The Athens Municipal Theatre: the first adverse years of a Syngros benefaction


  • ΑΥΡΑ ΞΕΠΑΠΑΔΑΚΟΥ University of Crete



THE present article deals with the first years of operation of the Athens Municipal Theatre, which was designed in 1886-1887 by E. Ziller, grandly inaugurated in 1888 and demolished in 1940-41 by K. Kotzias. It was the first monumental theatre house of modern Athens, funded by the so-called “national benefactor” Andreas Syngros.
The acquisition of a national theatrical scene had been the insistent demand and ardent desire of the new Athenian bourgeoisie already since King Otto’s times. Athens, in order to stand on a par with any other European capital, required its own civil architectural jewel, a monumental theatrical building, which would constitute the meeting place of high society and would testify to the new europeanised face of the Modern Greek state. The Athenian municipality and its art-loving citizens dreamed of a majestic theatre, whose scene would host brilliant performances of modern repertoire – mainly Italian and French opera and operetta – as well as choice samples of the Modern Greek opera and drama production.
It was with great gratitude, therefore, that the Athenian public received the news of the rich Andreas Syngros’ decision to assume the construction costs of the municipal theatre. However, this apparently generous benefaction seems to have benefited the benefactor himself more than anyone else: A. Syngros presented the municipality of Athens with a dysfunctional, extremely costly and lucrative for himself only enterprise. Furthermore, the edifice in its final form, being very far removed from Ziller’s initial architectural plans, due to Syngros’ consecutive economic cuts, was nothing more than a cheap and faulty construction, which failed to meet even the basic specifications of a theatre, let alone the most elementary safety standards.
The present research, based on material from primary sources of the period, attempts to investigate the causes of the adversity that doomed the Athens Municipal theatre during its short lifespan, from its foundation to its inglorious demolition. Among the string of bitter events which form its history, the investigation focuses on the first, not-so-well known years of its turbulent operation, which are marked by the ambiguous role of Andreas Syngros.

Author Biography

ΑΥΡΑ ΞΕΠΑΠΑΔΑΚΟΥ, University of Crete

Λέκτωρ Θεατρολογίας
Τμήμα Φιλολογίας



How to Cite

ΞΕΠΑΠΑΔΑΚΟΥ Α. (2016). The Athens Municipal Theatre: the first adverse years of a Syngros benefaction. Ariadne, 18, 253–284.