Il-Madonna Tiegħi Aħ­jar minn Tiegħek!

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

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

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