Seven decisive meetings
As a little girl, Nana often accompanied her father to the cinema where he worked as a projectionist. Fascinated by the stage, after the movie, she liked standing there contemplating the empty hall and soaking up the energy that emanated from it. By becoming a singer, this meeting place with the public, proved to be a form of therapy to overcome her shyness. Among the 4,000 concerts Nana has given during her career, several marked in their own way her itinerary and the beginning of a multitude of meetings with a loyal audience. Let's start with the seven main ones.
1- SALLE WILFRID-PELLETIER - MONTREAL, JANUARY 27, 1967
At the end of 1966, Nana and her ensemble, The Athenians, made a series of photos in preparation for her first solo tour, which will take place at the beginning of the following year in Quebec. The most memorable concert remains the one of January 27, 1967 in Montreal. Two years earlier, Nana accompanied Harry Belafonte in his show at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts, a 3,000-seat venue. This time, she comes back to present her first full singing recital in two parts.
That evening, a snowstorm paralyzes the metropolis. In order to allow spectators to get to the theatre, the performance begins 90 minutes late. Throughout the concert, the exotic music of The Athenians and the sweet voice of Nana warm and comfort an audience who braved the weather. Her interpretations, especially those songs of her country, don’t fail to captivate the spectators. Beyond her talent, the journalists praise her simplicity and her modesty. Remember that Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier is the place in the world where Nana gave more concerts after Olympia of Paris: 137.
2- OLYMPIA OF PARIS, OCTOBER 26, 1967
The Olympia of Paris, a hall where French and International artists have performed, has 2,000 seats. It is considered the most famous music hall in the world. Several launched their career in France. In 1962, Nana performed in the first part of Georges Brassens concert and got to know a French Song-loving audience. In 1964, at Bobino. Three years later, she sings as top of the bill artist at the Olympia for three weeks replacing Gilbert Bécaud.
October 26, 1967 is one of the most agonizing days of her life. For hours, in her dressing room, Nana wonders if she will succeed, convince. Like every premiere, Bruno Coquatrix, the theatre director, gets his star and accompanies her to the stage to reassure her. As soon as she walks towards her microphone, the warm applause makes her find the serenity, the happiness to be on stage. Despite her apprehensions, that evening, Nana is, as we say, consecrated by Paris. Although that audience is reputed to be difficult, the spectators react with enthusiasm. They are charmed by her distinction, her voice and her repertoire. The musical and vocal complicity of her musicians enhance her singing recital. Fully satisfied by her performance, Mr. Coquatrix tells her that she’s established for the next 25 years.
Following this triumph, Nana receives most eulogistic reviews from the media. Happy with this success, she says she is flattered to learn that she is the first woman who sings in this theatre pregnant and wearing glasses. Since that performance at the Olympia, the City of Light is considered like a starting point for her international conquest. And for good reason. Nana has performed on this stage 192 times and recorded six live albums.
3- ROYAL ALBERT HALL - LONDON, OCTOBER 29, 1968
The following year, a prestigious project is offered to her: the hosting of six variety shows at the BBC in which Nana must sing and receive renowned guests. At the time of the first broadcast, there are queues at record stores even though there are no records available. While waiting for her to record a new album, she is asked to give a concert at the Royal Albert Hall on October 29, 1968. It should be remembered that this hall was built in honour of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. Nana accepts, but wonders who will be coming, as just a few weeks ago she was completely absent from the English cultural landscape. On her first visit to the theatre, she is amazed by the vastness of the hall and its arena look. At the same time, the producer announces to her that her concert is sold out.
Five years after her noticed performance at the Eurovision Song Context, Nana faces the British public. This time, she has to sing in front of 5,000 spectators, including London's high society. In order to share this privileged moment with the greatest number of people, the concert is broadcast live on the radio station Europe 1. Nana won’t forget the emotion of that evening. For her latest a cappella encore, the hall is plunged into darkness with a single spotlight on her and an absolute silence. With her final note, the audience stands up and respectfully applauds for about twenty minutes. After this ovation, her producer tells her: «Tonight, you have inhabited that hall forever». Of the 17 concerts that Nana gave there, those of 1974 and 2007 were filmed.
4- CARNEGIE HALL - NEW YORK CITY, MARCH 18, 1969
Nana's first stay in New York City dates back to 1962. At Quincy Jones’s request, she came to record her first album "The Girl from Greece sings". During her three years of touring with Harry Belafonte, the Big Apple became the meeting place for planning, rehearsals and recordings.
