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A Word From the Composer

The looting and destruction of the marble sculptures of the Acropolis in Athens, Venus de Milo, Apollo at Bassae, Delphi, and so many others in various parts of Greece has preoccupied mankind through the centuries. The reason being that these treasures are considered by all part of their heritage as well. The most significant interest by the international community was observed during the looting of the Parthenon Marbles from the British ambassador Lord Elgin. This abomination occurred during the first decade of 1800 AD, when Greece was under Turkish occupation, and thus was unable to react.

Many important personalities intervened at the time, particularly in the European circles of “intellectuals”, not government officials, such as the British Lord Byron, the Frenchman Ernest Renan, the British poet Shelley, the French Chateaubriand etc. The reaction was and still remains strong, because for the first time we not only had the straight out theft of marble sculptures - which even back then the phenomenon of antiquity smuggling was strongly evident and had begun with the fall of Greece into the hands of the Roman Empire (even Nero was seen steeling marbles from Delphi) - , but the destruction of one of the most perfect works of art, namely the Parthenon. The work of Phidias's Iktinou and Kalikratis, the work of democracy, the Golden Age.

The Parthenon has suffered many losses in it’s long history, beginning from the bombing by the Venentian General Francesco Morosini to the Turkish fighting and vandalism. The difference here is that for the first time ever we see the removal of sculptures for economic benefit. That is exactly what Lord Elgin did. He destroyed a work of art, namely the Parthenon, so he could sell it to the British government for profit!

Today, there are signed UN resolutions to have these stolen artifacts returned, because without them the work of art we call “Parthenon” is not, and will never be, complete to the extent possible after all it has undergone. The words of Edward Clark (a British art collector), after the catastrophic detachment of the marbles, were very true. He said: "To the world's ambassadors and rulers, all the riches and wisdom of states will never be able to restore the brutal damage done."

However, British authorities, including Prime Minister Cameron, believe that since they hold them, the marbles are theirs! Let me remind to everyone that uses this argument, however, that in the recent ECJ ruling on appeal by Mrs Loizidou against the Turkish occupation forces, while she was claiming her property, ownership does not mean property! Especially when ownership is the result of the transaction between fences (Official British Authorities) and antiquities (Lord Elgin, ambassador during the robbery, Great Britain).

Many well known personalities have written statements and editorials, which condemn the criminal act of Elgin. Despite this, there continues to be a negative attitude by the official authorities in Britain to finally return the stolen artifacts to their place of origin. Unfortunately, the current authorities continue to work as their ancestors did, basically as common thieves of antiquities, despite the UN resolutions on these issues.

Many books and works have also been written by prominent personalities of the world demonstrating serious legal arguments, aside from the moral ones, which advocate the immediate return of the Parthenon Marbles.

There have been, and will continue to be conferences, and other serious efforts, focused on the return of the stolen sculptures. In modern history, Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister of Culture at the time, led the last major unsuccessful effort to obtain the safe return of the marbles statues to Athens. Greece, by completing their brand new state of the art Acropolis Museum, finally eliminated Britain’s last argument against the return of the statues. The British initially argued that Greece did not have an adequate space for their protection, but Greece has answered that argument by building a new home for these artifacts, and yet the British government has not even initiated their return, even-though formal promises have been made.

It is because of all the above mentioned reasons, I decided to compose the opera entitled "Opus Elgin: The Destruction of the Parthenon" to add yet another form of pressure on the British government to return these marbles home.

Through my music I am attempting to constantly remind my listeners, throughout the world, of the story of the looting and destruction of the Parthenon marbles by the British and maybe someday, someone will really listen...

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