Aida: The high­light of Gozo’s au­tumn fes­ti­val

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

Teatru As­tra with the sup­port of Bank of Val­letta, is proud to an­nounce the 15th edi­tion of Fes­ti­val Mediter­ranea, a se­ries of cul­tural events to be held in Gozo be­tween 17 and 19 Novem­ber.

This year’s fes­ti­val was of­fi­cially launched dur­ing a press con­fer­ence ad­dressed by Mario Mal­lia, Bank of Val­letta’s chief Ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Michael For­mosa, chair­man of Fes­ti­val Mediter­ranea or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, Prof. Mro Joseph Vella, the artis­tic direc­tor of the fes­ti­val and Al­bert Mar­shall, the Malta Arts Coun­cil chair­man.

Con­grat­u­lat­ing the or­gan­is­ers for the up­com­ing edi­tion of Fes­ti­val Mediter­ranea, Mr Mal­lia said: "A lot of ded­i­ca­tion and hard work goes into this month-long se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties that blends to­gether so many art forms, in­clud­ing opera, mu­sic, dance, his­tory and ar­chae­ol­ogy. Bank of Val­letta is proud to have been sup­port­ing this event year on year, and wit­ness­ing it grow from its first edi­tion. To­day, Fes­ti­val Mediter­ranea has es­tab­lished it­self as a mile­stone in the cul­tural cal­en­dar. We strongly be­lieve in the value that th­ese ini­tia­tives bring, not only to Gozo but also to our na­tional cul­tural her­itage, kin­dling a love of the artis­tic world among our peo­ple, while putting the Mal­tese is­lands on the in­ter­na­tional cul­tural scene."

Mr For­mosa stated that Teatru As­tra is proud to an­nounce the 15th edi­tion of Fes­ti­val Mediter­ranea and the opera Aida, the third time the theatre is pro­duc­ing this opera, af­ter in­tro­duc­ing Verdi's ever-pop­u­lar mas­ter­piece to the lo­cal pub­lic way back al­most three decades ago.

He stated that the forth­com­ing opera, a com­pletely new pro­duc­tion of Verdi's flag­ship Aida, prom­ises to be a daz­zling pro­duc­tion that will con­tinue to place Teatru As­tra on the same foot­print of ma­jor Euro­pean re­gional the­atres, mark­ing a jour­ney the theatre went through since putting up the first Aida in 1988.

Mr For­mosa com­mented on the en­thu­si­asm and com­mit­ment of vol­un­teers, which un­der­pin ev­ery opera pro­duc­tion at Teatru As­tra, a phe­nom­e­non that con­tin­ues to be as strong as it was way back when the first Aida was pro­duced at the same theatre. He stressed the op­por­tu­nity the theatre is giv­ing to lo­cal tal­ent and the con­tri­bu­tion the one-month­long fes­ti­val gives to the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity.

Prof. Vella ex­plained that Aida is the essence of Ital­ian opera par ex­cel­lence – soothing melodies, great cho­ruses, scin­til­lat­ing solo voices and bal­let scenes, all wrapped up in an in­trigu­ing story line set in the won­der­ful, ex­otic sce­nario of an­cient Egypt. Prof. Vella stated that this is the third pro­duc­tion by Teatru As­tra of Aida, an opera that seems to never lose its al­lure among opera lovers.

He also ex­plained how Teatru As­tra has al­ways in­vested heav­ily in world-class singers and a choir (un­der the di­rec­tion of Maria Frendo) whose rep­u­ta­tion has es­tab­lished it­self as one of the fore­most opera choirs on the is­lands. He con­cluded that this year’s pro­duc­tion prom­ises to be an­other mem­o­rable event in the now well-es­tab­lished oper­atic tra­di­tion which has made Teatru As­tra's pro­duc­tions so sought af­ter and so gen­er­ously pa­tro­n­ised.

