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How did a Raven end up in the belly of the Whale?

A musical fairy tale for nine voices and chamber ensemble



The Raven –a god with a human soul– created the whole world. Animals, humans, trees, flowers. One day, as he was travelling around this brand new world in a canoe, he saw a whale resting on the surface of the water and wondered: “How would it feel like to be inside the belly of a whale?” So, as the whale opened its mouth, he got out of his canoe and sneaked into its belly.
To his surprise, what he saw inside the whale’s belly was a beautiful girl dancing. Enchanted by her beauty, he asked her to run away with him. But the girl was the whale’s Soul and she said to the Raven that she couldn’t leave. Blinded by love, the Raven forgot her words at once. He cut the ropes that were keeping her tied to the beast’s belly and seized her. He put her on his back and flew off. But as he was flying away, all of a sudden he noticed that the whale was dying and that the girl was getting smaller and smaller, until she too perished forever.
The Raven was sad. He realised that in this world everything lives and dies, and that everything that breathes and moves has a heart and a soul. He stayed next to the whale’s carcass grieving for many weeks. At some point, sad as he was, he started dancing and singing until gradually the pain grew weaker. Then he spread his wings again and flew away.
The Raven’s tears were the first tears to be shed on earth. His dance and song were the first dance and the first song in this world.


Director's note

Dimitra Trypani notes: “The performance belongs to the genre of contemporary music theatre and is musically marked by intense multistylistic elements. Its approximately 130 child and grown-up performers take on multiple performative ‘tasks’: polyphonic singing, a strictly defined narration (rhythmic and melodic), and body percussion. The main narrators are the adult participants: the teachers, the coordinators of the programme and seven singers. The over one hundred child performers –students of the fourth, fifth and sixth grade of primary school– sing the six reworked songs and narrate parts of the story in a particular tone or through the creation of soundscapes, always in constant conversation with Yorgos Nikopoulos’ wonderful animation that accompanies the performance.”



The Learning & Participation Department of the Greek National Opera presents the musical fairy tale How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale? exclusively on GNO TV. The performance will be available for free on until 31 August 2022. It is the artistic fruit of an educational programme of the same title that was conducted this year in collaboration with seven primary schools of Attica. The programme, through modern and innovative tools, introduced dozens of educators and primary school students into the world of music theatre, as it is today served by the Greek National Opera.
Over 130 children and adult performers take part in the musical performance How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale?, which is based on a traditional myth of the Inuit tribe (the Eskimos of Alaska, Greenland and Canada). Polyphonic folk songs, nature soundscapes and contemporary musical idioms compose a riveting musical fairy tale that converses with the art of animation, offering a rare viewing and listening experience to the audience. The performance is conducted and curated by Dimitra Trypani and the musical fairy tale’s score was composed by Ismini Gyftaki-Beck.
This production and the creation of GNO TV are made possible through a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [] that supports the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.


How was the Raven created?

The performance How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale? is based on a traditional myth of the Inuit tribe – the Eskimos of Alaska, Greenland and Canada. The myth describes how the first song and the first dance were born into this world. The performance consists of two different yet intertwined music works, which create a coherent, vibrant musical fairy tale. The first work that provided the inspiration and the ideal context for this performance is Ismini Gyftaki-Beck’s The Raven and the Whale, a contemporary musical fairy tale for nine voices and a small chamber ensemble. The second one, which serves as a musico-theatrical accompaniment of the first one, is a cycle of six polyphonic traditional folk songs from Greece and abroad, reworked by Dimitra Trypani.


About the animation

The animation emerged from the need to approach the sensitivity that runs through Ismini Beck’s and Dimitra Trypani’s musical composition, but also from the story that inspired the performance How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale?.
Based on this story, we embarked on an aesthetic quest for traditional art forms, such as the Inuit sculpture, origami creations, and illustrations of dancing figures inspired by animals. Although the Inuit art is, in its own right, distinctive and rich –both its sculpture and painting–, the special way in which the story shows how vulnerable its heroes are in their relationships and how fragile the inner world of each of them is, led us to something equally fragile and sensitive: origami, the art of paper folding. For this reason, the animation characters and sets look like origami creations, preserving some references to the Inuit art, mostly to the way they depict animals in sculptures. Throughout the performance, images converse with music and narration, aiming to present those things in the story, which are implied yet not described.



