The Erofili Theatre is part of the Fortezza complex on top of Rethymnon’s Paleokastro Hill. This is not an ancient Odeon; it was purpose-built in the 20th century and retains the beauty and feel of an ancient odeon, whilst benefitting from modern technology for performances. I don’t know what it is about Greek open-air theatres, but even more than in regular theatres, I feel like a participant, rather than a spectator.
This theatre was named after a famous play written by a Cretan author in the XVI century, when the Venetians ruled Crete. It’s a tragedy that tells the story of Filogonos, an Egyptian king who has killed his brother, the legitimate king. This traitor has taken the throne and his dead brother’s wife. The king has a daughter, Erofili, who falls in love with a young man from the palace, Panaretos. It turns out that the young man is the son of a king, no less, but had been kidnapped by enemies and then concealed, as he would be in danger by virtue of being the rightful heir to the throne. Erofili’s love is returned by Panaretos, and they secretly marry. Of course, the murdered king’s ghost appears and vows revenge. And so, the king discovers the secret marriage of his daughter and, possessed by rage, decides to kill Panaretos. In extreme savagery, he does kill the heir to the throne, and even presents Erofili with his ripped off heart. Erofili, destroyed by grief, commits suicide, and in the end some form of justice is served when the murderous king is killed by the chorus.
The Erofili theatre has a lively programme of events, which includes classical and contemporary concerts, modern and ancient plays. To me, the most fascinating are still the ancient tragedies. It is really not about the well-known myth being represented, whose ending is known to all or most of the audience. It is about being a participant, and witnessing a hero’s decisive moment, where he battles with his conscience and faces destiny. It is really about the most human conundrum of facing one’s music and grappling with fate.
If you would like to visit Rethymnon and use the opportunity to be a true participant in a performance at the Erofili, contact Karma Travel! They will be able to advise on the current programme of events and find you tickets. Beyond these, Karma Travel can also sort out your accommodation and travel needs, and make your journey a pleasure.