George Petrou is the artistic director of the renowned Athens-based orchestra Armonia Atenea, with which he tours and records extensively, performing both on period or modern instruments. Aside from conducting a wide range of symphonic music he has gained a reputation as an operatic conductor, with emphasis on the historically informed practices, not only in baroque music but also in later repertoire.
George Petrou was born in Greece. He studied piano at the Athens Conservatoire, and at the Royal College and the Royal Academy of Music in London. He enjoyed a successful career as a concert pianist but gradually turned to conducting and quickly gained attention establishing a flourishing international career. He has particular interest in music of the 18th century but is equally at home in the classical and the romantic repertoire.
Εngagements for 2015-16 included Handel's Arminio at Staatstheater Karlsruhe,Rossini’s Cenerentola at Teatro Verdi, Trieste, Cherubini's Medea at Opera de Nice, Handel's Scipione at the International Handel Festspiel, Halle (Bad Lauchstadt),Cole Porter's Kiss me Kate (in his own stage direction) at the Megaron, Athens, Rufus Wainright's Primadonna, in a symphonic/visual version at the Athens Festival, Magic flute at the Greek National Opera,Philip Glass's in the Penal Colony at the Onassis Cultural center.
Recent Opera engagements include Handel’s Serse at the Royal Swedish Opera, Rossini’sSemiramide in Opera de Nice, Monteverdi’s Ritorno d’ Ulisse coupled withNono’s Non hai camin, hai che caminar at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, Hasse’sSiroe at the Opera Royale de Versailles and the Athens festival, Purcell <>’s King Arthur as a co-production with la Monnaie in Brussels and also Amsterdam, Brugge, Antwerp, Breda,Mozart’s Mitridate at Nationaltheater Mannheim, Handel’sSemele at Opera de Nice, Rossini’s Cenerentola at the Greek National Opera, Handel’sAlessandro at Opéra Royal de Versailles, Megaron of Athens, International Handel Festspiel in Halle, Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Opéra Vichy, Theater an der Wien, Salle Pleyel Paris and Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Mayr’s Ginevra Di Scozia at Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo and Ingolstadt with the Muenchner Rundfunkorchester,Vivaldi’s Il Farnace at Opéra National du Rhin, Strasbourg and at Opéra Royal de Versailles, Handel’s Semele at Stadttheater Bern, Rossini’sIl Barbiere Di Siviglia, Verdi’s Nabucco, Haydn’s L’Isola Disabitata and Theophrastos Sakellaridis’ operettas Pik Nik, Halima and The Godson in Athens.
Several of George Petrou’s biggest successes have been in operas by Gluck. He has conductedAlceste (at the Megaron of Athens with Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role and at Oper Leipzig in a new production by P. Konwitzny), Orphee at the Greek National Opera, Iphigénie en Aulide at the newly built Onassis Cultural Centre and the 1st modern revival ofIl trionfo di Clelia at the Megaron, to great acclaim.
Earlier assignments include Donizetti’s Anna Bolena as well as Handel’s Theodora in Athens, Lully’s Phaeton and A. Scarlatti’s Il Tigrane at the Saarländisches Staatstheater Saarbrücken, Handel’sOreste, Arianna in Creta, Tamerlano,and Giulio Cesare.
In concert he collaborates with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, the Concerto Koln, the Berner Symphonieorchester, the Athens State Orchestra, the Bratislava Philharmonic, the Musica Viva (Moscow).
George Petrou has a very busy recording schedule. Recent releases for Decca include Hasse’sSiroe , a Countertenor Gala and a collection of baroque arias called Baroque Divas all with Armonia Atenea. His recent multiple prizewinning Decca releases includeBeethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus, Gluck’s tenor arias with Daniel Behle, Hasse’sRokoko (a collection of arias and concertos with M. E. Cencic) and Handel’sAlessandro. Additionaly, Mayr’s operas Ginevra and Lodoiska for OEHMS Classics (with the Münchner Runfunkorchester).
He has also recorded Handel’s Oreste, Arianna in Creta, Alessandro Severo, Tamerlano and Giulio Cesare for MDG.
All of them have received with the highest critical acclaim from the international press (Choc-Monde de la Musique, Gramophone-Editor’s Choice, Diapason d’Or, BBC Mag/Recording of the Month, CD of the week-Sunday Times, Recording of the month in Musicweb, Crescendo Bestenliste Platz 1, etc.). Tamerlano received the prestigious ECHO KLASSIC 2008, and Alessandro the Recording of the Year at the International Opera Awards, and the was voted by the veiwers of Mezzo as opera of the Year 2013 recieving more than 250,000 votes.
Images © Ilias Sakalak Text courtesy of Parnassus Arts Productions