis, a native of Greece who emigrated to the United States in 1989, composed the two-act, 15-scene work within a two-year period. “The compositional approach is modern, free and open to music elements, techniques and processes free from time or style limits," he said in a statement appearing in the organization's websites.

In 2008, the organization commissioned a one-act opera, "Dance with Me," by the composer.

Follow Maura Hogan on Twitter at @msmaurahogan.

Maura Hogan is the arts critic at The Post and Courier. She has previously written about arts, culture and lifestyle for The New York Times, Gourmet, Garden & Gun, among other publications.

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