Dean Kalimniou presents ‘Pontus the Opera’ lecture in Melbourne

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This year’s Pontian Genocide Memorial Lecture, held on 16 May 2024, in a packed Greek Centre in Melbourne, was presented by author, lawyer and Greek Genocide recognition activist Dean Kalimniou.

Kalimniou justified his choice of topic by stating that one can only measure the magnitude of what was lost during the perpetration of one of the greatest crimes against humanity by also considering the cultural heritage of the victims of the genocide.

dean kalimniou pontus of opera (2)

He stated that the inspiration for the choice of topic came from the discovery of a photograph of the Opera House of Trapezounta, constructed by the Greeks of the city in 1912, not long before the commencement of the genocide, a building that confounds the stereotypes of Pontian culture often disseminated both by the Hellenic discourse and Pontian organisations.

dean kalimniou pontus of opera (2)
dean kalimniou pontus of opera

As such, attention was drawn to the popular perception of Pontus within the broader Greek national discourse, often perceived as a secluded enclave with its distinct cultural traits. The lecturer sought to challenge this notion by exploring its historical interconnectedness, demonstrating how Pontus has fascinated the Western psyche, becoming a muse for the creation of opera and classical music.

In a witty examination of the operas of Mozart, Vivaldi, Offenbach and Hesse which are set in Pontus, Kalimniou fascinated the audience through a discussion as to how the stereotype of Pontus as the ‘other’ is both augmented and confounded in such works, leading to an analysis of externally and internally imposed Orientalism and how this affects identity formation.

READ MORE: Melbourne program released for events commemorating the Greek genocide

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