The education programme behind the performance

The new pilot, artistic and pedagogical programme How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale? was launched by the GNO Learning & Participation Department in September 2020. The GNO issued an open call for primary schools in the Region of Attica to participate in the programme, aspiring to bring educators and primary school students in contact with the fascinating world of music theatre through the use of modern and pioneering tools. The goals of the programme, which lasted a total of eight months, were to acquire new artistic and technical skills, to renew and improve –through these new skills– the quality of school events that educators prepare every year together with their students, and also to introduce educators and students into the creative process of the staging of music theatre performances. The performance How Did A Raven End Up in the Belly of the Whale? is the artistic result of the complete cycle of workshops that were held this year, with the participation of seven schools, nine teachers and approximately 110 students of the fourth, fifth and sixth grade of primary school.


Creative team – Cast
Planning, artistic supervision, folk songs arrangement, conductor: Dimitra Trypani
Music, text: Ismini Gyftaki-Beck
Video, animation: Yorgos Nikopoulos
Music preparation: Nikos ZiaziarisSophia KetentzianAliki Siousti
Body percussion training: Antonis Vassiliadis
Filming, editing: Grigoris Panopoulos

Sound recording, editing: Studio 19, Kostas Bokos

Musicians: Sophia Alifieraki (flute), Angeliki Kasda (violin), Despina Spanou (cello), Elias Algaer (double bass),

Yorgos Kasavetis (percussion), Dimitra Kokkinopoulou (piano)

Polyphonic ensemble:
Drossiella Kaloudi, Liana Kokosi, Vivi Sykioti, Vassilios Gounelas, Chryssostomos Kalogridakis, Andreas Karaoulis, Marinos Tarnanas

With the participation of teachers and students from schools of Attica

THE OX logo

WATCH THE FILM! an attempt to interpret and see through the crucial situation in which a large part of the planet has been in for the past years. The initial idea was conceived in 2011-2012 in Athens, where the signs of the crisis were irrefutable and harsh. With Midas’ myth and its symbolic elements as a starting point this play resembles shadow puppetry. All the characters are represented as shadow symbols, like ancient forms that draw their inspiration from a wide range of civilizations in which these elements were used, from the ancient Greek black-figure pottery to the shadow play in Bali and the Japanese Bunraku...

...είναι μια προσπάθεια ανάγνωσης και ερμηνείας της κρίσιμης κατάστασης στην οποία βρίσκεται μεγάλο μέρος του πλανήτη τα τελευταία χρόνια. Η πρώτη ιδέα συνελήφθη την περίοδο 2011 - 2012 στην Αθήνα, εκεί όπου τα σημάδια της κρίσης ήταν πια αδιάψευστα και σκληρά. Εκκινώντας από τον μύθο του Μίδα και διατηρώντας τα συμβολικά του στοιχεία, το έργο αυτό αποδίδεται σαν ένα έργο σκιών. Όλοι οι χαρακτήρες του έργου αναπαρίστανται σαν σκιές σύμβολα, σαν αρχετυπικές φόρμες που αντλούν την έμπνευσή τους από ένα μεγάλο φάσμα πολιτισμών στους οποίους
χρησιμοποιούνται αυτά τα στοιχεία, από την αρχαία ελληνική μελανόμορφη αγγειογραφία μέχρι το θέατρο σκιών του Μπαλί και το Ιαπωνικό Bunraku...




When the story begins, the aged inhabitants of an imaginary land, which is presented as an infinite meadow, are going through a tough test, during which they have to renounce their connection to the Earth and their crops and accept its transformation into a golden kingdom. By adding fertilizer to their crops anything they cultivate from now on will grow gold. They won’t be able to eat what they cultivate and will only drink water instead, until everything turns into gold. The crops, the dirt, the water, themselves, everything becomes a golden landscape. This tough test in which they’re being asked to perform the afore-mentioned command, seems to have a tremendous toll on them. Secluded from any social interaction, with one and only farm animal as their companion and their land, which is being bequeathed to them generation after generation, they can’t help but accept the commands ordered by the power. The chronic obedience to something unknown, to the faceless enforcement of power frightens them and makes them incapable of making their own decisions and resisting. The only character that resists in such a way and cannot comprehend what power is, is a little girl who lives in another dimension of this world’s reality, without being intimidated by the danger dominating the entire kingdom. At nights, when the system pauses as programmed, she meets with six other children and together, liberated from the surrounding seclusion and ignorance, filled with an instinctive primitive spark,
with their secret orgiastic actions they show that the overturn has already begun.