Mr Mar­shall au­gured Teatru As­tra suc­cess for the opera Aida and re­it­er­ated that through the Gozo Cul­tural Sup­port Pro­gramme man­aged by the Malta Arts Coun­cil and the Min­istry for Gozo, the opera in Gozo is in­creas­ingly be­ing sup­ported to con­tinue de­vel­op­ing. Mr Mar­shall stated that this is be­ing done be­cause the Malta Arts Coun­cil be­lieves that cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions in Gozo, like the Soc­jeta Fi­lar­monika La Stella, are in­creas­ingly pro­duc­ing events of ex­cel­lent artis­tic qual­ity which con­tinue to at­tract lo­cal and for­eign au­di­ences.

The opera Aida will fea­ture in a dou­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tion on 27 and 29 Oc­to­ber at 7.30pm. Teatru As­tra is once again pre­sent­ing a star-stud­ded line-up to what prom­ises to be an out­stand­ing per­for­mance. Along­side Verdi heavy­weight Carlo Colom­bara, the cast fea­tures Silvia dalla Benetta in the ti­tle role. Sa­nia An­sast­sia, a new­comer to the theatre, will be in­ter­pret­ing the role of Am­neris. The role of Radames will be in­ter­preted by An­tonino In­ter­isano. Af­ter the suc­cess in the 2015 La Bo­heme, De­vid Cecconi will be mak­ing a wel­come re­turn in the role of Amonasro. Petri Lin­droos is billed for the role of the King of Egypt. En­rico St­inchelli of La Bar­cac­cia fame will once again be re­spon­si­ble for the artis­tic pro­duc­tion. As in past years, scenery will be de­signed and built by Joseph Cauchi and his team, while Emanuel Grima and Ge­orge Far­ru­gia will be in charge of cos­tumes.

Teatru As­tra will be re­new­ing its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Teatru Ma­noel in the or­gan­i­sa­tion of an opera work­shop on Mon­day, 17 Oc­to­ber at 7.30pm. The event is free of charge.

Opera pa­trons who will be vis­it­ing Gozo dur­ing the opera week­end will have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend a num­ber of other events, namely, a recital on Fri­day, 28 Oc­to­ber at the Kempin­ski San Lawrenz Re­sort and Spa, fea­tur­ing three La Stella Band soloists: Mario Galea (clar­inet), Ge­orge Camil­leri (eu­pho­nio) and Robert But­tigieg (trum­pet) and a lec­ture on the opera Aida de­liv­ered by Dr Abra­ham Borg. This event, ti­tled Hymn to doomed love is sched­uled on Sat­ur­day, 29 Oc­to­ber at 10am at Banca Guiratale in Victoria. Both events are free of charge.

Teatru As­tra will be host­ing a trio and a quar­tet from Swe­den in a lunchtime con­cert at Aula Mgr Far­ru­gia in St Ge­orge’s Basil­ica on Thurs­day, 3 Novem­ber.

The events also in­clude a lec­ture by Dr Paul Ge­orge Pisani, The Hospi­tallers as His­to­ri­ans billed for Fri­day, 5 Novem­ber at St Ce­cilia Chapel, a pi­ano recital by the young and tal­ented pi­anist Fran­cis James Camil­leri on Sat­ur­day, 5 Novem­ber at Aula Mgr Far­ru­gia and an on­site lec­ture ti­tled, To­wards an In­no­va­tive and Mod­ern Sen­si­bil­ity in Art in Gozo de­liv­ered by Dr Mark Sag­ona on Sat­ur­day, 12 Novem­ber.

Dur­ing the fes­ti­val il-Ha­gar Mu­seum will be host­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion which will place a spot­light on the new ex­hibits which were re­cently ac­quired by the same mu­seum.

La Stella Phil­har­monic Band will close this year’s edi­tion with a clas­si­cal con­cert fea­tur­ing di­verse pieces, from the tra­di­tional to the con­tem­po­rary. This an­nual grand con­cert is billed for Sat­ur­day, 19 Novem­ber. The band will be di­rected by Prof. Joseph Vella.

Reser­va­tions and book­ings can be made through the fes­ti­val helpdesk on 2155 0985, email book­ings@mediter­ranea.com.mt. On­line book­ing and other in­for­ma­tion on the opera and fes­ti­val is avail­able on www.teatru­as­tra.com.mt.

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