|Gozo's Festival Mediterranea and Il Trovatore 2019 officially launched|
Teatru Astra and Bank of Valletta officially launched the 18th edition of Festival Mediterranea, Gozo's main autumn festival, which annually features a double operatic production and an array of other events including concerts, vocal recitals, art exhibitions, lectures and a symphonic band concert by Victoria's La Stella Band.
The highlight of this year's festival is undoubtedly the spectacular presentation of Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore, scheduled for the 24th and 26th October 2019.
The distinguished cast of this year's production includes Valeriy Georgiev, one of the current top Verdian tenors who will star in the title role of the troubadour Manrico. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, including Germany, Italy and Belgium. Soprano Joanna Parisi, who has garnered exciting international reviews on her interpretations of her Verdi roles, will feature as his beloved Leonora.
A new name at Teatru Astra is Plamen Dimitrov, singing the scheming Count di Luna, who will be joined by Sania Anastasia, an exceptionally talented mezzo-soprano, also of international calibre who is lauded for her iconic interpretations of Amneris in Aida (2016) at Teatru Astra, will be playing the mysterious Azucena. Other roles are assigned to Carlo Colombara who will be making a most welcome return as Ferrando. Local artistes include upcoming talented soprano Marvic Baldacchino, who will be making her debut at Teatru Astra as Ines, while Noel Galea, a household name in local operatic productions, is being entrusted with the part of Vecchio Zingaro.
Teatru Astra's newly appointed resident opera-conductor John Galea will conduct the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Teatru Astra Opera Chorus in what promises to be a spectacular production, synonymous with the distinguished refinement of past operatic productions. Internationally famed director Enrico Stinchelli, who enjoys international fame and has wooed opera patrons at the Astra since 2001, is being entrusted once again with the artistic direction of the opera.
Speaking during the launch, Charles Azzopardi, Executive PR and Marketing at Bank of Valletta said, 'We are very proud of our long-term partnership with Festival Mediterranea, a series of cultural and exciting events of the highest quality. We believe this is a tangible investment in the local Arts and Culture sphere providing excellent opportunities for talented Maltese and Gozitan artistes alongside established international stars.'
Teatru Astra President Michael Formosa highlighted the significance of the artistic programme being presented by Teatru Astra. He stated that the production of the annual opera places SoċjetÃÃÂ Filarmonika La Stella as a key cultural agent on the Maltese Islands. Whilst gratefully acknowledging the army of volunteers who continue to make such cultural projects possible, he thanked Bank of Valletta and the Malta Arts Council for the renewed support, which he said is an investment in Gozo and its community. In a concluding remark he noted that "Teatru Astra, through the activities it animates, is proud to be profiling on a higher notch, Victoria's and Gozo's artistic offering".
Conductor John Galea, who also addressed the press conference stated that Verdi's music represents the embodiment of dramatic energy and passion, infusing dramatic situations with evoking expressiveness in which all emotion is seen in terms of action and conflict. "Like last year's La Traviata, Il Trovatore has its own dose of sustained pathos, where the vocal texture conveys the basic emotions of love, hate, jealousy, grief and joy to the audience. Melodic invention, whether soulful or impulsive, thus becomes the most immediate expression of human feeling."
Opera patrons will have the opportunity to experience a culturally charged weekend between 24 and 26 October. The internationally-acclaimed Sicilian choir, Coro Lirico Sicliano, which has engaged in international operatic commitments, will be delighting the audience with the best of its repertoire, including sacred music, at St George's Basilica on Friday 24 October at 12.30hrs. A clarinet and pianoforte recital, featuring musicians Mario Galea and Francis Camilleri is scheduled in the evening of the same day at the Kempinski San Lawrenz Hotel. The programme includes major works for the clarinet namely Weber's Clarinet Concerto no. 2 and Brahms Clarinet Sonata no. 2, among others.
Dr Abraham Borg, an established name in operatic academia, will share his insights on the context of Il Trovatore during a lecture on Saturday 26 October at Victoria town hall at 10.00hrs. Patrons at Teatru Astra for Il Trovatore will be welcome to attend a 'Brinidisi' - a pre-opera experience in the spacious Astra foyer- and will also have the opportunity to visit an exhibition which narrates the history of Il Trovatore and opera in the local context.
Other events include a pianoforte recital by pianist Francis James Camilleri on Friday 18 October at Aula Mgr Farrugia, an onsite lecture by Dr Mark Sagona on Saturday 19 and an exhibition at Il Hagar Museum featuring works by Anton Inglott.