Οι ηλικιωμένοι κάτοικοι ενός φανταστικού τόπου που παρουσιάζεται με την μορφή ενός απέραντου χωραφιού, την στιγμή που ξεκινάει η ιστορία περνάνε μια σκληρή δοκιμασία κατά την οποία πρέπει να απαρνηθούν την σύνδεσή τους με τη γη και την καλλιέργειά της και να δεχθούν την μετάλλαξή της σε ένα χρυσό βασίλειο. Ρίχνοντας ένα λίπασμα στα σπαρτά τους, ό,τι σπέρνουν στο εξής θα φυτρώνει χρυσό. Βέβαια δεν θα μπορούν να τρέφονται από αυτά που παράγουν παρά θα πίνουν μονάχα νερό. Μέχρι να χρυσώσουν όλα, τα σπαρτά, το χώμα, το νερό, οι ίδιοι, να γίνουν όλοι ένα χρυσό τοπίο. Αυτή η δύσκολη δοκιμασία στην οποία καλούνται να εκτελέσουν την παραπάνω εντολή, δείχνει να έχει τρομερές συνέπειες επάνω τους. Αποκομμένοι από οποιαδήποτε κοινωνική συναναστροφή, έχοντας μόνο ένα αγροτικό ζώο για συντροφιά και τη γη τους που κληροδοτείται από γενιά σε γενιά, δεν μπορούν παρά να δεχθούν τις εντολές της εξουσίας. Η χρόνια υπακοή σε κάτι άγνωστο, σε μια απρόσωπη επιβολή εξουσίας τους καθιστά φοβισμένους, ανίκανους να αποφασίσουν για την τύχη τους και να αντισταθούν. Μόνος χαρακτήρας που αντιστέκεται με τρόπο τέτοιο που δεν μπορεί να αντιληφθεί η εξουσία είναι ένα μικρό κορίτσι που χωρίς να νιώθει τον κίνδυνο και τον φόβο που απλώνεται στο υπόλοιπο βασίλειο, ζει παράλληλα και μια δεύτερη πραγματικότητα. Τις νύχτες, όταν το υπόλοιπο σύστημα πέφτει σε προγραμματισμένη παύση, συναντιέται με άλλα έξι παιδιά και απελευθερωμένα όλα από την κατάσταση απομόνωσης και άγνοιας, γεμάτα από μια ενστικτώδη και πρωτόγονη ζωντάνια, με την κρυφή τους οργιώδη δράση δείχνουν πως τα πράγματα έχουν ήδη αρχίσει να ανατρέπονται.


Διαβάστε τις κριτικές που γράφτηκαν για το THEOX


Μάσκες Νίκος Κόκκαλης ΙΙ Βackstage THE OX
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Director / Producer / Story Giorgos Nikopoulos
Music Composer and Conductor Dimitra Trypani
Masks Nikos Kokkalis
OLD MAN Dimitris Politis
OX Natali Mandila
GIRL Nancy Manatou
OLD WOMAN Isidora Zolota
ANGEL Natassa Karalia
CONTROLLER Spiros Skordos
KIDS Nancy Manatou, Isidora Zolota, Dimitris Politis
Character Voices Giorgos Nikopoulos

Character & Environmental Design Giorgos Nikopoulos
Mask Design Nikos Kokkalis
Mask Construction Assistant Stefanos Kypriotis
Costume Design The hole performing team

Costume Materials Margaritis Skolarikis
Environmental Materials Carolina Samoilis, Nikos Biskos, Nena Nikopoulou
Special Construction Materials, AFOI KOURTI, Alekos Martinis, Stamatios Apergis

Giorgos Nikopoulos
Assistant Choreographer Natali Mandila

Camera Gregoris Panopoulos
Script Morpho Galopoulou
Set Lighting Gregoris Panopoulos, Antonis Chondrogiannis
Chef Electrician, Antonis Chondrogiannis
Assistant Electrician, Nick Krasopoulos
Green Screen Supplies, Giannis Piralis
Set Photographers, Giannis Dimitras, Vicky Grintzou

Sound Recording / Sound Design / Mixing Giorgos Gargalas
Sound Mastering Christos Megas
Foley Artist / Mixer / Editor Giorgos Gargalas
Voice over recorded & edited by Giorgos Nikopoulos
All Sounds & Music recorded at EPHMEE Studio
Department of Music Studies / Ionian University / Corfu

