|Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor raises the curtain on the 50th anniversary celebrations of Teatru Astra|
This October, Teatru Astra will be organizing the 16th edition of Festival Mediterranea. The highlight will be the tragic opera in three acts Lucia di Lammermoor that returns to the Astra after an absence of 29 years. This was announced during a press conference held at BOV Centre in Santa Venera and addressed by Mario Mallia, BOV Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Formosa, Chairman of Festival Mediterranea organising committee, Prof. Mro Joseph Vella, the Artistic Director of the Festival and Hon. Dr Justyne Caruana, Minister for Gozo.
Referring to the world of performing arts in Gozo, Mario Mallia said, 'We have been supporting Socjeta Filarmonika La Stella from the very first edition of Festival Mediterranea. Over the years, we continue to witness how this Festival has grown, thanks to the effort of the organisers and their army of volunteers. The same goes for the Opera. Year after year, we witness productions of high calibre, in all aspects ÃÃÂ¢ scenery, props, wardrobe and of course the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Mro Joseph Vella and the protagonists themselves.' He went on to congratulate the organisers for the manner in which they manage to bring seven millennia of history and mythology to life during the Festival, through the spread of artistic and cultural events that they organise around the four corners of the island of Gozo.
Dr Justyne Caruana complimented the organisers for the operas of high calibre that they are producing, through which they are succeeding in attracting both a local as well as an international audience. She said that, 'At the Ministry for Gozo, we are looking at this scenario from three perspectives. We are creating a cultural platform for the participation of both local and international artists in Gozo. Then there is the important aspect of voluntary work that make these events possible. Their invaluable contribution towards the socio-cultural development of Gozo needs to be recognized. Finally there is the economic aspect which is being spurned by specialised tourism that such events are attracting. Thus the Government is looking at having a dynamic and versatile touristic sector that attracts a broad audience. In this regard, the Opera in Gozo is definitely helping in attracting a different audience.'
Michael Formosa, the Festival Chairman, stated that this year the festival and opera will coincide with the launch of the celebrations related to the inauguration of Teatru Astra fifty years ago. Teatru Astra opened up its doors to the general public in January 1968. He noted that a series of major events and productions are being planned by Teatru Astra to register recognition of this important milestone in local contemporary history. He remarked that in the past 50 years, Teatru Astra, which continues to be run by volunteers, has made a significant contribution to the development of the arts in Malta and Gozo, offered a platform for a number artists - including world-fame tenor Joseph Calleja and enriched in no uncertain way the cultural calendar on the island. The major events being planned for 2018 include an exhibition which will narrate the story of the last 50 years of the theatre, the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in March which will feature international acclaimed artistes, the 5th special edition of RockAstra, Giacomo Puccini's opera Manon Lescaut in October and the Grand Concert by the La Stella Band in November.
Prof. Joseph Vella explained that Lucia di Lammermoor is an opera that celebrates the traditional 'bel canto' style of the 19th Century Italian repertoire. Melody and the 'singing voice' are the backbone of the music. All this and the beauty of its choral passages, he concluded, are the best guarantee for all opera to indulge in an evening of singable tunes, vocal pyrotechnics and, why not, a touch of romantic drama!
The opera Lucia di Lammermoor will feature in a double representation on the 26th and 28th October at 19.30hrs. Teatru Astra is once again presenting a star-studded line-up to what promises to be an outstanding performance. The mise-en-scene will be created by Enrico Stinchelli specifically for the Astra boards. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and Teatru Astra Opera Chorus coached by Maria Frendo will be under the direction by Prof. Joseph Vella, resident conductor at the Teatru Astra. Besides a line-up of internationally acclaimed singers, namely Giulio Pelligra, Serenad Uyar, Boris Pinkhasovich and Dario Russo, the Astra is proud to be offering a deserved platform to local stars Cliff Zammit Stevens and Marvic Monreal.
Teatru Astra will be renewing its collaboration with the Teatru Manoel in the organisation of an opera workshop on 12 October at 19.30 hours. 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 free of charge events, namely, a Clarinet, Euphonium and Trumpet recital at the Kempinski San Lawrenz Hotel on Friday 27 October and a talk on the opera being produced, delivered by Dr Abraham Borg at Vini e Capricci on Saturday 28 October at 10.00hrs.
Other events in this year's edition of the festival include a historical lecture delivered by Dr George Paul Pisani at St Cecilia Chapel, titled Attilio Mori's Description of Gozo at the turn of the 20th Century on Friday 4 November. Art historian Dr Mark Sagona will also feature in this year's list of events in another lecture at the Ministry for Gozo Hall on Friday 17 November, titled The Renaissance Revival: its manifestation in Malta.
On Saturday 25 November, Teatru Astra will host a concert by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Wayne Marshall, which will feature three great works from Russian composers.
The opera is also supported by the Gozo Cultural Support Fund managed by the Malta Arts Council and the Ministry for Gozo.