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It was at this time, too, that Maria began collaborating with the composer Manos Hadzithakis, who was then working on a piece called The Age of Melissanthi, a composition based on his personal experience, and the hardships of his youth. The wounds left by the German Occupation were re-opened by the regime of the military dictators. Hadzithakis reserved a central role in this work for Maria, and subtitled his composition A Musical Story with Maria Farantouri. His work would not be finished until years later, but the creative course of Maria’s and Manos’s relationship had already begun.

It was through Hadzithakis’s intervention that Maria was able to come to Greece in 1972 to bid a last farewell to her father who died in that year. The military authorities deemed that a forty-eight hour visa was sufficient for her to mourn her father. During these two days, however, Maria found time to visit the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, where she felt the pulse of her ancestors still beating freely – a breath of Greek freedom that she carried with her as she returned to her self-exile.

Two years earlier, after the intervention of international artists and writers, Theodorakis, whose health was precarious following his various imprisonments, exiles and house arrests, was released. With the assistance of the French politician Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, he was taken to Paris, from where he began his ceaseless tours of Europe, North and South America, and the Middle East. Always at his side, Maria played a leading part in his concerts, which soon became a beacon of freedom for the exiled Greeks, and were supported by famous international artists, intellectuals, and other distinguished world figures. The Europeans, in particular, stood by the exiled Greeks, embracing their struggle for freedom. The concerts, held in such venues as the Olympia, Salle Pleyel, Bobino, the Lincoln Center, the Albert Hall and the Salle Tchaikovsky in Moscow, to name a few, have become legendary. Not only did these concerts give courage to the Greeks, but they made foreign audiences familiar with Greek music, and with the creative genius of Theodorakis. Even today, concert halls abroad, especially in Europe, are packed whenever Maria Farantouri sings or when Mikis Theodorakis presents his classical compositions.

The concerts Maria gave abroad were recorded, and reached Greece secretly, usually inside different cover-sleeves, giving courage to those who were struggling against the junta. In the same way, without anyone noticing, the early work of the young composer Heleni Karaindrou, The Great Insomnia, a setting of poems by Yorgos Yeorgoussopoulos, was smuggled out of Greece. Maria’s voice was added to the recording in a London studio, and thus she put her stamp on the unique cycle of songs by Karaindrou, who was to become famous for her film soundtracks. On tour in the USA, Farantouri met the singer Fleri Dandonaki in New York, and their friendship continued until the Dandonaki’s agonizing death in 1998.


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