ARTIKLU DWAR IT-TEATRU ASTRA FUQ IR-RIVISTA “LET’S GOZO”
Dan l-aħħar reġgħet ħarġet mill-ġdid ir-rivista bil-lingwa ngliża Let’s Gozo, u tqassmet mal-ġurnal tal-Ħadd, The Sunday Times of Malta fit-18 ta’ Settembru 2011. Fil-ħarġa ġie ippubblikat artiklu interessanti mill-ġurnalista Coryse Borg, fejn tkellmet fuq it-Teatru Astra u l-Festival Mediterranea, b’attenzjoni speċjali għall-opra lirika Norma li se tittella’ minn hawn u ftit ġimgħat oħra. Fl-istess rivista, il-ġurnalista kitbet artiklu ieħor fuq it-Teatru Aurora u l-opra li ssir fih ukoll fix-xahar ta’ Ottubru.
Fl-artiklu, il-ġurnalista tkellmet ma’ Michael Formosa, li huwa ċ-Chairman tal-bord tal-Festival Mediterranea u Segretarju Amministrattiv tas-Soċjetà Filarmonika La Stella, kif ukoll ma’ Marion Zammit, li fost ħafna xogħol ieħor tieħu ħsieb il-relazzjonijiet pubbliċi tal-istess festival.
Għall-benefiċċju ta’ dawk li jżuru dan is-sit qed nippublikaw it-test tal-artiklu kif deher fir-rivista msemmija ta’ Settembru 2011.
L-opra Norma fit-Teatru Astra se tittella’ nhar is-27 u 29 ta’ Ottubru 2011. Huwa ta’ pjaċir ninnotaw li l-bejgħ tal-biljetti miexi b’rittmu tajjeb ħafna. Il-biljetti jistgħu jinkisbu bil-prezz ta’ €70, €50 jew €10. Wieħed jista’ jikseb aktar tagħrif dwar il-festival billi jidħol fis-sit elettroniku
www.mediterranea.com.mt. Biex wieħed jibbukkja xi attività jista’ jikteb fuq [email protected] jew iċempel fuq 21550985 jew 79256897.
Founded in 1968, the Astra Theatre forms part of a larger musical voluntary organiation – the Socjeta Filarmonika La Stella, which was founded in 1863. The theatre was inaugurated in January 1968 and gave its first operatic performance Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdin 1978. This was successfully followed by operas such as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Aida, La Traviata, Turandot, Macbeth, Madama Butterfly, Otello, Tosca and La Boheme, to name but a few.
The theatre has hosted international performers Raffaella Carra, Al Bano and Romina Power, The Platters, Boby Solo, Nek, Amedeo Minghi, the Montparnasse Ballet Troupe and the Ballet Classique de Paris as well as a number of local performers.
The Astra Theatres patrons have been exposed to world-class directors and singers from international opera houses as the Metropolitan Theatre in New York and Teatru alla Scala, like Pamela Kucenic, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Aldo Protti and Giuseppe Giacomini, as well as local stars Miriam Cauchi and Joseph Calleja – who both made their operatic career debuts at Astra. Joseph Calleja’s first main part was in 1997 as Macduff in Guseppe Verdi’s Macbeth. Ten years later – after gaining international fame singing in theatres like the Metrolopolitan and Covent Garden, he reprised the same role at the Astra.
As I explore more, my guides are Marion Zammit and Michael Formosa who both take care of the theatre. Marion could be described as its PR person (although her work encompasses more than that!) while Michael is chairman of the Mediterranea Festival which incorporates Astra’s annual operatic production, as well as a plethora of other cultural events.
Both of them juggle their work at the theatre with full-time jobs in Malta, so it is safe to say that they are very busy people!
“During the weeks before the annual opera, we simply don’t sleep” laugh Marion, “It’s a very hectic time and there are so many things to do to ensure that we present a high quality production.” They both inform me that there are no people working full-time at the theatre: just part-time and a large number of volunteers. In fact, each operatic production features around 200 volunteers. You cannot mention the Astra Theatre without also mention an event the changed the course of its history. An extensive fire broke out on 8 November 2003, effectively ruining the stage and orchestra pit. The fire was a result of a short circuit in the electrical switchboard.Marion remembers that day very well: “I wasn’t in the theatre at the time and received a phone call from someone who told me the: “the theatre is on fire”. At first I thought it was a joke. But then I got called again. I dropped everything I was doing and rushed on the site. It was awful. Everything – from the curtain to the music sheets on stage – was going up in flames.”
After that, the theatre was rebuilt and refurbished according to designs by Oscar nominee Peter Howitt, who has lived in Malta for a number of years and is very active on the local theatre scene. It was re-opened in 2005. Part of the burnt and blackened curtain is on view in the atrium of the opera house, as well as an artist’s impression of the burnt-down theatre by Mr Howitt.
The next operatic production to be put up by Astra, as part of the 10th Mediterranea Festival, will be Vincenzo Bellini’s opera ‘Norma’, with Soprano Dimitra Theodossiou and tenor Antonino Interisano, as well as the Nationla Philharmonic Orchestra on 27 and 29 October.