Rebetiko concert

Brandhaarden 2024

Rebetiko concert

Lena Kitsopoulou & band


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Rebetiko concert
Lena Kitsopoulou & band

Explore the history of Rebetiko, a genre that originated in the cities and ports of Greece, reflecting the lives of refugees and evolving from pre-war tales of delinquency to post-war themes of love and social phenomena. This concert promises to showcase characteristic songs spanning each Rebetiko decade, highlighting different rhythms of a genre deeply ingrained in Greek culture.

Festival Brandhaarden

Run time 110 minutes
Genre Musical theatre
Language Greek
Handouts Dutch

Dutch premiere Sat 10 Feb
Pre programme Sat 10 Feb in the ITA Salon

Rebetiko Concert

The rebetiko genre has its origins in the coming together of different people who did not fit into society or were actively rejected from it: the arrival of millions of refugees to Greece from Anatolia and groups who were treated as inferior because of their identity and class. Rebetiki songs are characterised by stories about what it means to move along the edges of society. The genre has been shaped by the convergence of different cultures and languages, beyond geographical, generational, and social boundaries.

Rebetiko flourished in cities and especially around ports in Smyrna, Constantinople, Syros, and Piraeus. Themes in pre-war rebetiko were crime, shisha lounges, drugs, and prisons. At various times during periods of political repression, rebetiko was banned. Even if the songs did not contain explicitly political lyrics, they were seen as rebellious purely because they drew attention to experiences of poverty, exile and oppression. Singing about living conditions was inherently anti-authoritarian, and by cracking down on the musical genre, the regime hoped to prevent the documentation of these stories.
After the war, rebetiko changed thematically: love, relationships and the social phenomena of the time were introduced and so the new rebetiko became a genre for all walks of life.

Rebetiko is now influenced by jazz, blues and film. Not only by American film, but also by the melodic, emotional and dance-oriented Indian cinema, which had a large following in Greece between 1950 and 1965. Much of the rebetiko retained its character as a genre for singing about hardship. Recently, new songs emerged, writing lyrics on traditional melodies about the relationship between Greece and Europe and the crisis Greece was going through.

This concert presents characteristic songs from each composer and era. Characteristic rhythms such as zeibekiko, hasapiko and tsifteteli are highlighted. These songs are still sung at every party throughout Greece - songs that even a young child today knows by heart.

About Lena Kitsopoulou

Lena Kitsopoulou, born in Athens in 1971, is a versatile artist known for her accomplishments as an actress, award-winning author, and acclaimed playwright. Graduating from the Art Theater Drama School in 1994, she has garnered recognition for her short story collections, such as Bats, and her internationally performed novella M.A.I.R.O.U.L.A. Lena has also directed plays that earned prestigious awards, like Athanasios Diakos – The Return, and her diverse artistic endeavors include directing works by prominent playwrights like Federico García Lorca.


musicians Dasho Kourti, Dimitris Sintos, Anastasis Bitzios, Babis Papadimitriou
vocals Lena Kitsopoulou
photography Christos Sarris

12th Edition


Brandhaarden is an international theatre festival that brings performances by remarkable theatre makers from abroad to Amsterdam. The festival offers a unique overview of one creator, house, writer, region or theme. Previous editions have spotlighted directors such as Katie Mitchell, Milo Rau and the Rimini Protokoll collective, writer Édouard Louis, the Southern European region (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) and city theatres such as Münchner Kammerspiele, Volksbühne Berlin and Peter Brooks Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.

Discover Brandhaarden 2024


The Onassis Stegi in Athens, serving as the hub of the Onassis Foundation’s cultural activities, encourages the talent and energy of local and international artists to thrive and starts conversations that aim to shake and shape society. Onassis Stegi is a center of global contemporary culture that, through a series of initiatives and works, promotes dialogue about democracy, social and environmental justice, racial and gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

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