Il-Madonna Tiegħi Aħjar minn Tiegħek!
Between 8 and 16 December Teatru Malta will be taking over Birgu’s Teatru Parrokkjali to present the operetta everyone’s been talking about: Il-Madonna Tiegħi Aħjar minn Tiegħek! We sit down with writer and household name TREVOR ZAHRA on the wake of the Malta Book Festival to get some insight into this exciting production and how this explosive plot line came to be. Tell us what the operetta ‘’IlMadonna Tieg]i A]jar minn Tieg]ek’’ is about in a few words.
The operetta is all about the rivalry between band clubs and parishes in most of our towns and villages, especially those that celebrate the feast of the Virgin Mary under various titles and attributes. Imagine what havoc would erupt if the Vatican had to declare that all the parishes in Malta have to celebrate the same feast dedicated to only one Virgin Mary!
You’re no stranger to the writing scene, your long list of publications speak for themselves, but this is the first operetta with music, being written for a banda! How did you go about creating a script for such an exciting piece?
I have written various hymns, cantatas and oratorios for choir and band in the past, so the genre wasn’t all that new to me. Nonetheless, I needed more information so I researched and looked into the subject more closely with the help of Teatru Malta who set up a team of experts to assist on the matter, in order to make the script as realistic as possible. After various sessions, the plot of the operetta started taking shape, and here we are today!
Most important of all was the input of the composer, Alex Vella Gregory. Together, we discussed the structure of the operetta, the characters, the choir section and much more. The process was slow and well thought out, but very exciting.
How long did it take to write, and what makes this script unique to others you’ve written?
When everything was plotted, it only took me some two months to write … dialogue and lyrics. But after writing a scene, I would send it to Alex, and together we would fine tune the lyrics so as to assure that the music score would be be in perfect harmony with the spirit of the narrative.
Would you say that any of these characters are based on people you’ve actually come into contact with?
I believe that pure fiction does not exist! The writer is continuously projecting his experience and his persona onto his characters. But although I don’t think that, consciously, I modelled characters on living persons, I can’t exclude the possibility that people I know haven’t sneaked into the story. There are some archetypes that the audience could easily identify with.
Why should audiences come watch ‘Il-Madonna Tieg]i A]jar minn Tieg]ek’ this December?
I think it’s going to be great fun. Peter Busuttil, the director of the operetta, together with Alex Vella Gregory, the composer, have managed to assemble a solid cast of some very good actors and singers. The band will be under the baton of Mro. Ivan Borg. The story is humorous and intriguing. The music is brilliant and enchanting. I believe it’s a very well suited production to kick start the festive season. Composed by Alex Vella Gregory and directed by Peter Busuttil, Il-Madonna Tiegħi Aħjar minn Tiegħek proudly stars songstress and Maltese favourite Mary Rose Mallia and will also see the involvement of Malta’s National Youth Band under the direction of band master John Ivan Borg. This production has been made possible with the support of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, Agenzija Żgħażagħ, and The National Association of Band Clubs. To buy tickets and for more information visit www.teatrumalta.org.mt or cal 21220255