The aim of the project is to locate and record Greek translations and adaptations of French melodramas which were performed by Greek repertory companies ad nauseam in the 19th century.
Project Director: Ioulia Pipinia
Description and aims of project
Melodrama was one of the most popular theatre genres of the 19th century. It gained momentum towards the end of the 18th century and is linked to the political and social developments of the revolutionary age. Its emergence initiated a long period of prosperity for minor theatres across Europe. For approximately a century, melodrama reigned on the commercial stages of Western cities. Almost daily, theatre companies performed old and new melodramas, either original or adaptations, which excited and thrilled the public.
In spite of its late arrival, melodrama and specifically French mélodrame was equally popular in Greece. The genre did not flourish in the newly founded Hellenic state during its prime, due to different historical conditions. However, in the latter half of the 19th century, Greek theatre companies, which toured the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, profitably included translations of the French melodramas in their repertoire. Under the name of “mythestorematiko drama” (‘fictional’ or ‘novel drama’) a significant number of French melodramas was performed regularly for Greek speaking audiences in multicultural cities and capitals such as Istanbul (Constantinople), Izmir (Smyrna), Alexandria, Cairo, Odessa as well as the larger towns of Greece, such as Athens, Patras, Ermoupolis.
The aim of the project was to locate and study the Greek translations and adaptations of French melodramas, whether in manuscript, printed or performed, primarily in the 19th century. The research was conducted in archives such as the Manuscript Collection of the Theatre Museum and libraries such as the National Library of Greece and Gennadeios Library. Catalogues of printed books and online resources (e.g. British Library, gallica/bnf) as well as listings of 19th century plays and performances were also filed in an attempt to gain an overall appreciation of the genre’s influenc on 19th century Greek drama and theatre.