The 30th Ancient Greek Theater Festival of Carnuntum began on Saturday, at the amphitheatre of the ancient Roman city of Carnuntum – today’s Austrian city of Petronell. Legendary Greek actress Melina Mercouri was honoured by the festival as the ‘most important Greek woman of the 20th-century’, who first conceived and instituted the term ‘European Capital of Culture’.

The festival itself had been founded 30 years ago by Greek-Italian visual artist and director Piero Bordin.

Launched on Saturday, it kicked off with a poetic-musical journey into the roots of European civilisation, titled ‘Born Of Myths’. Created by Austrian theatre director Helga David and German composer Hans-Gunter Heumann, the presentation included texts dating back 2,500 years and Melina Mercouri songs, with conductor Konstandinos Diminakis at the podium. Diminakis is also the artistic director of Vienna’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

READ MORE: ‘If there was ever a voice of Greece, it has to be Melina Mercouri’

The festival runs until August 23, includes three performances by the famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London, an archaic production based on renown Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz titled ‘The Recognized Unknown’, and a production by festival director Piero Bordin titled Summit Meeting, with contemporary references and parallels to the so-called ‘conference of the many Augustus’, also known as the Carnuntum Conference.

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The Carnuntum Conference is where Emperor Diocletian called a meeting of emperors on 11 November, 308 AD, in order to reorganise the system of tetrarchy (the regional Augustus rulers) and to bring stability to the Empire where Emperor Constantine emerged as the new strong leader. This event paved the way for the transition from the many ancient Gods to the rapid spread of Christianity, and this has been observed by Piero Bordin, who researched it extensively, having been born by a Greek mother in Vienna.