Apart from her very first solo recital at the Philharmonic Hall in 1967, the one given at Carnegie Hall on March 18, 1969 marks her real debut with New York City audience. That evening, she presents a trilingual program and also sings in Spanish and Hebrew. The New York Times, Billboard and Cash Box magazines write her favourable reviews. They praise her performance, share the audience's enthusiasm and highlight the fact that her concert is sold out.
Nana likes to return to the most cosmopolitan city in the world. During her numerous visits, she performed at Broadway Theatre, Avery Fisher Hall and Radio City Music Hall. But her favourite venue remains the Isaac Stern Auditorium, which is housed in Carnegie Hall. This 2,800-seat concert hall is the most famous in the United States. Nana has performed there 13 times.
5- BERLINER PHILHARMONIE, MARCH 10, 1974
Germany is one of the countries that mattered most to Nana. Berlin welcomed her during her first stay in 1961. She came to present a documentary film about Greece in which she sang. Her first German-language records then sold in the millions. Due to her tours with Belafonte in North America, her breakthrough in France and England, her visits became less frequent.
On March 10, 1974, during her second solo tour in Germany, Nana performs in the main hall of the Berliner Philharmonie before 2,440 spectators. Designed in the shape of a pentagon with the stands surrounding the podium below, it serves as a model for other concert halls throughout the world. That afternoon, Nana presents an international program called "Lieder der Welt" (Songs of the world) including two titles in German. This concert with 45 minutes of encores remains one of her best stage memories.
Berliners have waited a long time to see her on stage. Nana will not fail to return regularly to present her new albums in their language. Among the 35 concerts given in the German capital, 10 took place in this venue.
6- SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, JULY 4, 1976
When Nana learned that her BBC television series were bought in several Commonwealth countries, she realized the extent of her popularity in the world. Also, it is not surprising that in the 1970s Australia was the country where she sold more records per capita. Moreover, on her first visit in 1974, 19 of her albums were certified gold.
On July 4, 1976, she realizes a dream by singing at the Sydney Opera House. In addition to having welcomed the most beautiful voices in the world, the building is classified as World Heritage by UNESCO for its impressive architecture. Nana is doubly blessed as she gives two performances in front of 2,600 enthusiastic spectators. At a certain point, the applause and screams are so loud that she and her musicians think they are going to be deaf and the ceiling is going to collapse. During her six visits to Australia, Nana gave seven concerts at the Sydney Opera House.
7- ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS - ATHENS, JULY 23, 1984
As the last essential place to mention, remains Athens, the capital of her country. Following her radio debut in 1956, Nana made herself known by singing in clubs and through the Song Festivals she won. Thanks to her growing notoriety, she was recognised abroad. And in 1962, she made her last public appearances there before moving to Paris. This led her to an international career singing in several languages and performing in the world's major theatres. Despite her exceptional journey, Nana has retained her Greek roots and has long wished to come back to perform in her country. But the seven years of dictatorship imposed by the Colonels delayed things. Furthermore, since she wanted it to be a successful return, she waited for the right moment.
Finally, at the end of 1983, her participation in the next Athens festival is confirmed. A symbolic date in a mythical place is chosen: on July 23, 1984, ten years to the day after the restoration of democracy, at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, at the foot of the Acropolis. A second concert is added the next evening to meet demand.
The first evening, before entering the stage, Nana fears that her compatriots have forgotten her. But the fact that the audience accompanies her by clapping hands and singing reassures her. Note that among the 5,000 spectators are Konstantinos Karamanlis, President of Greece and Melina Mercouri, Minister of Culture. Nana owes them this privilege. For several reasons, this reunion is the most beautiful and the most moving. During the two shows, several moments of her life come to her mind and certain songs take on a particular meaning. In all, Nana sang 14 times at the Odeon. The 1984 and 2008 concerts were released on DVD.
As soon as Nana gained enough stage experience, she decided to organize her career around touring. In her mind, there was no doubt; it’s in front of spectators that real contact is created. That’s why I’ve targeted seven halls impregnated with wonderful stage memories. In each of them, the first meeting was decisive to conquer her audience. This list is certainly not definitive. We just have to reread the many articles about her and make a research to find others.