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The highlight of this year’s seventh edition of Festival Mediterranea will be two performances of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot which will take place on Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th October 2008. For the leading role, the Teatru Astra has managed to engage the services of renowned Italian Soprano Francesca Patane who sang such an astounding Lady Macbeth last year in Verdi’s Macbeth at Teatru Astra in Gozo.  Gozitan soprano Miriam Cauchi no newcomer to Astra will appear as Liu’ whilst Italian tenor Antonino Interisano will be Calaf. Ping, Pong and Pang will be presented by Marco Chingari, Giovanni Maini and Davide Malandra respectively. Franco de Grandis is Timur whilst Kevin Caruana is the Mandarino and Mario Portelli, L’Imperatore Altoum. The Orkestra Filarmonika Nazzjonali will also be taking part under the direction of Mro. Joseph Vella. The Teatru Astra Opera Choir (Chorus Mistress: Maria Frendo) will grace the Teatru Astra’s stage with its participation as well. Stage direction is in the able hands of Mario Corradi.
Local soprano Miriam Cauchi debuted at the Astra in November 2002, when she was invited to sing with an international cast as Oscar in a production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. In 2003 she gave a concert of operatic arias with the Orkestra Nazzjonali again as part of Festival Mediterranea to critical acclaim. The Times of Malta critic on the 15th November 2003 stated, “Ms Cauchi is a highly talented singer whose warm personality and musicianship shine forth abundantly. Indeed, the selection of operatic excerpts she sang were fine character studies that highlighted her versatility, excellent preparation, and attention to interpretative detail. Equally and richly multifaceted is her voice, which ranges from mellow and dramatic to light and airy. She employs it so well that it easily carries the listener to exciting heights. All this is underlined by a deeply felt musicality that leaves nothing to chance.”
 In October 2006 Miriam Cauchi performed the leading soprano roles in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at the Teatru Astra, receiving again universal praise. In The Times’s Weekender of the 4th November 2006 we read that, “If one had to enumerate the plus points of the evening, the two excellent Miriam Cauchi performances (Suor Angelica, and Pagliacci) must definitely rank first. Warm, velvety, but immensely strong when required, Ms Cauchi’s voice was full of expression and colour and projected dramatic nuances that the two ever-so-different roles demanded.”
 Opera Turandot and Festival Mediterranea are principally being supported by the Vodafone Foundation, Bank of Valletta plc, the Malta Tourism Authority, the Good Causes Fund, the Ministry for Gozo, Air Malta, Heritage Malta, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, General Soft Drinks Co. Ltd. and the Victoria Local Council. Booking is now open from the Teatru Astra helpline 2155 0985 ([email protected]). Other updated information on the opera and festival can also be viewed on
photos: Joe Attard