Flutes Ria Georgiadis
Doublebass Ntinos Manos
Percussion Dimitra Trypani
Sofia Ketentzian, Kiki Kerzeli , Sofia Bardoutsou , Evgenia Pavlidou, Dimitra Trypani,
Antonis Parcharidis, Konstantinos Chirdaris
Friendly flute participation by Sofia Alifieraki
Orchestration Dimitra Trypani
Chorus Consultant Miranda Kaldi
Music Recording & Mixing Giorgos Gargalas
Music Editor Giorgos Gargalas, Dimitra Trypani
Music Mastering, Christos Megas

Translations Nandia Gregoriadou, Dimitra Trypani

Compositing Giorgos Nikopoulos
Coloring Giorgos Nikopoulos, Michalis Gkatzogias
DCP Authoring artcut

Camera Michalis Kapetanidis
Sound Recording Nikos Moustakas

CATERING / Taverna XAGIATI, Cafe Arkouda

Production Giorgos Nikopoulos / BAUBO Productions
Co-production artcut
Supported by Garage Performing Arts Center
Supported by O.S.C.S.
Supported by Ionian University - Faculty of Music & Audiovisual Arts
InArts - Interactive Art Research Lab
Supported by Greek Film Center

58th Thessaloniki International Film Festival Competition (Thessaloniki, Greece)
3rd FICMARC Caribbean Sea Film Festival (Nueva Esparta, CARIBBEAN)
13th Athens Animfest (Special Screening)
2018 DFK New Wave (Kolkata, WEST BENGAL)
2nd San Antonio Independent Film Festival (ECUADOR)
4th Tlanchana Festival (Metepec, MEXICO)
XVI Cine Pobre FF 2018 (La Paz, MEXICO)
3rd FICII INCA Imperial International Film Festival (Lima, PERU)
2018 Near Nazareth Festival NNF (Afula, ISRAEL)
4th Montevideo World Film Festival (Montevideo, URUGUAY)
3rd Sacramento Underground Film & Arts Festival (Sacramento, USA)
European Film Festival Mainstream & Underground (Moscow, RUSSIA)
11th Animasyros International Animation Film Festival + Agora (Syros, GREECE)

Best Experimental Film 2018 (3rd FICMARC Caribbean Sea Film Festival)
Special Mention (ASIFA Hellas)
Best International Feature Animation Film (DFK New Wave 2018,WEST BENGAL)
Best Original Score (DFK New Wave 2018, WEST BENGAL)
Best Sound Design (DFK New Wave 2018, WEST BENGAL)
Best Experimental Film 2018 (2nd San Antonio Independent Film Festival, ECUADOR)
Honorable Mention (3rd Experimental Forum, LOS ANGELES)
Special Mention (24th Athens International Film Festival)

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Τα Μουστοκούλουρα του Αγησίλαγου

του Δημήτρη Μπασλάμ

Ταινία μικρού μήκους animation διάρκειας 22' 30", 2014
Τεχνική: 3D animation, stop motion, vector
Μέσα στο δάσος με τις κερασιές και τις κοντές βερικοκιές, όπως πολλοί θα ξέρετε ζούσε και ο λαγός, ο κύριος Αγησίλαγος. Επίσης ίσως ξέρετε πως ήταν φημισμένος μάγειρας, σεφ κανονικός, πολλάκις βραβευμένος... Ο πρωταγωνιστής του Δημήτρη Μπασλάμ σε αυτήν την ιστορία προσπαθεί να φτιάξει μουστοκούλουρα. Μουστοκούλουρα... Άλλη μια φορά τα υλικά: Νερό, Κανέλα, Ζάχαρη, Λάδι, Αλεύρι, Μούστο... Μούστο? Έχει γούστο! Μια ιστορία για το κρασί, το ξίδι, τα αμπελόφυλλα, τον μούστο.
Γιώργος Νικόπουλος: Σκηνοθεσία, 3D / stopmotion animation, modeling, rigging, compositing, editing
Δημήτρης Μπασλάμ: Κείμενο, μουσική, αφήγηση, sound design
Βίκτωρ Μοσχόπουλος: Εικονογράφηση, character design
Αντώνης Δημητρόπουλος: 3D animation
Δημήτρης Πολίτης: Vector animation
Παραγωγή: Κτήμα Γεροβασιλείου & Δημήτρης Μπασλάμ
Η ταινία συμμετείχε στα φεστιβάλ animation: Animasyros 8.0, BeThere Corfu Animation Festival 2015, LAGFF 2016

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