The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive, cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. It lasted intact until it was destroyed and turned into a ruin by the Heruli in 267 AD.
The audience stands and the orchestra (stage) were restored using pentelic marble in the 1950s. Since then it has been the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year, featuring a variety of acclaimed Greek as well as International performances.
In 1957 Maria Callas performed at the Odeon as part of the Athens Festival and in the same year Edith Hamilton was pronounced an honorary citizen of Athens at ninety years of age. In May 1962 Frank Sinatra gave two Benefit concerts for the city of Athens. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus was the venue for the Miss Universe 1973 pageant. Another memorable performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was given by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri in 1984; after 20 years of absence she returned to her country.
Luciano Pavarotti performed at the Odeon twice, in 1991 and in 2004. Vangelis' Mythodea premiered at Odeon of Herodes Atticus in July 1993 and the venue hosted Yanni's Live at the Acropolis performance in September 1993. Sting performed at the venue during his Mercury Falling Tour on May 17, 1996. Mario Frangoulis has performed at the historic theatre with Yannis Markopoulos' Orpheus in 1996 and also played the role of Erotokritos in his work based on Vitsentzos Kornaros' Erotokritos.
He also performed 'Axion Esti' poem by Odysseus Elytis music by Mikis Theodorakis and conducted by the composer himself in May 1998 to benefit Elpida foundation for children suffering from cancer. Elton John performed two concerts at the venue during his Medusa Tour in 2000. In June 2008 Sylvie Guillem performed Boléro in company with the Tokyo Ballet as part of the Athens Festival. In September 2010, tenor Andrea Bocelli held a concert at the Odeon to raise funds for Cancer research. In the Year 2012 Mario Frangoulis performed the leading role in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at the Herodes Atticus theater.