|The next great Norma after Maria Callas for Gozo’s opera production|
Teatru Astra in Gozo has managed to engage Greek soprano Dimitra Theodossiou for the title role in this year’s highly demanding opera production Norma, held on two evenings as part of the 10th edition of Festival Mediterranea. Theodossiou is regarded as the next great Norma after the legendary Maria Callas.
Theodossiou and other members of the main cast for the upcoming opera production of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma was finalised in recent days. Norma will be held on Thursday 27th October, which is the festival opening night, and on Saturday 29th October.
Dimitra Theodossiou is a world-class soprano who will be singing for the first time in Malta. Besides the difficult title role in Bellini's opera, her wide operatic repertoire includes several other title roles including those in Verdi's Aida and Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Anna Bolena and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as other demanding roles, especially in Verdi's operas, such as that of Violetta in La Traviata, Odabella in Attila, Gisela in I Lombardi, Elisabetta in Don Carlo and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and the Puccini staple fare such as Mimì in La Bohème and others. She performs regularly at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, in several other opera houses in Italy especially in Rome, Verona and Naples, as well as in her home city Athens, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Tokyo, St Petersburg, Munich, Madrid, Monte Carlo, Sao Paolo, Japan and Seoul amongst others.
Italian tenor Antonino Interisano will be returning to the Gozo theatre for the part of Pollione while Romanian mezzo-soprano Oana Andra will be singing the role of Adalgisa. Young Italian bass Dario Russo has been entrusted with the singing role of Oroveso.
Antonino Interisano is no newcomer to opera patrons in Gozo. He is very well remembered for his applauded performance as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto (Teatru Astra, 2009), Calaf in Puccini's Turandot (Teatru Astra, 2008) and his excellent rendition of Canio in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci and Turiddu in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana (Teatru Astra, 2006).
Oana Andra is a well known soloist with National Opera Bucharest and in recent years she has been invited to perform in several European and Asian theatres of repute including the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Italy, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, the Alte Oper, Jahrhundert-halle and the Städtische Bühnen in Frankfurt am Main in Germany, the Théâtre Châtelet in Paris, France, the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège, Belgium, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, the Birmingham Symphony Hall in the UK, at Deutsche Welle in Köln, Germany, and in Bunkamura Orchard Hall and Tsuda Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
Although young, Dario Russo's operatic qualities have already taken him to several theatres in Italy and abroad, most notably at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Teatro Reggio in Turin, the Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini in Catania, the Teatro Reggio in Parma, as well as the Gran Teatre Liceu in Barcelona, at the Obidos Opera Festival in Portugal, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and in Japan as part of the Teatro Bellini tour in the country.
For Norma the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be under the baton of Prof. Mro. Joseph Vella. The opera production will as always include the participation of the resident Teatru Astra Opera Chorus, coached by Maria Frendo.
Teatru Astra has this year entrusted the artistic production in the hands of Italian director Enrico Stinchelli, considered an authority in Italy in the world of opera, known especially for his daily RAI Radio 3 programme "La Barcaccia" and his direction of opera productions in several Italian opera houses including in Rome, Bologna and in Taormina as well as overseas including in Bulgaria and in Japan with productions of Tosca, Barbiere di Siviglia, Fedora, Aida, Carmen, Norma, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Falstaff and Gianni Schicchi. Enrico Stinchelli has already travelled to the theatre in Gozo to speak with the relevant volunteers and create this year's project which, as always, is a labour of love by hundreds of volunteers towards fostering an increased appreciation of opera in the country.
Festival Mediterranea will this year be celebrating its 10th edition. Recently the programme of events has been published on its website with additional details to be published in the coming weeks. The festival runs for over three weeks, until 19th November.
The opera Norma and Festival Mediterranea are being organised by Teatru Astra in Gozo with the support of Bank of Valletta, the Malta Tourism Authority, the Vodafone Malta Foundation, the Ministry for Gozo, the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.