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story.lead_photo.caption Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos performs in the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

EPIDAURUS, Greece -- Lights! Crickets. Birds. Bats. Action!

The ancient theater of Epidaurus, renowned for its acoustics, has reopened for a limited number of open-air performances, with organizers planning a live-streamed event Saturday for the first time in the Greek monument's 2,300-year history.

Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the Culture Ministry allowed the Epidaurus Theater in southern Greece and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines.

"Only 45% of the seats are occupied, the refreshments areas are closed, there is no intermission, and tickets are only issued electronically," said Maria Panagiotopoulou, spokeswoman for the cultural organization which organized the events.

"We normally have 80 performances in the summer. This year, it's just 17. ... We kept changing the plans. We planned for a September start, and then we were concerned that all events might be canceled. We ended up with something in the middle. It would have been the first summer without a performance in 65 years."

Acts from abroad were off-limits due to the pandemic, and the scheduled artists were instructed not to give encores. Stewards wearing surgical gloves and plastic visors keep spectators apart as they clamber up the steep stone amphitheater steps to find their seats.

Just 4,500 of the usual 10,000 seats are being made available at Epidaurus Theatre, a honeycomb-colored stone venue with a shallow, half-funnel shape that allows music and voices from the stage to be clearly heard all 55 rows up.

Surrounded by pine-covered mountains of the southern Peloponnese region, audiences also can clearly hear the sounds of birds and crickets along with the protests of people who were locked out of the theater for arriving too late.

Christina Koutra, a musicologist from Athens, said she was happy to make the winding three-hour trip to Epidaurus to watch the season's first event, a solo performance of Bach by acclaimed Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

"There is a feeling of harmony here. It's a sacred place," Koutra said from behind a face mask as she left the theater with her parents.

"Culture cannot stand still. We have to take part and keep it going," she said.

The National Theatre of Greece will be performing "The Persians" by ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus for Saturday's live-streamed show.

A man enters the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020, to listen a solo concert by Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A man enters the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020, to listen a solo concert by Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to to prevent the spread of the coronavirus leave the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to to prevent the spread of the coronavirus leave the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stewards wearing plastic visors stand at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stewards wearing plastic visors stand at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators listen a concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators listen a concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A Steward wearing a plastic visor stands at a gate of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A Steward wearing a plastic visor stands at a gate of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators listen a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus as the city of Athens is seen on the background on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators listen a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus as the city of Athens is seen on the background on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stewards wearing surgical gloves and plastic visors stands as spectators take their seats at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020 Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stewards wearing surgical gloves and plastic visors stands as spectators take their seats at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020 Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus arrive at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus arrive at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators, some of them wearing protective face masks sit at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece on Friday, July 17, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators, some of them wearing protective face masks sit at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece on Friday, July 17, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A steward wearing plastic visor stands in front of a Greek Orthodox priest as spectators take their seats at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020 Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A steward wearing plastic visor stands in front of a Greek Orthodox priest as spectators take their seats at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Greece, on Friday, July 17, 2020 Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Actors and singers perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece, after the site was reopened for performances on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, with the ancient Parthenon temple in the background. Seating limits have been imposed at the renovated ancient stone Roman theater, underneath the Acropolis, as part of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities allowed the venue to reopen despite recently canceling some other summer events to avoid crowding.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Actors and singers perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece, after the site was reopened for performances on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, with the ancient Parthenon temple in the background. Seating limits have been imposed at the renovated ancient stone Roman theater, underneath the Acropolis, as part of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities allowed the venue to reopen despite recently canceling some other summer events to avoid crowding.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to make prevent the spread of the coronavirus clap at Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators wearing protective face masks to make prevent the spread of the coronavirus clap at Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The ancient theaters of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators enjoy a performance at Herodes Atticus in Athens, after the site was reopened on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greece opened it's ancient theaters as the country easing coronavirus lockdown measures.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators enjoy a performance at Herodes Atticus in Athens, after the site was reopened on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greece opened it's ancient theaters as the country easing coronavirus lockdown measures.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A woman hugs her child during a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A woman hugs her child during a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Ancient marble statues are seen outside the Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus next the ancient theatre of the site, early Saturday, July 186, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Ancient marble statues are seen outside the Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus next the ancient theatre of the site, early Saturday, July 186, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators sit at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators sit at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A steward wearing a plastic visor stands at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert ,on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Seating limits have been imposed at the renovated ancient stone Roman theater, underneath the Acropolis, as part of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A steward wearing a plastic visor stands at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, during a concert ,on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Seating limits have been imposed at the renovated ancient stone Roman theater, underneath the Acropolis, as part of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators leave the ancient theater of Epidaurus, after a concert, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators leave the ancient theater of Epidaurus, after a concert, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators sit at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, during a concert, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Spectators sit at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, during a concert, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Greek Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece and Herodes Atticus in Athens to host performances under strict safety guidelines due the COVID-19 pandemic.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A man with a flashlight goes down the stairs of the ancient theater of Epidaurus after the end of a performance, early Saturday July 18, 2020. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece to host performances under strict safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A man with a flashlight goes down the stairs of the ancient theater of Epidaurus after the end of a performance, early Saturday July 18, 2020. Live concerts and events have been mostly canceled in Greece this summer due to pandemic concerns. But the Culture Ministry allowed the ancient theaters of Epidaurus in southern Greece to host performances under strict safety guidelines. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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Livestreamed performance from Epidaurus Theater, details: https://www.livefromepidaurus.gr/

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