Spyros Samaras began his musical studies on his native island, continuing them at the Athens Conservatoire and completing them in 1882 at the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Léo Delibes. He moved to Milan and, under the Italianised form of his name, Spiro Samara, achieved his first success with the opera Flora Mirabilis, staged at the Teatro Carcano of Milan in 1886.

Of his subsequent operas, La Martire and Rhea were those which obtained the most success in Italy and abroad. The former was performed for the first time at the Teatro Mercadante of Naples on 23rd May 1894, with Gemma Bellincioni and Roberto Stagno. Rhea was premièred on 28th March 1910 at the Teatro alla Scala of Milan, with Rina Giachetti in the leading role.

Samara’s theatrical production, which is close to “verista” melodrama in its choice of subjects, is characterised in its musical language by the presence of Greek and Byzantine folkloristic elements, and by a strong French influence.

Samara is known internationally for having composed in 1896, to a text by the poet Kostis Palamàs, the hymn for the first modern Olympic Games, still performed as the official hymn of the Olympics.

From 1911 until his death Samara returned to Athens, where he wrote some operettas, directed the Teatro Comunale and received from his country, where his music is still often performed, the National Medal for Letters and Arts.

  • The first edition of the score of La Martire (1894)
  • Sketch for the first performance of Rhea (1910, La Scala, Milan)
  • Sketch for the production of Rhea at the Festival of Corfu (1984)
  • La Martire at the Festival of Corfu (1994)
  • Costume designs by Michael Polatof for Rhea at the Athens Opera House (1999)