Homer’s ancient tale of Odysseus’ voyage home inspires people in many different ways.
For our founder, Robert Bittlestone, it was the start of his search for Odysseus’ home on Paliki. For the Italian composer and musician Marco Grieco it was a dramatic story crying out to be told as opera.
Marco is an enthusiastic supporter of the Odysseus Unbound project. He’s been a frequent and regular visitor to Kefalonia for many years. The island – and Paliki in particuar – inspired his music, even before he knew of the Odysseus Unbound theory.
Odissea the Musical
“Since he was a small boy, my brother Massimo, who co-wrote all the lyrics of ‘Odissea, the Musical’ with me, has always been fascinated by the epic of Ulysses.” Marco explains during a recent visit to Kefalonia. “When, in now distant 2003, I was in search of a subject on which to compose the music of my first musical, he suggested Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.
I had already frequented the island of Kefalonia for several years and so I let myself be inspired by the colours, the atmospheres, the sounds that this magical and ancient place transmitted to me and I began to compose the music.”
Atheras Bay in particular made a strong impression. “Whenever I went to Paliki with my family, particularly in the Atheras Bay area, I often told my wife and children that what I saw around me was exactly what I imagined Ithaca to be every time I re-read Odyssey.”
Meeting Robert Bittlestone
Marco did not actually meet Robert Bittlestone until after he had composed the opera. But he was captivated by his ideas and they have had a lasting impact.
“Talking to Robert was extremely exciting”, Marco says, as it crystallised his own feelings that modern-day Ithaca was “out of place”.
“Realising that all those sensations I had experienced could have had a scientific basis, completely upset my life and the way I ‘live’ this wonderful island. I don’t know if the scientific discoveries you are making will one day show exactly what Robert ‘felt’ inside. But I want to tell you that what I ‘feel’ inside me tells me that Paliki is my Ithaca.
When I learned about Odysseus Unbound and Robert’s theories, it was for me, and for my brother Massimo, as if all the pieces of a puzzle fell into place.”
This summer we were able to satisfy his long-standing ambition and take him on a tour of the key sites.
“When my wife Emese and I climbed up the road that leads to what was probably the ancient port of Ithaca, I felt an emotion inside me. Intense, as if we were really going home. An indescribable feeling. I don’t know how to explain it.
Once on the plateau I looked far and wide across the whole area, I saw the Kastelli area and the place where the sea line could have been at that time… everything gave me a feeling of extreme coherence. And consistency is often synonymous with truth.”
Novel to feature Odysseus Unbound
Now Marco wants to include Odysseus Unbound in his latest project. “In the years following the composition of ‘Odissea, the Musical’ we began to write a novel,” he says, “It’s a work in progress (the title will probably be ‘The Song of the Sirens’), but an important part of the narrative focuses precisely on the theories of the Odysseus Unbound project.”