|‘La Scala’ cast for autumn festival in Gozo|
The three main singers in this year’s Teatru Astra opera production, Madama Butterfly, make an excellent cast and one which opera patrons in Malta have never seen locally together before. Soprano Daniela Dessì, tenor Fabio Armiliato and baritone Carlo Guelfi have together graced many important opera stages worldwide, not least the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and will sing together again at the annual appointment at Teatru Astra in Gozo at the end of October.
This production of Madama Butterfly, held on the 25 and 27 October, presents a unique opportunity that local opera goers should not miss. It will be the first time that this formidable trio of world class singers will be singing during an opera in the Maltese Islands. Opera patrons are used to hearing Dessì, Armiliato and Guelfi tackle the most important roles in opera at theatres such as the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, the Arena di Verona, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, or even in New York or elsewhere in the United States, or listen to them on their multiple CD or DVD recordings. This time, singers of such high-calibre, who have often sung under the music direction of conductors such as Muti, Abbado and Levine, are being brought to Gozo, raising once again the benchmark of local opera-making.
Madama Butterfly opens this year’s 11th edition of Festival Mediterranea, held by Teatru Astra, with a programme of events intended to expose aspects of Maltese culture and way of life in a period when tourism to Gozo is not at its best. The festival runs until the 17th November.
Besides the principal three singers, Madama Butterfly includes the participation of young Maltese talent, including young tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens whose opera debut was at Teatru Astra itself in last year’s production of Norma. Prof. Mro. Joseph Vella will be conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra while the Teatru Astra Opera Chorus participates. Italian stage director Enrico Stinchelli has been once again entrusted with this production. Once again, Teatru Astra is dedicating a number of seats for the opera opening night to be sold at a heavily-reduced rate for students.
Other events within Festival Mediterranea include an original tango production which is currently on European tour, the local representation of which will be held exclusively during this festival; a vocal recital featuring Romanian mezzo-soprano Oana Andra who will be returning to Gozo after her excellent rendition as Adalgisa in last year’s opera Norma; a piano recital by the world’s youngest left-hand-only pianist, Nicholas McCarthy (UK); a concert by La Stella Brass Ensemble and Soloists; and the Annual Grand Concert of the La Stella Philharmonic Band (AD 1863).
Non-music events include a site visit to St George’s Basilica in Victoria, by Dr Paul G Pisani, exposing works of fine artists such as Mattia Preti, Francesco Zahra and Gian Battista Conti; a visit to a family-run boutique winery and its vineyards; an on-site lecture in various churches on Giuseppe Calì, by artist and art historian Mark Sagona; and a lecture by leading historian Victor Mallia-Milanes, Professor at the Department of History at the University of Malta, entitled Society and the Economy on the Hospitaller Island of Malta.
Festival Mediterranea is organised by volunteers at Teatru Astra in Gozo, with the sterling support of partners such as Bank of Valletta, the Malta Tourism Authority, Malta International Airport, Ministry for Gozo, Ministry for Finance, the Economy and Investment, Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, and Victoria Local Council.
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